Books on Tough Topics

Books on Tough Topics

Life can be hard when you are a teen. Luckily, there are plenty of books to help get you through the tough issues in life.  

Below is a list of books divided by topic just to get you started exploring our collections, thanks to our Benton Teen Librarian, Mrs. Jenn. Hopefully these books will give you a little hope and help you see that things won’t always be this hard. You’ll find nonfiction to give you information as well as fiction to help you relate. Remember you aren’t alone when you are going through these tough moments.

Anxiety:

Freaking Out: Real Life Stories About Anxiety

Presents thirteen true accounts of teenagers with varying levels of anxiety disorders, exploring how they addressed their anxiety and dealt with such issues as peer pressure, perfectionism, grief, and self-mutilation.

The Anxiety Survival Guide for Teens by Jennifer Shannon

Do you have problems with anxiety? The Anxious Teen Survival Guide is a much-needed, go-to guide to help you finally break free from the worry and ruminations that can get in the way of reaching your goals. If you have anxiety, your fears and worries can keep you from feeling confident and independent. And if you're like countless other anxious teens, you may even avoid situations that cause you anxiety altogether-leaving you stuck in a cycle of worry and avoidance. Based in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), this book helps you identify your "monkey mind"-the primitive part of the brain where anxious thoughts arise. You'll also be able to determine if you suffer from generalized anxiety, phobias, social anxiety, panic and agoraphobia, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), or separation anxiety. Full of powerful yet simple cartoon illustrations, this book will teach you practical strategies for handling even the toughest situations that previously caused you to feel anxious or worried. If you're ready to feel more independent, more confident, and be your best, this unique book will show you how"-

Depression:

Dear Life, You Suck by Scott Blagden

Irreverent, foul-mouthed, seventeen-year-old Cricket Cherpin, living under the watchful eye of Mother Mary at a Catholic boys' home in Maine, has such bleak prospects he is considering suicide when Wynona Bidaban steps into his world.

Dear Evan Hansen by Val Emmich

Evan is shy, lonely, and bullied for it. He has a chance encounter with Connor Murphy--just before Connor commits suicide. Evan's life suddenly gets turned around, and suddenly he isn't invisible anymore to the girl of his dreams--Connor's sister, Zoe, who believes Evan was Connor's only friend. As Evan goes from being a nobody to everyone's hero and a social media superstar, Evan is filled with confidence ... until things start unraveling.

Just a Normal Tuesday by Kim Turrisi

It was a normal Tuesday until Kai discovered a letter, tucked into a pile of their family's mail, from her older sister, Jen. "If you are reading this, I am already gone." Jen has committed suicide. Dealing with Jen's funeral and with their devastated parents, Kai is also searching for answers. Soon she's caught in a vicious downward spiral, self-medicating and lashing out at the people she loves. When her parents send Kai to the Treehouse, a summer camp for grieving teens, she's not a happy camper. Then she begins to share her feelings, find a way forward, even laugh ... and fall in love.

What Happens Now by Jennifer Castle

Ari, working to overcome depression, enters into a summer romance with Camden, a boy she has long admired from afar.

Impulse by Ellen Hopkins

Three teens who meet at Reno, Nevada's Aspen Springs mental hospital after each has attempted suicide connect with each other in a way they never have with their parents or anyone else in their lives.

Eating Disorders:

Hunger: A Memoir of My Body by Roxane Gay

Gay has written ... about food and bodies, using her own emotional and psychological struggles as a means of exploring our shared anxieties over pleasure, consumption, appearance, and health. As a woman who describes her own body as 'wildly undisciplined,' Roxane understands the tension between desire and denial, between self-comfort and self-care

The Art of Starving by Sam Miller

Matt's stomach stabs and twists, pleading for a meal, but Matt won't give in. The hunger clears his mind, keeps him sharp -- and the less he eats the more he seems to have the ability to see things he shouldn't be able to see. Maybe even the authority to bend time and space. And Matt needs to be as sharp as possible if he's going to find out just how Tariq and his band of high school bullies drove his sister, Maya, away. But Matt doesn't realize there are many kinds of hunger -- and he isn't in control of all of them.

Not Otherwise Specified by Hannah Moskowitz

Auditioning for a New York City performing arts high school could help Etta escape from her Nebraska all-girl school, where she's not gay enough for her former friends, not sick enough for her eating disorders group, and not thin enough for ballet--but it may also mean real friendships.

Elena Vanishing by Elena Dunkle

Seventeen-year-old Elena is vanishing. Every day means renewed determination, so every day means fewer calories. This is the story of a girl whose armor against anxiety becomes artillery against herself as she battles on both sides of a lose-lose war in a struggle with anorexia

Gun Violence:

Hate List by Jennifer Brown

Sixteen-year-old Valerie, whose boyfriend Nick committed a school shooting at the end of their junior year, struggles to cope with integrating herself back into high school life, unsure herself whether she was a hero or a villain.

Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds

There are three rules in the neighborhood: Don't cry ; Don't snitch ; Get revenge. Will takes his dead brother Shawn's gun, and gets in the elevator on the 7th floor. As the elevator stops on each floor, someone connected to Shawn gets on. Someone already dead. Dead by teenage gun violence. And each has something to share with Will.

On the Come Up by Angie Thomas

When sixteen-year-old Bri, an aspiring rapper, pours her anger and frustration into her first song, she finds herself at the center of a controversy.

Police Violence:

All American Boys by Jason Reynolds

When sixteen-year-old Rashad is mistakenly accused of stealing, classmate Quinn witnesses his brutal beating at the hands of a police officer who happens to be the older brother of his best friend. Told through Rashad and Quinn's alternating viewpoints.

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

After witnessing her friend's death at the hands of a police officer, Starr Carter's life is complicated when the police and a local drug lord try to intimidate her in an effort to learn what happened the night Kahlil died.

Tyler Johnson Was Here by Jay Coles

When Marvin Johnson's twin, Tyler, goes to a party, Marvin decides to tag along to keep an eye on his brother. But what starts as harmless fun turns into a shooting, followed by a police raid. The next day Tyler is missing, and it's up to Marvin to find him. But when Tyler is found dead, a video leaked online tells an even more chilling story: Tyler has been shot and killed by a police officer. Terrified as his mother unravels, mourning a brother who is now a hashtag, Marvin must learn what justice and freedom really mean.

Anger is a Gift by Mark Oshiro

Six years ago, Moss Jefferies' father was murdered by an Oakland police officer. Along with losing a parent, the media's vilification of his father and lack of accountability has left Moss with near crippling panic attacks. Now, in his sophomore year of high school, Moss and his fellow classmates find themselves increasingly treated like criminals in their own school. New rules. Random locker searches. Constant intimidation and Oakland Police Department stationed in their halls. Despite their youth, the students decide to organize and push back against the administration. When tensions hit a fever pitch and tragedy strikes, Moss must face a difficult choice: give in to fear and hate or realize that anger can actually be a gift.

Dear Martin by Nic Stone

Writing letters to the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., seventeen-year-old college-bound Justyce McAllister struggles to face the reality of race relations today and how they are shaping him.

Sexuality and Gender Identity:

Sex: A Book for Teens by Nikol Hasler

"This honest, funny, and in-depth read features chapters on all things sex, from sexual orientation and masturbation, to foreplay, first-time concerns, birth control, and protection against diseases. It also provides answers to questions posed by real teens on things you definitely want to know but might be afraid to ask.

The V Word: True Stories About First-Time Sex

Losing it. Popping your cherry. Handing in your V-card. First time sex is a big unknown. Will it be candlelight and rose petals or quick and uncomfortable? Is it about love or about lust? Deciding to have sex for the first time is a choice that's often fraught with anxiety and joy. But do you have anyone telling you what sex is really like? In The V-Word seventeen writers (including Christa Desir, Justina Ireland, Sara Ryan, Carrie Mesrobian, Erica Lorraine Scheidt, and Jamia Wilson) pull back the sheets and tell all, covering everything from straight sex to queer sex, diving-in versus waiting, and even the exhilaration and disappointment that blankets it all. Some of their experiences happened too soon, some at just the right time, but all paint a broad picture of what first-time sex is really like

Transgender 101: A Simple Guide to A Complex Issue by Teich, Nicholas

What does it mean to be transgender?: an introduction to the term -- Sexual orientation versus gender: what's the difference? -- Coming out as transgender: when, why, and how people come out -- Transition: the social, the emotional, and the medical -- The history of transgenderism and its evolution over time -- Transgenderism as a mental health issue: the controversy over transgender identity as a disorder -- Discrimination: exploring the barriers that transpeople face -- Lesser-known types of transgenderism: understanding cross-dressers, genderqueer people, drag queens, and more.

Wandering Son

The fifth grade. The threshold to puberty, and the beginning of the end of childhood innocence. Shuichi Nitori and his new friend Yoshino Takatsuki have happy homes, loving families, and are well-liked by their classmates. But they share a secret that further complicates a time of life that is awkward for anyone: Shuichi is a boy who wants to be a girl, and Yoshino is a girl who wants to be a boy.

None of the Above by Gregorio I. W.

A groundbreaking story about a teenage girl who discovers she's intersex...and what happens when her secret is revealed to the entire school. Incredibly compelling and sensitively told, None of the Above is a thought-provoking novel that explores what it means to be a boy, a girl, or something in between

Rethink Normal: A Memoir in Transition by Katie Hill

In this Young Adult memoir, a transgender girl shares her personal journey of growing up as a boy and then undergoing gender reassignment during her teens

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