Skip to main content

Diving Into Difficult Topics with Books (Part 1)


The world is filled with a lot of negativity and difficult situations. It's also filled with awkward stuff, misunderstandings, and confusing transitions through life. A lot of times, people wish they could have do-overs of certain moments knowing what they learned after the experience. Sometimes it's for awareness, preparedness, or redemption. Regardless, no one has a time machine.
But we do have books. There's been a couple different moments lately that got me thinking about books, censorship, and how books really are a safe space too explore topics that are tough to discuss or process. From starting and graduating high school, leaving for college, navigating breakups (of the romantic and friendship varieties), or seeing different takes on how people think of sex, YA on its most basic level navigates some of the biggest moments of teen years that no one is ever prepared for.
Books offer a safe space to contemplate regular teen moments and more intense situations that seem like they should only belong in scary commercials on TV. I love how so many books unflinchingly approach stories that are gritty and unpleasant and make you want to flinch away because a reader will either find it cathartic or educational, teaching empathy by letting you see the world through the eyes of someone struggling with addiction, self harm, mental illness, or many more of life's tough situations.
While trigger warnings and careful consideration should be offered to each and every book, I think the books that choose to honestly go there have the power to change the world and should not be skipped just because it's hard. Though everyone responds differently to the uncertainties of the world or their personal traumas, books can be an instrumental part of gaining a better understanding of experiences or the world around you.
I've been thinking about this for a few weeks, ever since I got asked by a mom to recommend YA book for her fifteen year old daughter that did not include cussing or sex. I was speechless for a moment. While I know parents have the right to raise their kids however they want and there are many parents who censor their kids books, I was both shocked and running a blank. There's plenty of YA that doesn't have sex, but I kept getting stuck on the swearing or other content I could only imagine would cause her mother to freak out. As I pulled books that I'd enjoyed and handed them to the girl, her mother would pull them out of her hand and dismiss them for having LGBTQIA characters or a million other things I couldn't figure out. We eventually found a book that passed the intenser test, but it left me wondering what the mother thought she was protecting her sophomore aged daughter from.
High schools have far worse content on the daily than any book I could have pulled off the shelf for her.
It also made me thankful that my mom, a devoted reader as well, never questioned what I read. She finds my fascination with darker, grittier books interesting, if a little confusing, but she'd never stop me from reading anything. I asked her why she'd never really questioned me, and she replied with something like she hoped that books could be conversation starters between us. She's always agreed with my view that books are safe spaces. (Honestly, she's probably where I got the idea in the first place).
I was going to include a list of books to go with the post, but I realized that the post was going to get really long  and I wouldn't be able to do as much with the list as I wanted to, so I'm going to make my first 2 part post ever. I guess that makes this the super long intro for Sunday's list? Anyway, I hope that this discussion made you think about how we view books, how they're censored, and how they can be used! I'll be back Sunday with a list of books that have helped me, change my POV, made me more empathetic, or that I found really educational.

Referenced Posts:
Trigger Warnings Show Empathy: Here

Links of Interest:
The Second Life of Ava Rivers: Review Here
The Joy of Visiting The Library: Here
Tell Me How You Really Feel: Review Here
The Fear of Missing Out: Review Here

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Top Reads of 2018

This year's best of 2018 list has tons of new categories to fit all of the amazing books I read this year. I've had the chance to read so many advanced books and recent releases, so most of what I read were books that came out in 2018. I mostly choose contemporary, so I've started with my favorite debut as well as the best books in other genres I've ventured into. After that, I have smaller categories in the contemporary genre. I hope you find new books to love and give to your friends and family for the holidays. If you're interested in learning more about the books on the list, click their titles to go to my reviews. Let me know if these are some of your favorites in the comments, and tell me your favorite books!
Best In Genre Top Debut
Nothing Left To Burn by Heather Ezell Nothing Left To Burn gave me the craziest book hangover. I was so immersed in the story, and I couldn't stop reading to do anything that I actually needed to be doing. There is a toxic relat…

Planes, Trains, and... Books

It's almost holiday time, and that means traveling for a lot of people. Since I'm leaving this weekend to go visit family for Thanksgiving, I thought I'd make a list of books for you guys that'll be perfect reads while you're flying, waiting in the airport, or hiding from relatives. If you're taking a car trip, check out the audiobook versions. Or, I guess, if you're fortunate enough to be able to read in the car, do that. I can't even look at Instagram without getting carsick.
So, without further ado, here's my list of perfect travel books that are lighthearted, page turning, or perfect escapes. I'll link to my reviews of each of the books so that you can read my full thoughts on each of the books.
Crying Laughing  by Lance Rubin I picked a lot of funny books for this list because they're my favorites to read while traveling. Even when books cross into difficult subject matter, the tone can keep a book perfectly poised as a light read. I lov…

The Reading, Writing, and Me Book Awards 2019

I read so many amazing books this year. Tons of debuts, tons of 2019 arrivals, but also ton of backlist books. I've made a list of my favorite books every year I've had the blog at the end of the year, and I always make the list full of superlatives, giving each book a specific award. I always struggle, though, with my top of 20-whatever list with not being able to honor backlist books that I didn't discover until this year. I want to scream about books I didn't know about when they were brand new, so this year we're going to do things a little differently. This year, for my named awards, I'm going to include both new and backlist books. The only rule is that I had to read them in 2019 or after the 2018 list came out. But I do want to honor this year specifically, so I will be taking ten books from this list and in the next week unveil my Top 10 of 2019. This will allow me to celebrate more books than ever. Carrying on from last year's tradition, I'm k…

