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Little Willow [userpic]

Booklist: Tough Issues for Teens

October 1st, 2018 (09:00 am)
hopeful

Current Mood: hopeful
Current Song: Just Enough by Aslyn

One afternoon in the bookstore, a young woman in her late teens approached me and said, "Excuse me. Can you help me? I want some books like . . . " She named a few teen fiction titles that dealt with drug abuse and anorexia. She looked slightly uncomfortable but mostly excited. I told her that I could recommend many good books. Within minutes, she was sitting on the floor in the teen fiction section, a plastic basket full to the brim with books, with additional titles in her hand and next to her knees and her feet.

We had a great discussion. I was happy on any levels: happy that she felt comfortable enough to come to me, happy that she was open-minded, happy that I got some realistic, well-written books in her hand. This urged me to make a list of books dealing tough issues - eating disorders, loss and grieving, addiction, abuse, and so forth.

Due to subject matter, many of these books are recommended for older teens as well as adults, be they parents, teachers, librarians, or simply avid readers.

I've read every title on this list, and have given each book a rating according to the United States movie rating guide - G, PG, PG-13, or R - based on content, and a number of stars - four being the best - based on quality (my personal opinion).

PARENTAL ABUSE OR NEGLECT - Physical or emotional abuse, alcoholism, etc.
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ABUSE BY OTHERS - physical or emotional abuse; date or acquaintance rape; accusations, secrets and lies
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TEACHER/STUDENT RELATIONSHIPS - be they romantic relationships or rumors or no romance, but a definite abuse of power
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POSITIVE & PLATONIC TEACHER/STUDENT RELATIONSHIPS - teachers positively influencing and educating their pupils
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PARENT/CHILD RELATIONSHIPS - reconnecting with or distancing oneself from absentee parents, dealing with restrictions and expectations
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LONG-LOST SIBLINGS - reconnecting with siblings, or meeting them for the first time
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ORIENTATION AND/OR GENDER ROLES
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VIOLENCE AT SCHOOL
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EATING DISORDERS
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PHYSICAL DISORDERS/INJURIES/SPECIAL NEEDS - protagonist, siblings, friends
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BODY CHANGES - growing up and dealing with natural physical changes (as opposed to health, weight, or body image issues; disorders/injuries are in a separate list above this one)
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TEENAGE PREGNANCY - may also deal with adoption and/or abortion
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TEENAGE ALCOHOLISM
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MENTAL ILLNESS OF A PARENT, RELATIVE, OR PEER
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DEPRESSION
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RECOVERY/SUPPORT GROUPS
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CUTTING
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STEALING
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DIVORCE, SEPARATION, AND/OR STEPFAMILIES - parents dating, getting remarried, etc
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LOSS OR PHYSICAL ILLNESS OF A PARENT
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LOSS OR ILLNESS OF A SIBLING
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LOSS OR ILLNESS OF A FRIEND OR PEER
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LOSS OR ILLNESS OF A GRANDPARENT
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LOSS OR ILLNESS OF ANOTHER CLOSE RELATIVE AND/OR ADULT
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PROTAGONIST WITH AN ILLNESS
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DRUG ADDICTION
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CAR ACCIDENTS (and similar accidents)
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INCARCERATION OF A RELATIVE
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ADOPTION - Also foster care, group homes, and counseling
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KIDNAPPING
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CULTURAL IDENTITY
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SUICIDE OR SUICIDAL TENDENCIES
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ACADEMICS - cheating, excelling, or otherwise dealing with academic pressure
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SOCIAL STATUS - at school or otherwise with peers; popularity, bullying, et al.
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PEER PRESSURE
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RELIGION
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POLITICS
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ACTIVISM
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INTERNET SAFETY - and/or cyberbullying
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SEEKING SHELTER - family shelters, homelessness, runaways
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I hope that this list helps readers of all ages find books they may be too shy to openly discuss with a bookseller or librarian. I want those readers to know they may leave a comment here and tell me which books they have found valuable. Most of all, I want them to know they can talk to their friends or adults they know in order to get the answers and help they may need.

If you would like for me to add more titles about a certain subject, or if you want more information about any of the books on the list, please leave a comment.

Special thanks to those who have shown their support of this list by offering me links, comments, and compliments, such as Jen Robinson, Bookseller Chick, Robin Brande, Sassymonkey at BlogHer, Daisy Whitney, Caroline, Bookstore People, and Jennifer R. Hubbard.

Comments

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Posted by: mindmadness (mindmadness)
Posted at: May 31st, 2008 03:25 am (UTC)

Does anyone know any good books about cutting/self harm/self injury? or about mental hospitals/clinics?

I have read the book cut and absolutely loved it ... any ideas?
Also read (and loved): It's kind of a funny story, Impulse, Scarred by Monique Polak, The rules of survival, I don't want to be crazy and something girl.


Thanks so much

Posted by: Little Willow (slayground)
Posted at: May 31st, 2008 03:39 am (UTC)

Cut is striking, I agree. If you're looking for a story with similiar situations wherein the protagonist is also hospitalized, I recommend Checkers by John Marsden and Get Well Soon by Julie Halpern. If you'd rather the story be about someone who is dealing with the hospitalization of a loved one, try Letters from Rapunzel by Sara Lewis Holmes.

Posted by: mindmadness (mindmadness)
Posted at: June 2nd, 2008 02:31 am (UTC)

Posted by: Little Willow (slayground)
Posted at: June 2nd, 2008 02:34 am (UTC)

Posted by: ((Anonymous))
Posted at: June 30th, 2008 10:48 pm (UTC)
New Teacher/Student Relationship Title

Just read "Prey" by Lurlene McDaniel. Told from the point of view of a male high school student, the teacher he is in a relationship with, and a female student crushing on the protagonist. Not your typical Lurlene McDaniel book.

S.Dixon

Posted by: Little Willow (slayground)
Posted at: June 30th, 2008 11:14 pm (UTC)
Re: New Teacher/Student Relationship Title

I have read that book.

Posted by: minerva66.myopenid.com (ext_133932)
Posted at: February 27th, 2009 06:38 am (UTC)

Thanks for the heads up on your list. Haven't read many of them. Issues is not my most often read genre. Do have to say that Speak is an incredible book from the standpoint of a rape survivor. It totally disrupts your life as happens in this book. You become a different person. Art therapy or writing have got to be the best ways of recovering.

Madapple by Meldrum touches on religion and teen pregnancy. Beautifully written, but way different from anything else. Tender Morsels by Margo Lanagan is about rape by a father and others and how the girl protects herself from the world after. Fantasy, so maybe not so helpful, but interesting. Soul Searching ed by Lisa Rowe Fraustino is a good book of short stories with religion or beliefs subjects.

Posted by: Little Willow (slayground)
Posted at: February 27th, 2009 07:35 am (UTC)

Thank you!

I have a separate list for stories in which art is key:
Portrait of the Artist as a Young Person

I have read Madapple. Not yet Tender Morsels or Soul Searching.

Posted by: minerva66.myopenid.com (ext_133932)
Posted at: February 27th, 2009 06:48 am (UTC)
platonic teacher and violence at school

Looking through my own lists after seeing yours. Want to mention an older book that I just read recently that blew me away. The Freedom Writers Diary is an incredible book. I especially like the use of the journals to help the students deal with social problems. So many social problems involved. The students grow through the time period - educationally, emotionally, in confidence, etc. So incredible. Nonfiction.

Posted by: Little Willow (slayground)
Posted at: February 27th, 2009 07:29 am (UTC)
Re: platonic teacher and violence at school

I have yet to read it, though I've intended to - That, and Three Cups of Tea, among others in that category! Thanks!

(Deleted comment)
Posted by: Little Willow (slayground)
Posted at: March 17th, 2009 01:41 am (UTC)
Re: :D

:) Thank you! I hope you check some of the books out!

(Deleted comment)
Posted by: Little Willow (slayground)
Posted at: March 24th, 2009 02:24 pm (UTC)

You are welcome, and thank you for commenting!

Daughters of Eve is good, creepy, and good and creepy.

Posted by: ((Anonymous))
Posted at: April 6th, 2009 12:58 pm (UTC)
oh my word

What an incredible gift!!!!!

THIS is what book blogs are for!

