World Mental Health Day | YA Books Tackling Mental Health

Mental health is a subject close to my heart – I had a nervous breakdown when I was 14 and have struggled with depression and anxiety ever since. I nearly dropped out of uni, I’ve been on medication since I was 19 and I’m currently battled postnatal depression.

I lost my teenage years to mental illness and it’s something that I’ve struggled to come to terms with. It has a profound effect on you if you suffer in your adolescence. The social and emotional development that comes with going through high school just didn’t happen for me, and I had to try and find my way through it in a couple of years in my early 20s. It was awful.

That’s why I’m such a huge advocate of mental health representation in Young Adult books. Being able to see your own emotions and experiences is incredibly validating, and it can help you to recognise aspects of mental illness that you perhaps hadn’t picked up on. Reading about other peoples’ experiences can help you understand and empathise with the suffering of others.

Here are three of my favourite YA books that tackle mental health issues, and a selection of books from my TBR list that come highly recommended.

The Impossible Knife of Memory – Laurie Halse Anderson

There are few authors who do it as well as Laurie Halse Anderson. The Impossible Knife of Memory tackles parental PTSD and narrator Hayley’s trauma as she struggles with her past, caring for her veteran father and starting a new school.

I like the angle of having Hayley be the onlooker while a close family member suffers through their mental health. It’s something that affects a lot of young people and allows them to find a character going through the same struggle, as well as providing PTSD representation.

A Quiet Kind of Thunder – Sara Barnard

I spent a lot of high school too anxious to speak to anyone, and it had a disastrous effect on my social and emotional wellbeing. Steffi’s experience of social anxiety really spoke to me, and A Quiet Kind of Thunder is a book I really wish I’d had as a teenager – I had no idea what selective mutism was, and it might have empowered me to look into ways of coping.

Are We All Lemmings and Snowflakes? – Holly Bourne

I’ve read a fair few books on anxiety and depression, but bipolar disorder is still a hugely stigmatised and misunderstood condition, particularly in young people.

Olive isn’t a likeable character, but mental illness – especially before you get help – can make you unlikeable, and a lot of people don’t realise that it’s a symptom. I think education is vital to prevent misconceptions and judgements about how people struggling with their mental health are “supposed” to behave, and hopefully to increase understanding and empathy.


Here’s what’s currently on my TBR in terms of YA mental health. Most of these I’ve been meaning to pick up for months (or years…) so hopefully as my major reading slump falls into the distance I’ll get to them. They all look INCREDIBLE. In terms of both cover and content.

What am I missing? Who’s got some great MH rep coming out next year? LET ME KNOW.

Six For Sunday | Summer Colours

Thoroughly tired of summer after heatwave after heatwave and attempting to keep a very small baby happy. I can’t wait to start wearing my 4756435 jumpers again, but in the meantime here’s some summery-looking books.

The Square Root of Summer – Harriet Reuter Hapgood

This was such an obvious pick it almost seems too easy. Perfect summer holiday reading.

The Sun Is Also A Star – Nicola Yoon

A book that’s on my “I haven’t read this for ages and I’ve forgotten what happens but I know I enjoyed it so I’m going to read it again” list. Top tier colours, too!

The Virgin Suicides – Jeffrey Euginedes

I picked his because the cover looks summery but honestly I fucking hated this book. I’m sure it’s really poignant and clever and there’s probably a whole load of metaphor but I found it desperately pretentious.

The Fault In Our Stars – John Green

John Green’s writing doesn’t really vibe with me – his dialogue always feels a bit “off” – but he’s resonated with so many young people and given then hope and joy and I have a huge amount of respect for him.

Boy Meets Girl – Meg Cabot

Romance isn’t a genre I go into very often – most of the time if I pick up a romance book it’s on a whim, or there’s nothing else available. I found this one in a charity shop and bought it because I loved the Princess Diaries books, but I ended up really enjoying it. I’ve reread it loads.

