By Laura Mae
All The Bright Places- Jennifer Niven
All The Bright Places is a heartwarming Young Adult novel about unlikely friendships, love, and dealing with individual hardships. The book is written in alternating points of view of the two main characters; Violet Markey, one of the most popular girls in school, and Theodore Finch, a social outcast. The two are paired together for a school project and find themselves wandering Indiana, whilst learning more about each other and their individual mental health issues- as well as their attempts to help and understand each other. This book will yank you in and refuse to let you go- even long after you finish reading. The author, Jennifer Niven, offers a realistic and interesting insight into handling the mental health of others, as well as many mental health struggles such as depression and grief. It is a must read for anyone.
By Tilda Skene
The Midnight Library by Matt Haig
Matt Haig is known for his personal understanding of depression and anxiety, which is often reflected in his writing – his work Reasons to Stay Alive has helped many people who are experiencing bad mental health. However, his most recent fiction release, The Midnight Library, felt to me like a particularly poignant expression of the struggles of regret and depression. The protagonist, Nora, attempts suicide when she is found caught in a library between life and death in which each book holds a different way her life could have turned out if she had made different decisions. The theme of disillusionment resonated with me; having struggled with my mental health, I found Haig’s writing reassuring and hopeful. He highlights the importance of looking forward and living in the present, and the beauty of his writing highlights how literature can be something to live for.
By Maja Metera
Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
You might know Leigh Bardugo from her “Shadow and Bone” series – which has almost nothing to do with mental health. However, in her later works – “Six of Crows” duology, we meet Kaz – leader of one of most efficient Ketterdam gangs. His signature look includes leather gloves and a cane with crow-shaped handle. For most of the series, we don’t know why he insists on covering his hands – letting the rumours spread.
Kaz has PTSD – and the core traits of his character are built on this fact. Just like people on the internet become famous by laughing about their mental health. It’s not a healthy coping mechanism and shows that the trauma hasn’t been worked through. In my opinion, it is very close to how people refuse to seek help as it would mean showing their weakness. Moreover, it is not overly glorified and shows real life consequences of living with unhealed wounds. Therefore, I believe that this portrayal is both realistic and important.