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10 Young Adult Books That Talk About Anxiety and Depression

Aside from Thirteen Reasons Why, these novels also teach us how to respect and understand mental health.
IMAGE Delacorte Books for Young Readers, HarperTeen
  1. All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

This critically-acclaimed novel (ICYDK: It'll be adapted into a movie starring Elle Fanning next year!) focuses on two teens, Violet and Theodore, who both want to escape their small town. After Violet saves Theodore from committing suicide, the two develop a friendship that soon turns into romance. However, while Violet flourishes, Theodore still deals with his demons—painting a picture of what mental illness is truly like. 

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  1. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

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Now a cult classic and a movie (starring Logan Lerman and Emma Watson, no less), we're all familiar with the heartfelt story of introverted freshman Charlie, and his relationship with seniors Sam and Patrick. As Charlie struggles with bullying while navigating the school halls, we catch a glimpse of the strength that lies behind his repressed trauma.

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  1. We Were Liars by E. Lockhart 

As the eldest grandchild, Cadence feels pressured within the perfect and wealthy Sinclair family. She and her cousins spend each summer at her grandparents' private island, until one day she can't remember what traumatic things happened to her during Summer Fifteen. This critically-acclaimed novel deals with self-acceptance and anxiety, complete with a shocking plot twist that will leave you hooked until the end. 

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  1. The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness

This novel focuses on your typical—and not-so-typical—high school life, particularly that of the so-called "indie kids," who deal with a multitude of things: OCD, eating disorders, depression, unrequited love, absent parents, and more. A blend of fantasy and contemporary fiction, this book shows us that beauty can still exist despite your problems. 

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  1. Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella

Although its author is known for her shopaholic-centric adult novels, Finding Audrey is a welcome change, with the eponymous character being a sweet, 14-year-old girl who deals with social anxiety as a result of being bullied. No matter how old you are, you'll surely appreciate and relate to the insecurities and problems the characters are faced with. 

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  1. It's Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini 

Based on the author's own battle with depression, the touching book focuses on teenage Craig, whose stressful academic demands manifest into eating disorders, insomnia, and suicidal thoughts. After being admitted to a psychiatric hospital, he befriends and learns from more people like him. Read the book or watch the movie—which stars Keir Gilchrist and Emma Roberts—to gain more insights on mental health. 

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  1. Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson

 

Wintergirls starts with Lia finding out her ex-bestie Cassie, who called her 33 times in the night, has died of bulimia. Lia herself struggles with eating disorders, and she cuts the pain away on her skin. Trigger warning: This book is not for the faint of heart, but it also accurately depicts the struggle of people who deal with anorexia, bulimia, and self-hatred.

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  1. The White Darkness by Geraldine McCaughrean

Sym has spent all 14 years of her life dealing with her dead father's business partner: the deceptive Uncle Victor, a madman who believes in hollow earth theories. Luckily, her alter ego, Victor Oates—who's been dead 90 years—is there to help. One day, Uncle Victor brings Sym to Antartica to find the legendary Symme's Hole. This Printz-awardee book sheds light on how even non-sexual abuse can also affect people psychologically.

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  1. Looking for Alaska by John Green

From one of our favorite authors comes a controversial yet surprisingly accurate book on mental illness. The award-winning novel focuses on teenage Miles, and his encounter with the beautiful but emotionally unstable Alaska Young. Looking for Alaska provides an inside look on the dangers of teenage life, as well as mental illness—particularly Alaska's—whose enigmatic behavior is the driving force of the story.

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  1. Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick

Although this highly-praised book is teeming with humor and dry wit, it's also an good example of someone who has depression. It details 17-year-old Leonard Peacock's descent into depression, his repressed trauma from sexual abuse, and his plans to shoot himself and his ex-best friend Asher, who abandoned him for the popular crowd. Trigger warning: It contains several graphic thoughts, but nonetheless it's an accurate novel.

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What books are you planning on reading, Candy Girls? Sound off in the comments!

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