Giving Voice to Mental Illness: Challenger Deep and Beyond

It’s not unShelf Renewalusual these days for a YA novel to cross over and become a must-read title for adults. Neal Shusterman’s National Book Award winner, Challenger Deep (2015), stands out because the otherwordly adventure it describes isn’t a dystopian adrenaline-fest—it’s the story a schizophrenic teen begins to live inside. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness: “1 in 5 adults experiences a mental health condition every year. 1 in 20 lives with a serious mental illness such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. In addition to the person directly experiencing by a mental illness, family, friends and communities are also affected.” Through the metaphor of fiction or the power of memoir, readers wanting a better understanding of mental illness may find helpful perspectives in the pages of these books.

After a While You Just Get Used To It, by Gwendolyn Knapp

All the Bright Places, by Jennifer NivenChallenger Deep Cover

A Beautiful Mind, by Sylvia Nasar

Belzhar, by Meg Wolitzer

Breathless, by Jessica Warman

Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger

Crazy, by Han Nolan

Cut, by Patricia McCormick

Freaks Like Us, by Susan Vaught

Furiously Happy: A Funny Book about Horrible Things, by Jenny Lawson

Girl, Interrupted, by Susanna Kaysen

Hold Still, by Nina LaCour

Hurry Down Sunshine, by Micheal Greenberg

Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened, by Allie Brosh

The Impossible Knife of Memory, by Laurie Halse Anderson

Invisible, by Pete Hautman

It’s Kind of a Funny Story, by Ned Vizzini

Lowboy, by John Wray

The Memory Palace, by Mira Bartok

Monkey Mind: A Memoir of Anxiety, by Daniel B. Smith

My Age of Anxiety: Fear, Hope, Dread, and the Search for Peace of Mind, by Scott Stossel

The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression, by Andrew Solomon

OCD Love Story, by Corey Ann Haydu

Prozac Nation, by Elizabeth Wurtze

Running with Scissors, by Augusten Burroughs

The Silver Linings Playbook, by Matthew Quick

An Unquiet Mind, by Kay Redfield Jamison

Will Grayson, Will Grayson, by John Green and David Levithan



About the Author:

Karen Kleckner Keefe is the director of the Hinsdale (IL) Public Library, a Booklist reviewer, and one of Library Journal's 2009 "Movers and Shakers." Follow her on Twitter at @KarenKleckner.

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