May is Mental Health Awareness Month and we find that books can not only help us understand or sympathize, but can often help us talk about difficult topics. Here are 15 books to read this month to help start a conversation and #endthestigma.
Turtles All the Way Down by John Green
Aza is trying. She is trying to be a good daughter, a good friend, a good student, and maybe even a good detective, while also living within the ever-tightening spiral of her own thoughts. Turtles All the Way Down is an intimate portrait of what it’s like to live with anxiety.
Daris the Great is Not Okay by Adib Khorram
Darius has never really fit in at home, and he’s sure things are going to be the same when he visits his grandparents in Iran. His clinical depression doesn’t exactly help matters, and trying to explain his medication to his grandparents only makes things harder. Adib Khorram’s brilliant debut is for anyone who’s ever felt not good enough—then met a friend who makes them feel so much better than okay.
Hold Still by Nina LaCour
When Caitlin decides to go through the journal of her best friend Ingrid, who recently committed suicide, she’ll find out that you can’t always see what the people closest to you are feeling.
Things I’m Seeing Without You by Peter Bognanni
Tess Fowler dropped out of high school after finding out her boyfriend, Jonah, committed suicide. She’s left mostly to herself to unpack what it means to truly be alive, and what happens after death. She begins to write emails to help process her grief, but what happens when someone writes back?
I Have Lost My Way by Gayle Forman
Three teens meet by chance in Central Park. One of them is Nathaniel–visiting New York City for the first time with nothing but a backpack, a desperate plan, and nothing left to lose. Throughout the book, he grapples with coming to terms with his father’s mental illness and how it has affected his childhood.
Highly Illogical Behavior by John Corey Whaley
16-year-old Solomon hasn’t left his house in three years: He’s agoraphobic. When Lisa and Clark enter his life, Solomon’s journey into love, tragedy, and the need for connection reveals the different ways in which we hide ourselves from the world.
How It Feels to Float by Helena Fox
A deeply hopeful YA novel about living with mental illness that’s perfect for fans of Girl in Pieces. This lyrical, profound contemporary novel takes an honest, mesmerizing look at the effects of grief and living with mental illness.
Looking for Alaska by John Green
John Green’s 2006 Printz award winner follows Miles Halter’s relationship with Alaska Young and brings to light that we can never completely understand what someone with a mental illness feels inside.
Mosquitoland by David Arnold
Mim Malone is on a 1,000 mile bus ride to find out what happened to her mother, and along the way she’ll confront questions about her mental health.
Verona Comics by Jennifer Dugan
“A deep dive into first love while learning to manage significant mental health challenges.” —School Library Journal
They meet one fateful night at a comic convention prom, and the two can’t help falling for each other. As Ridley’s anxiety spirals, Jubilee tries to help but finds her focus torn between her fast-approaching audition and their intensifying relationship. What if love can’t conquer all? What if each of them needs more than the other can give?
I Was Here by Gayle Forman
After her best friend Meg takes her own life, Cody struggles to understand why – but through her journey to find out, she’ll discover that you can’t always know what’s inside the people closest to you.
Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson
Lia is a high school senior who has struggled with an eating disorder for years, and her painful path to recovery hinges on her desperate attempt to hold on to the most important thing of all: hope.
A World Without You by Beth Revis
17-year-old Bo suffers from delusions and is convinced that he can travel back in time to save his girlfriend after she disappears. His story is a heartrending, beautifully complex meditation on mental illness, loss, and life.
SHOUT by Laurie Halse Anderson
In free verse, Anderson shares reflections, rants, and calls to action woven between deeply personal stories from her life that she’s never written about before. Searing and soul-searching, this important memoir is a denouncement of our society’s failures and a love letter to all the people with the courage to say #metoo and #timesup, whether aloud, online, or only in their own hearts.