Top 10 Books Dealing With Tough Subjects:
Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher — This is probably one of the first books most people think of when they hear “issue novel”. Thirteen Reasons Why is a very interesting take on the topic of suicide and a favorite of many. Definitely worth the read. (review)
Hold Still by Nina LaCour — I remember–after reading Hold Still–pondering for a long time how I would feel if my best friend commit suicide… all the loneliness and guilt that would surely follow. I really loved this book and often recommend it to people.
Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone by Kat Rosenfield — Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone is sort of a weird one. While it is about death, it’s not just about death. It’s hard to explain. The book shows the events that led up to Amelia Anne’s death (and how simple they were) and how it affected people, mostly strangers. All the uncertainty and sadness makes for an intriguing read. (review)
Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson — Speak is another one of those books people are quick to think about, and for good reason. It’s one of those books you read and sit there wondering “who would do that?”. And it’s frightening because you know how realistic it is. Laurie Halse Anderson has a gift for tapping into human emotions and really telling it how it is.
Dreamland by Sarah Dessen — While most of Sarah Dessen’s characters are going through really tough situations, Dreamland is by far the heaviest book. I don’t read a lot of books where abusive significant others are involved, but I loved the way it was handled in Dreamland. It was so clear how much the main character changed throughout the book and the whole time I was cursing her for not getting out of the relationship while also understanding why she couldn’t. I don’t know if that’s because I’m me, or because of Dessen’s writing, but either way: this one is definitely recommended.
Stealing Henry by Carolyn MacCullough — (Okay, this one is only abuse-ish.) Stealing Henry was a complete surprise to me. I loved it more than I could have possibly imagined. If you have a sibling you know how much you’re willing to do or give up for them. In this book the main character, Savannah, “kidnaps” her younger brother to get away from her alcoholic stepfather. For almost the entire book they’re on the run, just trying to get as far as possible. Savannah is basically a teenage adult because she has to be to survive. (review)
Chopsticks by Jessica Anthony and Rodrigo Corral — I know this one might seem like it shouldn’t be on this list because it’s less dealing with an issue as it is presenting an issue, period. Oh, well. Chopsticks is outwardly a love story, but deep down it’s really very sad. I don’t want to say more for fear of ruining it for anyone. It’s one of those books that builds you up, tears you down, and makes your heart hurt. (And it’s a graphic novel, so that’s cool.) (review)
Body of Water by Sarah Dooley — Body of Water deals with a different type of grief than any other book on this list. The family in this book is homeless and betrayed and really just trying to make it through life without starving or dying. And to make things more depressing, it’s told from the point of view of a twelve-year-old girl. It’s upsetting, but there’s also a lot of hope in this book… and I really enjoyed it.
Between Here and Forever by Elizabeth Scott — In this book the main character’s sister is in a coma, but that’s not what intrigued me the most. It was the way in which Abby (MC) went about trying to wake her sister up. The struggle isn’t so much the sister in a coma, but the main character’s feeling that she isn’t up to par compared to her sister. I’m totally blanking on what to say, but this book is worth the read.
Wherever Nina Lies by Lynn Weingarten — Wherever Nina Lies is one big clusterf**k and you don’t even know it until the end. Nina has disappeared and her younger sister knows she’s out there somewhere… so she takes off on a road trip (with a mostly-stranger) in the hopes of finding her. I’m always trying to get people to read this book because it’s really very wonderful. It’s been a while since I’ve read it, but I don’t remember coming close to guessing what would happen until it was slapping me in the face.
So yeah. This list was easy AND difficult for me to compile. I was trying not to repeat myself (because a lot of the same books end up on my lists), but in the end I just went with the books I wanted to mention. Not all of these books are neccesarily super important to me, but I know they are to some people. That’s why they’re listed. (: