One of the most amazing aspects of young adult novels today is their diversity and understanding of being a teenager or young adult in a very active, fast paced world. Authors are opening doors and conquering topics that no one has dipped their toes into before, and they are doing it well. No matter what your color, age, gender, sexual orientation, physical or mental health situation is, these four books can broaden your horizons and start the thoughts necessary to understand those around us, no matter who they are.
1. Towers Falling by Jewell Parker Rhodes
This book managed to conquer two major issues: that of “seeing white” in characters and of 9/11 now being taught as history to kids, for the first time. “Seeing white” is the idea that as soon as a person starts a book, they assume the character is white unless they are told otherwise. This ties into the story as the family at the heart of the novel is African American. They live in present day New York and the protagonist, Deja, is a fifth grader learning about the 9/11 terrorist attacks for the first time in history class.
2. George by Alex Gino
More of a middle grade book, but awesome nonetheless. The novel is about George, who is biologically a boy, but knows she is a girl at heart, and her struggle and confusion through life and fourth grade. This is not a common topic for middle grade novels, but definitely should be discussed more openly in the future. I love how approachable George was to such a sensitive topic and I encourage all to pick it up and give it a go.
3. Girl Against the Universe by Paula Stokes
This is an amazing story of a girl suffering from PTSD. She has trouble doing a lot of ‘normal’ daily activities, but with the help of an amazing therapist and a boy (it is YA after all) she starts to be able to see past some of her intense and draining fears.
4. The Movie Version by Emma Wunsch
The main character in this book is a teenager who idolizes her older brother to the point where, when signs of mental illness begin to appear, she misses some major red flags by covering for him. When her brother is diagnosed with schizophrenia, she has to learn to live and go to school without her perfect older brother holding her hand, and realizes that he is still just as amazing, but in a different way. I really love how this book takes the reader through the process of diagnosis from a family member’s perspective.
These books are a great start to understanding those around you. As someone who suffers from PTSD, I can attest that empathy and understanding go a long way. Keep these books in mind as you strive to learn about other people and the struggles they face each day.
YouTube Channel: Sabrina The Teenage Reader
Featured image via Hope For Hire