Posted by: Little Willow (slayground)
Posted at: April 6th, 2009 03:37 pm (UTC)
Re: oh my word

Thank you so much! That is incredibly flattering. :)

Posted by: coloronline.blogspot.com (ext_168393)
Posted at: April 26th, 2009 06:12 am (UTC)
Re: oh my word

Posted by: Little Willow (slayground)
Posted at: April 26th, 2009 06:22 am (UTC)
Re: oh my word

Posted by: blackeyedsusans.blogspot.com (ext_83024)
Posted at: April 26th, 2009 10:32 pm (UTC)
Re: oh my word

Posted by: Little Willow (slayground)
Posted at: April 26th, 2009 11:13 pm (UTC)
Re: oh my word

Posted by: Jeannine Garsee (onegrapeshy)
Posted at: June 22nd, 2009 01:14 pm (UTC)

Hi, Little Willow! You reviewed BeforeAfterandSomebodyinBetween a couple years ago. I hope you'll consider adding this to your list. :)

Posted by: Little Willow (slayground)
Posted at: June 22nd, 2009 01:23 pm (UTC)

Oh, yes. Thank you.

(Deleted comment)
Posted by: Little Willow (slayground)
Posted at: June 26th, 2009 09:58 pm (UTC)

That's on my to-read list!

Posted by: ceceliabedelia.blogspot.com (ceceliabedelia.blogspot.com)
Posted at: June 26th, 2009 10:33 pm (UTC)

PIECES OF ME by Charlotte Gingras is a book that will fit in the parental abuse/neglect (emotional) category, and was one of the ALA's best books for YA in 2008. Just read it myself and loved it.

Posted by: Little Willow (slayground)
Posted at: June 27th, 2009 01:31 am (UTC)

I'll have to check that out. Thanks!

Posted by: ((Anonymous))
Posted at: June 27th, 2009 11:54 am (UTC)

You have some awesome lists there! In July, I'll be holding a Sex in Teen Lit Month (http://inkandpaperspecials.blogspot.com/), and I have a post I keep adding to of further reading. Would it be ok if I used your Orientation and/or Gender Roles and Teenage Pregnancy lists in it please? I would credit and link to this post.

I have so much going on right now, and I am bound to forget the URL to this post, so would you mind emailing me to let me know, please? I'd be so grateful! joannestapley[at]googlemail[dot]com Cheers!

Posted by: Little Willow (slayground)
Posted at: June 27th, 2009 03:14 pm (UTC)

Certainly! Thanks!

Posted by: daisywhitney (daisywhitney)
Posted at: October 22nd, 2009 07:14 pm (UTC)

That's a really encouraging story. Sounds like you were in the right place at the right time and really helped her!

Posted by: Little Willow (slayground)
Posted at: October 22nd, 2009 07:21 pm (UTC)

Thank you. :)

Posted by: daisywhitney (daisywhitney)
Posted at: February 1st, 2010 12:26 am (UTC)

This is a fantastic and comprehensive list! I am going to write about it and link to it on my site, daisywhitney.com/blog this Tues Feb 2!

Posted by: Little Willow (slayground)
Posted at: February 1st, 2010 01:17 am (UTC)

Wowza. Thank you, Daisy!

Posted by: ((Anonymous))
Posted at: February 3rd, 2010 01:15 am (UTC)

Great list! Bait by Alex Sanchez is a great Parental Abuse book

Posted by: Little Willow (slayground)
Posted at: February 3rd, 2010 02:48 am (UTC)

Thanks! I've yet to read that title.

Posted by: laurelgarver.blogspot.com (ext_215131)
Posted at: February 4th, 2010 02:37 pm (UTC)
great resource --and some additions!

This is a wonderful resource! And it looks like it continues to grow.

A few additions to consider:
Protagonist with illness
Before I Die by Jenny Downham --PG-13 (leukemia)

Loss of other relative
Thirteen Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson -- PG (aunt)

Religion
Once Was Lost by Sara Zarr -- G

Posted by: Little Willow (slayground)
Posted at: February 4th, 2010 03:15 pm (UTC)
Re: great resource --and some additions!
Tink

Thank you! I've read Once Was Lost and 13LBE, both of which I greatly enjoyed, and though I have them on other booklists and reviews like Suggested Sets http://slayground.livejournal.com/153919.html and my spotlight on Maureen Johnson's novels http://slayground.livejournal.com/330290.html but somehow, I forgot to add them to the Tough Issues list! I'll do that straightaway.

Since I haven't read Before I Die, I can't add it to this list yet.

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