Reading list: Young Adult Fiction about Depression

I previously published a Reading List for Young Adult Fiction About Psychosis. Today I am going to tackle depression.

I encountered a challenge in preparing this list, and that is that they are depressing! I attempted to pick books that were not so depressing that they would trigger the reader, but it was not an easy task. I have not read a lot of these books so I had to gauge how depressing each was by the cover and description, and to try to pick those with redeeming qualities.

As before, I have started with my own books that feature main characters who have depression or whose caregivers have depression. There are duplicates from the psychosis list, since characters may have both psychosis and depression/bipolar, or there may be separate characters with psychosis and depression/bipolar.

I’m interested in hearing your comments! What books would you add to the list? What do you like? What did you not like?

My books that include main characters with depression (or bipolar) are:

 

She Wore Mourning

A dead child.

A mother deep in mourning.

Private Investigator Zachary Goldman’s life isn’t all roses, but he tries to put his own shattered life behind him to investigate the death of five-year-old Declan Bond.

Declan’s death has been ruled an accident, but his grandmother thinks there is more to it. She fears Declan’s mother will not be able to find peace until Zachary can give them an answer once and for all. But as Zachary digs into the circumstances surrounding Declan’s death, he finds that all is not as it seems, and somebody doesn’t want him to find the truth.

 

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Looking Over Your Shoulder

Just because you’re paranoid, that doesn’t mean someone isn’t out to get you.

Things were going well for Abe.  Despite all of his past struggles with mental illness, he was happily married, had three wonderful children, a nice home, and a fantastic consulting business that satisfied his creativity and brought in a good income.

But you can never get too comfortable.  When Abe becomes a prime suspect in a jewel heist – one of the largest successful jewel heists in history – his schizophrenia becomes unmanageable and everything begins to spiral out of control.  Abe’s own investigation into the heist has the jewel thieves hot on his tail… but are they really, or is he just losing the battle against his inner demons?

 

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Deviation, Breaking the Pattern #1

“You’re a good kid, Henry.”

Everyone knew that he was a good guy; geeky, responsible, hard-working.  Henry has had a lot to deal with in the past.  Now, as he should be focusing on his schooling and preparing himself for the future, he is hindered by abuse, the challenge of raising his baby brother while dealing with his mother’s deep depressions, and the return of a ghost from the past Henry has tried his best to forget.

But it seems that Henry can’t avoid the nastiness of life.  As hard as he tries, it’s one more disaster after another as his life spirals out of control.

Can Henry escape the darkness, or is he doomed to be consumed by it?

 

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Ruby, Between the Cracks

If you asked Ruby, she’d tell you she’s happy with her life.  She’s tough and independent and doesn’t depend on anyone else.  The road that has led her here has not been easy, and she’s blocked a lot of it from her memory.

But things aren’t as rosy as she would have everyone believe, and the road ahead of her is filled not only with gangs, drugs, and depression, but other challenges that Ruby hasn’t even imagined.

 

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Don’t Forget Steven

He never told what went on behind closed doors. But this time, he can’t remember.

Things never have been easy for Steven. He accepts that, and just makes the best of things. He might not have parents or a happy home. Or enough to eat most days. But at least he has a couple of loyal friends who stand by him and help out when they can. At least he has school, someplace he can go to escape the abuse.

But just when he thought things couldn’t get much worse, they did.

Steven is accused of murder. But that isn’t the worst part. The really bad part is not even knowing if he did it.

 

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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.

 

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June & Justin, Between the Cracks #2

Justin had made a mistake. A big, life-changing mistake.

He already failed June once. He wasn’t there when she needed him, and because of him, their lives will never be the same. June is everything to Justin, and he must be everything to her. He must protect June at all costs. Justin is prepared spend the rest of his life keeping her from getting hurt again.

But it seems they are always falling behind, barely keeping one step ahead of the nightmares.

There is always one more hazard, just around the corner.

 

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Cynthia has a Secret

One day, fifteen-year-old Carmina Knight’s life was perfect, and the next, she’d lost everything. Her family, her home, almost everything that she knew. Alone on the streets, she can’t trust anyone, but she also can’t make it alone.

