Mental health is one of the most significant themes in my novel, Ravencroft’s Bookshop, with a focus on depression, anxiety and male suicide. Whilst Ravencroft’s Bookshop is classed as New Adult, I feel that it has the potential to crossover into Young Adult audiences. Recently, the YA genre has done an exceptional job of highlighting mental health in teenagers and young adults, so today I thought I would share some recommendations for YA novels which focus on the theme of mental health.
Originally published in 1999, The Perks of Being a Wallflower follows our protagonist Charlie, a socially awkward, introspective freshman who is attempting to navigate a world of new friends, first dates, sex, drugs, and familial disputes. Written in the form of letters to an unknown recipient, this novel tells a deeply moving coming-of-age story which is not for the faint hearted.
All the Bright Places is told in the dual narrative perspective of Theodore Finch, a teenager fascinated by death and constantly thinking of different ways to kill himself, and Violet Markey, who dreams of escaping from her hometown after the death of her sister. When Violet and Finch meet, they decide to pair up on a project to discover the natural wonders of their state, and soon come to realise that they can truly be themselves around each other for the first time.
This novel follows the protagonist Audrey, who cannot leave her house, and can’t take off her dark sunglasses even inside her home. When she meets her brother’s friend, Linus, he begins to Audrey to come outside, and with Linus by her side, Audrey begins to achieve things she never believed would be possible.
The Rest of Us Just Live Here follows Mikey, a high school student who can’t wait to graduate, and is trying to work out a way to ask his crush to go on a date with him. Set against a fantastical backdrop of paranormal activity and the inevitable end of the world, the novel is a parody of ‘The Chosen One’ trope which features in many fantasy and sci-fi novels. Mikey has to navigate his way through family drama, sibling relationships, anxiety and high school, whilst the ‘Indie kids’ battle whatever alien/vampire/ghost invasion is threatening to destroy the planet this time.
This novel follows the protagonist Aza, who is struggling to cope with her anxiety and OCD, when her best friend decides to bring her on a mission to find a fugitive billionaire. Along the way she meets Davis, son of the missing billionaire Russell Pickett, but her budding relationship with Davis threatens to send her anxiety spiralling out of control.