Best YA Novels About Mental Health | TheReviewGeek Recommends

Young adult literature has increasingly embraced the important topic of mental health. Some of the best YA novels show the complex struggles, emotions and experiences faced by young people who are dealing with mental health issues. If you are looking for books that explore mental health while raising awareness and showing understanding and compassion, here are some of the best YA novels about mental health:

Highly Illogical Behaviour by John Corey Whales

Sixteen-year-old Solomon is agoraphobic, preferring to stay instead of the safety of his own home. The ambitious Lisa sees this as an opportunity to help Solomon and fix him, hoping that it will boost her chances of getting into a prestigious psychology program in college.

Lisa and her boyfriend Clark then enter Solmon’s isolated world, forming an unexpected friendship that challenges their preconceptions of mental illness and the boundaries of their own relationships.

Turtles All The Way Down by John Green

Turtles All the Way Down tells the story of Aza Holmes as she finds herself unexpectedly drawn into the investigation of the disappearance of a wealthy businessman Russell Pickett.

Motivated by the lucrative reward and supported by her loyal and adventurous friend Daisy, Aza navigates the challenges that arise as they connect with Pickett’s son, Davis. However, Aza is also dealing with her own inner turmoil, as she struggles with intrusive thoughts and anxiety that consume her every day. Amidst the chaos of searching for answers, Aza must try to balance being a devoted daughter, friend, student, and perhaps even a capable detective.

The Surprising Power of a Good Dumpling by Wai Chim

In The Surprising Power of a Good Dumpling, Anna Chiu is juggling the responsibilities of caring for her siblings and assisting at her father’s restaurant, while her mother remains bedridden. The arrival of a new delivery boy named Rory brings a much-needed distraction into Anna’s life, making her feel like a regular teenager despite the underlying issues at home.

However, when Anna’s mother starts to show signs of improvement, the family’s dynamic takes a turn for the worse, especially when her mother’s condition deteriorates again.  

All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

Theodore Finch has always been plagued by thoughts of death and ending his own life. However, with every attempt, he finds something good that prevents him from going through with it. On the other hand, Violet Markey is eagerly looking forward to the future and escaping the pain of her sister’s recent passing.  

One day, Finch and Violet meet on a school bell tower to undertake a school project. Through this meeting, they begin to bond with each other, and as you get to learn more about them, you soon realise that as Violet’s world begins to blossom, Finch’s world slowly begins to darken.

The Astonishing Colour of After by Emily X.R. Pan

The Astonishing Colour of After by Emily X.R. Pan tells the story of Leigh, who is devastated by her mother’s suicide and the mysterious note ‘I want you to remember’ she leaves behind. Left searching for answers, Leigh yearns for the support of her best friend, Axel, but their relationship becomes complicated after a shared kiss.

Led by a mystical red bird, Leigh embarks on a journey to Taiwan to meet her grandparents for the first time. Immersed in a world of art and memories, where reality and vibrant colours blend, Leigh confronts the ghosts of her past and strives to unravel her family’s hidden truths. Through it all, her ultimate goal is to remember and find solace.

A Quiet Kind of Thunder by Sara Barnard

Sara Barnard presents us with A Quiet Kind of Thunder, which follows the story of Steffi, who has chosen not to speak for most of her life, feeling invisible and unheard. When Rhys, a deaf student, joins her school, he sees Steffi for who she truly is. Assigned to support Rhys and equipped with basic sign language skills, Steffi discovers that her silence doesn’t matter to him.

As they develop alternative ways to communicate, Steffi realizes she does have a voice and starts to fall in love with the one person who emboldens her to use it. Their love story is not a sudden strike but a slow and powerful connection, much like the rumbling roll of thunder.

The Last Time We Say Goodbye by Cynthia Hand

This heartbreaking novel begins with, Lex’s life falling apart when her beloved brother Tyler commits suicide. Struggling to cope with the loss, Lex finds herself feeling like an outsider amongst her friends and family, constantly reminded of Tyler’s absence.

As she attempts to move on from the tragedy, Lex is haunted by a text Tyler sent her on the night of his death. Secrets and painful memories weigh heavy on her, but she discovers that it’s not just the presence of a real ghost that can keep a person from moving forward.

Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella

Sophie Kinsella introduces us to Audrey, a teenager who is confined to her home and unable to take off her dark glasses, even indoors. However, everything changes when her brother’s friend, Linus, enters her life.

With his warm and inviting smile and humourous notes, Linus gradually encourages Audrey to step outside of her comfort zone.  With Linus by her side, Audrey is able to discover a renewed sense of courage and begins to face the fears she once thought were insurmountable.

It’s Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini

Ambitious teenager Craig is the main protagonist of It’s Kind of a Funny Story. He is determined to achieve success by getting into the right high school (Manhattan’s Executive Pre-Professional High School) and securing a promising future. However, the pressure becomes overwhelming when he stops eating and sleeping, and soon after nearly kills himself.

Craig’s desperate situation lands him in a mental hospital, where he meets an eclectic group of people, and within this unconventional environment, Craig begins to confront the root causes of his anxiety.

The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness

Patrick Ness follows the story of Mikey, a high school student who believes he isn’t anything special. Mikey’s only concern is graduating, going to prom, and, if he can muster the courage, asking out his longtime crush Henna.

But amidst his mundane aspirations, danger looms in the form of someone threatening to blow up the high school. Mikey must navigate these extraordinary circumstances while still finding the extraordinary in his everyday life, even with the added challenge of his best friend being worshipped by mountain lions.

There we have it! Some of the best YA novels about mental health. If you are looking for touching stories that shine a light on the importance of your mental health, check these out. Have you read any of these novels? Were there any that you want to suggest? Comment below and let us know!

You can check out more book reviews here!

Leave a comment