Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Reading on a Theme: Mental Health Matters

May is mental health awareness month, and I started working on this post back in May as a way to participate and be conscious of and advocate for mental health. The books that I read for this post are truly gems. They tackle mental health concerns with such honesty. 

The New Girl in Town:
I've had my eye on Emery Lord ever since I read and loved Open Road Summer. When We Collided may be her best yet. Jonah's mother has been suffering from debilitating depression ever since her husband died. Vivi, a newcomer to the town, seems like just the breath of fresh air that Jonah's family needs. She's quirky and energetic and full of life. But as the story continues, it becomes that Vivi acts the way she does because she is bipolar. A raw and real portrayal of mental illness, I was incredibly impressed with Lord's writing because it so clearly expresses Vivi's thought process--meaning her chapters got increasingly more manic as she did. When We Collided was out April 5th, 2016.


Tennis as Therapy:
After surviving a series of serious accidents, Maguire suffers from anxiety, PTSD, and survivor's guilt. She's going to have to learn to manage her anxiety if she's to go to Ireland for a memorial for her father. With the help of her therapist, Maguire begins working on challenges to help her get there.  Maguire takes up tennis in order to be more social and there she becomes closer to Jordy, a boy she actually met at therapy. Jordy and Maguire's relationship is so sweet, and it's nice to see characters who are really good for each other. I've loved everything I've read by Paula Stokes. If you are looking for a book that is cute but also has some serious stuff pick this one. Girl Against the Universe was out May 17th, 2016. Review copy from Edelweiss.


Dance Dreams:
It's Samantha's dream to become a professional ballet dancer. She really good, but in recent months she's received a lot of negative attention because of her taller and curvier new body. The result is crippling anxiety over her appearance. Sam goes to summer treatment camp for artists and athletes who struggle with mental and emotional barriers. I love ballet books, and I love that Kathryn Holmes takes an honest look at some of its more painful aspects. Holmes wrote about her own time as a dancer here, and I think that her personal experiences translate to a book with real emotion--it got better and better with every page. How It Feels to Fly was out June 14th, 2016. Review copy from Edelweiss.


Shared Fandom:
It's been a little over a year since Ari Logan purposely hurt herself. Now that she's doing a bit better it's hard to live in a small town where everyone knows that she struggles with depression. Then Ari meets her from-afar crush and discovers that Camden and his friends also love Silver Arrow, a cancelled sci-fi show. With new friends and a new romance Ari feels like a new person.
 Not just a summer romance, this book confronts a lot of real problems, but it doesn't read like an issue book because Jennifer Castle handles all the tricky relationships between friends and family with such a deft hand. What Happens Now is the first book I read by Ms. Castle, and I'm pretty sure it won't be my last. What Happens Now was out June 7th, 2016. Review copy from Edelweiss.


Traveling Through Time:
Bo believes he can travel through time and that his school, Berkshire Academy, is a school for kids with extraordinary powers. In reality, Bo's school is for teens with emotional and mental disorders. A tragedy at the school and the resulting upheaval causes Bo's tenuous grasp on reality to slip further. I was pretty intrigued by the premise of Beth Revis's new book, and I found it interesting to read from Bo's perspective and see how he made sense of the world around him. Bo's sister also narrates several chapters, and her narration struck me as a way to keep the story grounded. A World Without You is out July 19th, 2016. Review copy from First to Read.


All books reviewed by JoLee.

P.S. More books for Mental Health Matters here and here.

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