Neil Crowther is the investigator on the Knight case. He knows that he has to unravel the web of deceit and track Carmina down quickly, or there will be no one left to save.

 

A few more with just links, to avoid making the list too long:

Once Brothers

Intersexion

Questing for a Dream

Michelle, Between the Cracks #3

Making Her Mark

The other books that I have picked out are:

 

this song

This Song Will Save Your Life

Making friends has never been Elise Dembowski’s strong suit. All throughout her life, she’s been the butt of every joke and the outsider in every conversation. When a final attempt at popularity fails, Elise nearly gives up. Then she stumbles upon a warehouse party where she meets Vicky, a girl in a band who accepts her; Char, a cute, yet mysterious disc jockey; Pippa, a carefree spirit from England; and most importantly, a love for DJing.

Told in a refreshingly genuine and laugh-out-loud funny voice, Leila Sales’ THIS SONG WILL SAVE YOUR LIFE is an exuberant novel about identity, friendship, and the power of music to bring people together.

 

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Hold Still

In the wake of her best friend Ingrid’s suicide, Caitlin is left alone, struggling to find hope and answers. When she finds the journal Ingrid left behind for her, she begins a journey of understanding and broadening her horizons that leads her to new friendships and first love. Nina LaCour brings the changing seasons of Caitlin’s first year without Ingrid to life with emotion, honesty, and captivating writing.

 

funnystory

It’s Kind of a Funny Story

Like many ambitious New York City teenagers, Craig Gilner sees entry into Manhattan’s Executive Pre-Professional High School as the ticket to his future. Determined to succeed at life-which means getting into the right high school to get into the right college to get the right job-Craig studies night and day to ace the entrance exam, and does. That’s when things start to get crazy. At his new school, Craig realizes that he isn’t brilliant compared to the other kids; he’s just average, and maybe not even that. He soon sees his once-perfect future crumbling away.

 

thirteen

Thirteen Reasons Why

Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a strange package with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers several cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker—his classmate and crush—who committed suicide two weeks earlier. Hannah’s voice tells him that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he’ll find out why.

Clay spends the night crisscrossing his town with Hannah as his guide. He becomes a firsthand witness to Hannah’s pain, and as he follows Hannah’s recorded words throughout his town, what he discovers changes his life forever.

 

sparrows

The Language of Sparrows

Brilliant and fluent in too many languages to count, 15-year-old Sierra Wright can’t seem to communicate what is important to her in any language. Though April Wright stubbornly keeps an upbeat attitude about her daughter’s future, she has let her own dreams slip away. Just across the bridge lives old Luca, scarred from his time in a Romanian gulag years before. Though he has seemingly given up on people, Sierra is drawn to him despite his prickly edges.

No one else is comfortable with the unpredictable old man spending time alone with Sierra, not even Luca’s son. Yet it is this unconventional relationship that will bring two families together to form friendships and unearth their family stories, stories that just might give them all the courage to soar on wings toward a new future.

 

That Night

Drug overdoses don’t happen to girls with good grades and athletic prowess, with longtime friends and a devoted boyfriend. Or do they?

When high school seniors Cassidy and Sarah, along with Kayla’s boyfriend Paul, discover their best friend Kayla unconscious at a party, the idea that they have lost her to a heroin overdose is unbelievable. She didn’t use drugs, except the pain medicine prescribed for a soccer injury, and she had no reason to accept any from a stranger. The month that follows her death is filled with anxiety, sadness, frustration, and questions. Answers won’t bring Kayla back, however, so as Cass and Sarah struggle with the insensitive but predictable behavior of parents, classmates, and teachers, Paul falls into a depression that leads him down a dangerous path. With Kayla’s younger sister Mia in mind, the three of them work towards forging ahead without the girl who has held them together since elementary school.

 

Comments

  1. I’d love to see my YA drama, That Night on this list! I love the Between the Cracks series and am always sure our library has copies to share with our teen readers and adults who work with them. Thank you!

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