Skip to main content

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. 

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…

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…

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.…

Fear of Missing Out

Fear of Missing Out by Kate McGovern 
Overview: Astrid has a form of brain cancer called astrocytoma that causes a star shaped tumor to form near her brainstem. Though she was in remission, two years later, the cancer comes back, and Astrid becomes convinced that she won't beat the disease. She starts to pursue options that will allow her to have a life in the future, namely, cryopreservation. After essentially freezing her body, she hopes to wake up when there's a cure for her cancer so she can rejoin the world and see some of the milestones she fears missing.
On the road trip to tour the Arizona facility, though, Astrid makes other realizations about her life and eventual death that alters how she sees her original plan. Overall: 4 

Characters: 4 Astrid is relatable. She has a touch of dry, witty humor that makes her relatable. She loves her friends and family deeply, but she also has a conviction to follow what feels best for her. I appreciated how she always tried to stay ho…

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 see…

Nice Try, Jane Sinner

Nice Try, Jane Sinner Lianne Oelke (420 pages)
Overview: Jane wants to forget the past. Forget the high school that expelled her. Forget the people that watched her fall from grace. Forget her family who thinks that prayer is the answer to everything. Facing community college at Elbow River as a last resort graduation option, she signs up to be on House of Orange, a new web reality show, to solve her housing problem. Though she knows to expect the unexpected, House of Orange and its inhabitants test Jane in ways she never imagined. Maybe the year won't be as bad as she imagined. Overall: 5

Characters: 5 I LOVE Jane. There are very few main characters I can say that I appreciated more. Her sarcasm, dry humor, and outlook on life echoed my own thoughts, and I loved how she was so introspective. It is fascinating to listen to Jane work through her own thoughts and recognize her behaviors as masks for other feelings. I also thought that Oelke did a wonderful job with her depiction of Ja…

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…

The Second Life of Ava Rivers

The Second Life of Ava Rivers by Faith Gardner Overview: The Rivers family has been lost for twelve years. Vera has been missing a twin. Her parents lost a daughter. Then, one day, there's a breakthrough. Ava is at a hospital an hour away, and their lives have been forever changed. Overall: 4
Characters: 4 The characters in the book are all interesting and quite complex. I really liked Vera and her very honest inner conflicts about her family's situation. She loses a lot of her life when Ava suddenly comes back into the picture. She's been in Ava's shadow her entire life, and no one knows what to do when Ava comes back.  Her parents and brother are also strongly featured as they fall apart and cope in their own ways. It makes it clear just how impactful events like these are on people who are not directly seen as the "victims". 
Plot: 4 This isn't a fast paced story. There are some wow reveals, but, overall, it is much more about the fallout to each twist th…

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…