My Safe Space Books (Part 2)


If you missed Friday's post, I talked about why we need books that aren't afraid to ask tough questions and dive into realities that aren't always pretty. I also told a quick story about teen's reading choices being censored, and how that makes me sad because books are a safe place to work through trauma or understand another person's situation better. It's also a trial run for life as you question character's choices and decide what you might have done differently.
Anyway, I promise a list of books that have been important to me because of their honestly. Originally, the book was filled with all super dark, gritty, morbid books (which I do love), but I also realized that there are many books that would fit that are more warm and fuzzy than midnight tears, so I decided to give this list its own post so that I could dive into why I chose each book. Also, I'm giving the main trigger warning I can remember under each title. So, in no particular order, I give you my list:

Sexual Assault/Drug Use
Laura Sibson has written a beautiful, healing story. While it's intense and deals with difficult themes and has lots of anger, it's an amazing book that focus on the aftermath, the family rifts, and on healing and finding love with someone you trust after trauma. She doesn't shy away from dealing with the self destructive behaviors that can come from not being believed or heard as a child. Skye is an unapologetic character, and one that's not difficult to understand. 
Interview with Laura: interview

Grief, Loss of a Parent
I read a lot of heavy, intense books, but this might be the only one I've had to repeatedly put down and pick up as I read. This I in no way anything against this book; actually, it's a testament to how realistic Glasgow's writing is. The grief paired with the truly terrifying idea of losing your best friend-mom hit a note in my heart for everyone who's ever had to experience the loss of a parent or enter the foster system. 
Interview with Kathleen: interview

Describes OCD Compulsions
This is not a sad book. It's actually a really beautiful love story that I found at exactly the right time in my life. Kyler and Lennon's relationship gave me so much hope, and, being able to relate to a lot of Lennon's struggles, while swooning through a love story, was a wonderful experience. 
Interview with L.D.: interview

Self Harm
This was the first book I ever read that went unabashedly into the reality of living with mental illness. This particular book deals with self harm quite a bit, and, with all of Glasgow's books, is unflinching. This book completely changed my views as a person who hadn't really been exposed to ideas of mental health and mental illness, and I started questioning why I felt weird or ashamed to want to read the book. I credit Girl In Pieces with a lot of the self awareness I've built and with my dedication to promoting, sharing, and loving books that tackle mental illness head on. 

Sexual Assault
This is another hard read that is also beautiful and sensitive in how it's handled. I read it in a single, emotional day, and, at the end, I was crying sad/happy tears for all the girls in the book. This book is full of characters that have layer after layer, and their connections and relationships only deepen as the story goes on. It's a good reminder, too, that you never know what those around you have gone through. 

Drug Abuse/Addiction
I've never read a book that so directly confronts the reality of addiction. It's a topic I'm not super familiar with, and something that's normally talked about with a lot of stigma and in a school assembly way. There's a real lack of empathy for people struggling with addiction. Which is why I love this book and all books. They're the great equalizer. 
You're forced to go down Micky's spiral, and it's clear why she makes the choices she does. It's the farthest thing from glorified, but her actions are understandable, and you realize how quickly it could happen to anyone. This book certainly requires a person to be in the right headspace, but it's definitely a powerful experience. 
I also give this book a million rounds of applause for its perfect trigger warnings at the start.

Description of OCD Compulsions
John Green's latest was the first book about OCD that really went there with dragging you through the uncomfortable, messy side of OCD. It doesn't cut to black or fade away when the compulsions progress and get truly ugly. I appreciate the lack of candy coating on the issue in an otherwise fun mystery/adventure type story with friends and love interests. 

OCD/Agoraphobia/Self Harm
This was another book I read early into seeking out books that dealt with mental illness. As painful as the situation is, the character growth and writing in this story is spectacular. 

Stress/Depression/Anxiety
This book just gets it. I think everyone needs to be reading it, regardless of where you're at in life. As a teen applying to colleges, my heart connects with Ariel's as he struggles with the reality of not knowing what his future will hold and having no control of it despite his best efforts. For younger high schoolers, it's a window into what's to come and a good reminder of the self care that is needed throughout the process, and, for adults, I think it is the most important. It's hard to conceptualize what a monster the high school to college education system has become and what the expectations/processes/realities do to students. School is about anything but learning at this point. 

Toxic Friendship
Infatuation is at the core of this book. It's an amazing expiration of the dangers of falling hard and fast for a person-significant other or best friend- who is manipulative, whether they realize it or not. This fast paced thriller is more a look into the intensity that we all feel things and the roads that can lead down. 
Interview with Sarah: interview

They Both Die At The End
Adam Silvera is the master of sad books, and this one earns a place on this list for exploring what it means to fall in love against impossible odds. In this one, it's made obvious and tangible by the fact that Mateo and Rufus both literally know they're gonna die at the end of the day, but it's a beautiful love story that's almost like a dark The Sun Is Also A Star with no chance of a happy ending. 

Kidnapping/Loss of a Sibling
These two books both deal with abduction/losing a sibling. The world is full of terrifying realities, and these books both humanize events that we all hope to only experience on the evening news. Both of these books are compulsively real. 

Suicide/Mental Illness
This is the first book I ever read that dealt with mental illness and talked about suicide as more than a statistic. While Finch's bipolar disorder is never explicitly stated, its effects are seen through the book. It's a terribly sad story that left me balling my eyes out,  but it was a book that broke down a lot of stigma walls for me about what was okay to read and offered a glimpse into the very real realities others experience. Niven's highly relatable characters turn an issue that is often viewed insensitively as a warning and tragedy about the importance of getting the help and treatment one need for their mental health. 

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