Three Classic YA Novels that Open Eyes and Minds

Evelyn Johnson, Staff Writer

This months book suggestions will be all books you can learn about mental health through the mind of characters. 


Turtles All The Way Down by: John Green. 

Turtles all the Way Down is about 16 year old Aza who never intended to pursue the mystery of fugitive billionaire Russell Pickett, but there’s a hundred-thousand-dollar reward at stake and her Best and Most Fearless Friend, Daisy, is eager to investigate. Together, they navigate the short distance and broad divides that separate them from Russell Pickett’s son, Davis.

Aza is trying. She is trying to be a good daughter, a good friend, a good student, and maybe even a good detective, while also living within the ever-tightening spiral of her own thoughts.

The whole book is through Aza’s eyes and readers see her struggle with anxiety and OCD. The narrative is well written and sheds light on the fact that people with anxiety and OCD can function like people who don’t have it. It is a fairly quick read with not a ton of heaviness.


Perks of Being a Wallflowerby: Stephen Chbosky

TW: SA, talks of suicide, self harm, abuse, and substance misuse

Perks of Being a Wallflower is about Charlie as he charts a course through the strange world between adolescence and adulthood. Through letters to his old friend we learn how Charlie deals with: first dates, family drama, new friends, sex, drugs, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show, devastating loss, young love, and life on the fringes. Caught between trying to live his life and trying to run from it, Charlie must learn to navigate those wild and poignant roller-coaster days known as growing up.

This book is a heavier read. Charlie struggles with PTSD without adequate support. There are a lot of things to stop and process and we learn a lot about the impacts of trauma. The heavy topics are mixed with friendship, love, and feeling infinite. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone just be prepared for heavy topics and tears. 


Suicide Notesby: Michale Thomas Ford

TW: graphic descriptions of suicide, mental hospitals, SA, general death 

Fifteen-year-old Jeff wakes up on New Year’s Day to find himself in the hospital–specifically, in the psychiatric ward.

Despite the bandages on his wrists, he’s positive this is all some huge mistake. Jeff is perfectly fine, perfectly normal; not like the other kids in the hospital with him. But over the course of the next forty-five days, Jeff begins to understand why he ended up here–and realizes he has more in common with the other kids than he thought. 

 Suicide Notes deals with a lot of hard heavy topics. It may be a little uncomfortable to read. It may be a little difficult at times but it is definitely worth the read if you are able. I’m not quite sure what mental illnesses Jeff has but he is definitely struggling with something’s. Because of this the majority of the book is spent in a psych ward and watching how things roll out in there. I highly highly recommend this to anyone but you need to be prepared for heavy and uncomfortable conversations.