The Miseducation of Cameron Post – Emily M. Danforth

TMOCP has been on my TBR for so long it feels like a personal attack whenever I come across someone talking about it. Also the cover is stunning.


Top Ten Tuesday | Books I Loved But Never Reviewed

The plus side of being an absentee book blogger means that I have a list. The downside of being an absentee reader means there’s only nine I read recently that are on it. Here’s my top nine:

Mary’s The Name – Ross Sayers

I loved Mary’s the Name. Told from the perspective of eight year old Mary Sutherland, it’s sweet, funny and emotional all in one go. Ross Sayers has done an absolute belter of a job with the writing – the dramatic irony created by an eight year old narrator is brilliant, and the voice never falters.

Fault Lines – Douglas Johnstone

A thriller set in what’s basically AU contemporary Edinburgh, Fault Lines‘ protagonist is a volcanologist who discovers the body of her married lover who also happens to be her boss. Then the text messages start…

Bone Deep – Sandra Ireland

Sandra is a Creative Writing MLitt cohort of mine. I loved her first thriller Beneath the Skin, and Bone Deep didn’t disappoint either – I had to scrape my jaw off the floor at the end.

Editing Emma – Chloe Seagar

It’s rare that a book actually sends me into fits of giggles (I can appreciate when something is funny when I’m reading, but rarely do I actively laugh) but Editing Emma managed it. I’m well overdue a reread.

Hings – Chris McQueer

“Limmy meets Irvine Welsh” is just about right. Surreal and full of black Scottish humour, it’s almost like The Fast Show on acid and set in Glasgow. Love it.

A Quiet Kind of Thunder – Sara Barnard

I will wax lyrical about Sara Barnard’s books every chance I get. She does contemporary YA so well, with relatable characters that I recognise from my school days, never mind now. As someone who struggled with anxiety and talking to people when I was in school, AQKOT broke my heart.

Blackbird – ND Gomes

Contemporary YA mystery Blackbird first came to my attention when someone pointed it out it was set in Orkney, and we all know I love a Scottish book. I felt a little let down by the ending, but I enjoyed the journey!

102 Minutes: The Untold Story of the Fight to Survive Inside the Twin Towers

This is, unsurprisingly, incredibly heavy and emotional reading. I knew the outcome – as everyone will – but . Harrowing, but definitely worth it.

Radio Silence – Alice Oseman

Radio Silence is top tier YA. It’s the book I wish I’d had when I was a teenager. I don’t even want to say any more in case anyone hasn’t read it yet. You absolutely should.

(Fun fact: this is the book that got me back into being bookish, and it’s because I suddenly though that “Radio Silence” would be a great book title so I googled it and found UKYA Twitter. I’m glad I did.)

My Winter TBR: an update, or “oops I accidentally went Christmas shopping for myself”.

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a Top Ten Tuesday blog post on the books I was planning on reading over winter. I went for a day trip to Edinburgh with my mum to hang out at the Christmas market – my motivations had more than a little bit to do with the sloe gin apple toddies – and me being me, I nipped into Waterstones to get some books for Christmas presents.

I wasn’t including myself in that but Y’KNOW WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO DO.

book blog

These are three books that I’ve been DYING to read for ages, so I’m looking forward to cracking open the bottle of ginger nut liqueur I’ve got and getting stuck in. I’m considering doing some book reviews in the new year – although I might have to work on turning down the sarcasm and bitterness a wee bit – so one of these might be the inaugural entry in the PBPR Book Review series.

I was sliiiiiightly worried when I posted that TTT entry, as I’d forgottenĀ that the new Destiny 2 expansion Curse of OsirisĀ came out on December 5th and I was mentally prepared for it to be a major timesink for me. So many space children, so little time, and I have to fit my colossal TBR in as well!

Much to my dismay, I don’t think that’s a risk anymore…but that’s a blog post for next week.

Have a good weekend folks – and let me know if there’s any other books I should be throwing my debit card at this winter!