Reading List: Young Adult Fiction about Mental/ Psychological Abuse

I have previously posted reading lists for physical abuse and sexual abuse, and it’s high time I published one about mental, emotional, or psychological abuse. Mental abuse can be just as damaging as physical abuse, but is harder to recognize , and not likely to get the same kind of attention and treatment as physical abuse. There are a number of studies and stats available on mental abuse; it would appear that somewhere between 30 and 43 percent of adults have experienced some form or mental or psychological abuse as children or in their intimate partner relationships.

As usual, my YA books featuring characters who experience primarily mental abuse are on top, followed by some other choices in popular literature.

My books that include main characters who are (primarily) mentally abused:

bypass-3d-mock-up

By-Pass, Breaking the Pattern #3

It’s better when she’s happy.
Bobby is a geeky teen who is convinced that his new foster home is everything he has ever hoped for.
His foster mom Katya is so different than any he has ever had; but as her behavior becomes more and more unpredictable and disturbing, he comes to realize that both he and Katya’s daughter Zane are in trouble.
The crazy thing is, Bobby doesn’t want to leave her, and new revelations from Bobby’s own forgotten past throw his quest for a real family into further turmoil.
Is Justine crazy?
Everyone thinks so…
Her mother. The kids at school, and the teachers and administrators too. Even the police who pick her up from her night rambles. Maybe them most of all.
Justine’s therapist says she is ‘troubled’, but it means the same thing. He thinks that her vivid, reoccurring nightmares and atrocious behavior point to some trauma in her past; but Em, Justine’s mother, can’t explain it.
Justine used to have Christian, her best friend and skateboard partner. He was the only one who accepted her. Maybe because skating is the only time that Justine is really free to be herself. Now that Christian is gone… Justine keeps thinking things can’t get any worse.
Even as she sees her life spinning further and further out of control, Justine can’t give up her sense of who she is—someone far different than the loving daughter Em expects her to be—to just fit in and be happy. She is sure that Em secretly holds the key to who Justine really is. But if she does, Em isn’t talking.
These signs shall follow those who believe…
On the run from Social Services and others who do not understand their beliefs, Nathan and his mom, faith-healer Billie Ashbury move into yet another a new town.
Nathan again faces the challenges of making new friends and of keeping his family’s secrets. But what he really struggles with is his wavering faith and reconciling his actions with what his devoted mother has taught him from the cradle. Could disobeying her ever be right?
His very life could depend on the answer.

Other books on Mental/Psychological Abuse:

Finding YA books that were more about mental abuse than physical abuse is difficult. Most of the book lists out there combine physical and mental abuse into the same group. Here, then, is my attempt at books that focus more on the emotional abuse:

In If You Find Me by Emily Murdoch, a broken-down camper hidden deep in a national forest is the only home fifteen-year-old Carey can remember. The trees keep guard over her threadbare existence, with the one bright spot being Carey’s younger sister, Jenessa, who depends on Carey for her very survival. All they have is each other, as their mentally ill mother comes and goes with greater frequency. Until that one fateful day their mother disappears for good, and two strangers arrive. Suddenly, the girls are taken from the woods and thrust into a bright and perplexing new world of high school, clothes and boys.

Now, Carey must face the truth of why her mother abducted her ten years ago, while haunted by a past that won’t let her go… a dark past that hides many a secret, including the reason Jenessa hasn’t spoken a word in over a year. Carey knows she must keep her sister close, and her secrets even closer, or risk watching her new life come crashing down.

On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick’s clever and beautiful wife disappears. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn’t doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife’s head, but passages from Amy’s diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media—as well as Amy’s fiercely doting parents—the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he’s definitely bitter—but is he really a killer? 
To his friends, popular and handsome sixteen-year-old Nick Andreas has led a charmed life. But the guys in Nick’s anger management class know differently. So does his ex-girlfriend Caitlin. Now it looks like the only person who doesn’t realize how far from perfect Nick’s life has become is Nick himself.
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When Alex falls for the charming new boy at school, Cole — a handsome, funny, sports star who adores her — she can’t believe she’s finally found her soul mate . . . someone who truly loves and understands her.

At first, Alex is blissfully happy. Sure, Cole seems a little jealous of her relationship with her close friend Zack, but what guy would want his girlfriend spending all her time with another boy? As the months pass, though, Alex can no longer ignore Cole’s small put-downs, pinches, or increasingly violent threats.

As Alex struggles to come to terms with the sweet boyfriend she fell in love with and the boyfriend whose “love” she no longer recognizes, she is forced to choose — between her “true love” and herself.

silently
Everyone is entitled to making their own choices in life, but a decision can make or break you. For Jacinta Kelly, hers came in the form of running away from everything that reminded her of her roots. 
Living in rural Ireland was hard enough, but living with her mother’s mental illness and her obsession with her garden took its toll. One winter, the world as she knows it changes. Jacinta becomes aware of her own mortality, and how fragile her existence truly is. 
Alone and frightened; to live or die, the choice is hers.

Tell me what you think!

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