What If It's Us

What If It's Us by Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera (448 pages)
Overview: Ben and Arthur meet at the post office during a flashmob. Well, Arthur followed Ben into the post office because he thought he was and, and, just as they started talking, in true form with Arthur's New York fantasy, a flash mob erupted. When the boys and split up, Arthur loses his chance at connecting with Ben, but when he can't stop thinking about him, he explores ways to reconnect even in a city of a million empty faces like New York. Even if they can find each other, with Arthur going back to Georgia at the end of the summer, will it even be worth it? Overall: 4/5

Characters: 4.5 I'm not sure what to say about the characters. I liked them enough, but I didn't feel any real attachment to any of them. I liked the cast of friends, but they all lacked a certain weight that would give them a stronger sense of reality. My favorite relationship in the book was the friendship between Dylan and Ben.…

Heroine

Heroine by Mindy McGinnis (417 pages) To Purchase From Your Local Bookstore (Affiliate Link)
TW: Depiction of opioid addiction 
Overview: Mickey has it all. She's on the best softball team in the county, she has a supportive best friend, and, even though her parents have recently gone through a divorce, they both want to support her. And then she and Carolina get into a car accident on the way home to watch Netflix and eat pizza, a regular Friday night. Mickey's leg is all but torn out of her body, and her hip has to be put together with screws. Carolina, the school's near famous pitcher, nearly destroys her arm. As the girls fight to be ready in time to play their senior softball season, Mickey falls down a dangerous road, slowly upping her intake of pain pills to get through the day and to quicken her pace through physical therapy. Even as she tells herself that it's just for softball, just for her team, just for her parents, as she gets further in and her dependency i…

The Cheerleaders

The Cheerleaders by Kara Thomas (372 pages)
Overview: Five years ago, five cheerleaders on the same high school squad died in three separate incidents, but how separate were they? That's what Monica wants to know. Her sister, Jen, was the last teen to die in the tragedy when she died by suicide, but Monica isn't convinced it was simply survivors guilt at play. She's also not convinced that Jack Canning was truly at fault for two girls murders or that the car accident that took the final two girls was really an accident. With an unlikely friend by her side, Monica sets out to dig up the truth about what really happened to those five girls even if it jeopardizes her own life. Overall: 4.5

Characters: 5 I loved Monica's voice. Even though it's told in third person, her character really shined through. Despite making some poor choices and putting herself in dangerous situations, she does strive to do what she thinks will bring truth or justice. Ginny, a girl she connects…

Dumplin'

Dumplin' by Julie Murphy (375 pages)
Overview: Willowdean "Dumplin'" is fat. It's something that she's come to accept about herself even after years of fad diets enforced by her mother and bullying at school. Aunt Lucy certainly helped with her self acceptance, and in cultivating her love of Dolly Parton, but Will is left rudderless after Lucy has a sudden heart attack. To reclaim a bit of confidence she'd lost, Will signs up for the Clover City Pageant. Though she's not the typical beauty queen, Will and her group of friends get to put their own stamp on her mother's beloved pageant. Overall: 4 

Characters: 4 I like Willowdean. She lives in the place most of us do on the fine line between insecure and confident. Murphy does a great job building a crew of characters around Willowdean. It was fun to revisit the cast after I'd read Puddin', Murphy's forthcoming companion novel.

Plot: 4 While this book is mainly billed as being about a beaut…

Long Way Down

Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds (306 pages) Buy At Your Local Bookstore*
Overview: It's just one elevator ride. Just one elevator ride to the rest of Will's life. Eight floors takes so long when you're headed to kill someone. Even in revenge. Even for justice. Even when your brother was just murdered. It's even longer when every stop brings someone who's left your life back in. There's so much to learn before Will hits the lobby. Overall: 4 

Characters: 4 Because of the atmosphere and the point of the story, we don't get super into the characters. They each represent a stop on a horrible cycle. It starts with Buck, Will's older brother, Shawn's, older brother figure. When Buck got killed, Shawn had to avenge his death, which got him killed. He also meets his Uncle Mark, an aspiring filmmaker who's death lead to Will's father's death because of the Rules. Each character doesn't exist to explore themselves or have their own motives- they…

Spotlight Review: All of This Is True: A Novel

All Of This Is True: A Novel by Lygia Day Peñaflor (May 15)
Overview: When bestselling author Fatima Ro's new book hits the shelves, of course her biggest (and best) fans are going to want to read it... until they realize its the thinly veiled story of the past few months of their lives complete with details that got their best friend Jonah beat into a coma. In the media frenzy that follows, the girls each take their turn at telling their own sides of the story. Overall: 5

Characters: 5 Peñaflor has written quite the cast to fill her larger than life story, and they all play their roles perfectly. We probably get to know famed author Fatima Ro best, even though we never get to really see her side of the story beyond excerpts from her second novel. But the girls work together to shape the image of the young, intelligent, open minded author who welcomed them into their lives with accuracy. By the end of the novel, the reader realizes they would have fallen for Fatima's tricks too.

Crying Laughing Review

Crying Laughing by Lance Rubin
Overview: Winnie's life exists for laughs. Her dad is a former wannabe comedian, so he's never quit making jokes around the house. They're super close as he quit his career to stay home with her. She's taken on his love for comedy and has tried stand up, but she's never going back to that again. Now she's in the school's improv troupe, trying her hand at another form of comedy. She forms a closer group of friends and meets new people form it. It's also a good distraction from her dad's increasing health issues as he drops new things and starts falling. As her dad comes to terms with his ALS diagnosis, Winnie doesn't know how to respond to a world that's both full of joy and sadness. Overall: 4.5

Characters: 4 Winnie is super sweet and very interesting. She wants to be funny so badly. Sometimes, she succeeds and is very funny, but sometimes she falls flat on her face. She knows that every joke doesn't work, bu…