We love to read fictions — be it fantasy, thriller, romance, science fiction or any other genre. It is great to be inside the stories with wizards or aliens or scary sea creatures or kings and queens, but did you ever think of a novel where you can actually relate? Not that young love that conquers all, but that story about the struggles with depression or anxiety. Books that will make you feel that you’re not alone with your battles. Books that will make you say, “It’s true! That’s what I’ve been feeling” Books that will give you hope to keep fighting.
Here are some of my favorite novels that tackle Mental Illness:
All the Bright Places
“The story of a girl who learns to live from a boy who wants to die”
Written by: Jennifer Niven
Synopsis: Theodore Finch is fascinated by death, and he constantly thinks of ways he might kill himself. But each time, something good, no matter how small, stops him.
Violet Markey lives for the future, counting the days until graduation, when she can escape her Indiana town and her aching grief in the wake of her sister’s recent death.
When Finch and Violet meet on the ledge of the bell tower at school, it’s unclear who saves whom. And when they pair up on a project to discover the ‘natural wonders’ of their state, both Finch and Violet make more important discoveries: It’s only with Violet that Finch can be himself – a weird, funny, live-out-loud guy who’s not such a freak after all. And it’s only with Finch that Violet can forget to count away the days and start living them. But as Violet’s world grows, Finch’s begins to shrink.
“At the heart—a big one—of All the Bright Places lies a charming love story about this unlikely and endearing pair of broken teenagers.” —The New York Times
“A heart-rending, stylish love story.” —The Wall Street Journal
I had this book on my shelf for so long, untouched. But I prepared myself and finally read it. I related to it so much. It’s an honest and emotional novel. You guys should read it.
Where to buy: All the Bright Places
The Memory of Light
“—about living when life doesn’t seem worth it”
Written by: Francisco X. Stork
Synopsis: When Vicky Cruz wakes up in the Lakeview Hospital Mental Disorders ward, she knows one thing: After her suicide attempt, she shouldn’t be alive. But then she meets Mona, the live wire; Gabriel, the saint; E.M., always angry; and Dr. Desai, a quiet force. With stories and honesty, kindness and hard work, they push her to reconsider her life before Lakeview, and offer her an acceptance she’s never had.
But Vicky’s newfound peace is as fragile as the roses that grow around the hospital. And when a crisis forces the group to split up, sending Vick back to the life that drove her to suicide, she must try to find her own courage and strength. She may not have them. She doesn’t know.
“A heartfelt, realistic novel that gives the reader a close look at what it’s really like to live with a mental disorder”
Inspired in part by the author’s own experience with depression, The Memory of Light is the rare young adult novel that focuses not on the events leading up to a suicide attempt, but the recovery from one — about living when life doesn’t seem worth it, and how we go on anyway.
What I love about this book is its raw depiction of depression. The book will make you feel sad and hopeful at the same time. This surely is a must read.
Where to buy: The Memory of Light
Veronika Decides to Die
“—it’s best to accept life as it really is and not as I imagined it to be”
Written by: Paulo Coelho
Synopsis: Twenty-four-year-old Veronika seems to have everything—youth and beauty, boyfriends and a loving family, a fulfilling job. But something is missing in her life. So, one cold November morning, she takes a handful of sleeping pills expecting never to wake up. But she does—at a mental hospital where she is told that she has only days to live.
“I loved this book. The mental health system, psychotropic drugs and emotional difficulties are subjects I am well acquainted with, so I felt at ease reading it as I was not swimming in unchartered waters” — Goodreads
The title intrigued me the moment I saw it in one of the shelves of National Bookstore. Then I saw the author’s name on it- Paulo Coelho, I immediately knew the book would be a great one. And it really is.
Where to buy: Veronika Decides to Die
It’s Kind of a Funny Story
“When you say the truth, you get stronger”
Written by: Ned Vizzini
Synopsis: Ambitious New York City teenager Craig Gilner is determined to succeed in life – which means getting into the right high school to get into the right job. But once Craig aces his way into Manhattan’s Executive Pre-Professional High School, the pressure becomes unbearable. He stops eating and sleeping until, one night, he nearly kills himself.
Craig’s suicidal episode gets him checked into a mental hospital, where his new neighbors include a transsexual sex addict, a girl who has scarred her own face with scissors, and the self-elected President Armelio. There, Craig is finally able to confront the sources of his anxiety.
“A book about depression that’s not the least bit depressing.” — Teen Vogue
“Insightful and utterly authentic . . . This is an important book.” — The New York Times
I so love this book. The funny parts are not the type that invalidates mental illness. It only shows the hard reality of having the illness in not so hard way.
Where to buy: It’s Kind of a Funny Story
My Heart and other Black Holes
“There are enough broken things in the world. You shouldn’t go around breaking things just for the fun of it”
Written by: Jasmine Warga
Synopsis: Sixteen-year-old physics nerd Aysel is obsessed with plotting her own death. With a mother who can barely look at her without wincing, classmates who whisper behind her back, and a father whose violent crime rocked her small town, Aysel is ready to turn her potential energy into nothingness.
There’s only one problem: she’s not sure she has the courage to do it alone. But once she discovers a website with a section called Suicide Partners, Aysel’s convinced she’s found her solution: a teen boy with the username FrozenRobot (aka Roman) who’s haunted by a family tragedy is looking for a partner.
Even though Aysel and Roman have nothing in common, they slowly start to fill in each other’s broken life. But as their suicide pact becomes more concrete, Aysel begins to question whether she really wants to go through with it. Ultimately, she must choose between wanting to die or trying to convince Roman to live so they can discover the potential of their energy together. Except that Roman may not be so easy to convince.
“At times poignant, bitter, and funny, this narrative capture [a] unique voice that questions what it means to die-and to live.” — Booklist
Where to buy: My Heart and other Black Holes
Have you heard or read one of these books before? Or do you know other titles with the same topic like the ones I mentioned. Tell us about these novels below.
Do you know that some of these titles were actually turned into films? See Love and Mental Illness in a Movie.