Thursday, August 3, 2017

Reading on a Theme: Mental Health Matters

Last year about this time we did our first Mental Health Matters Reading on a Theme, and I'm happy to be bringing this topic back. One thing that I really like about the books in this post is that, in addition to featuring books with characters who are in the thick of things, we also are featuring characters who have their mental health issues fairly well managed and are able to have mental health as just one aspect of their busy, healthy lives.

Locked in the Library:
Due to a carpool mix-up and a sudden snowstorm, Autumn Collins is locked in the library for a weekend. And she's not alone. Dax Miller, who has the reputation of 10 Things I Hate About You's Patrick Verona, is trapped with her. But, like Patrick, Dax is not what he seems, and as Autumn opens up to Dax while she waits for her almost boyfriend Jeff to come rescue her, she begins to realize that she's not being herself with her friends. She certainly hasn't told them about her anxiety disorder and how anxious Jeff's daring antics make her. Kasie West always writes swoony stories, and the Utah setting made this story so much fun for me. By Your Side was out January 2017. Review copy from Edelweiss.

Mourning Her Aunt:
Lottie's Aunt Helen is gone. She left Lottie with a stack of letters and a mystery. The letters push her outside her comfort zone and allow her to hold onto Helen a little longer. The more Lottie follows the instructions left in her aunt's letters, the closer she gets to uncovering Aunt Helen's greatest secret. Everything All at Once is achingly lovely. Katrina Leno beautifully captures the mind and heart of a character with severe anxiety and the added stress the death of a loved one brings. The possibility of magic permeates the novel and I loved the feeling of "well, maybe" that was embedded in the tone. Another win for Katrina Leno. Everything All At Once is out July 25, 2017. Review copy from Edelweiss.

Unhappy in Rehab:
After The Incident, Hunter is depressed and suicidal. His parents send him to Camp Sunshine, a rehab center for troubled teens. Hunter quickly falls in with Corin who is beautiful and confident and seems to actually like awkward Hunter. But she's also kind of scary. This slim volume really delivers. Sunshine is Forever is filled with black humor and raw pain. The way Kyle T. Cowan is able to mix the two is quite impressive. This book also made me think about treatment and how the people in charge of doling out advice are human too. Filled with mistakes, friendships, and new beginnings, Sunshine is Forever is out August 29th, 2017. Review copy from Edelweiss. 

A New Crush: 
Molly is a champion crusher. She has had 26 crushes, all unrequited because all were secret. But when her twin sister, Cassie, meets a new girl and starts a relationship, she all but disappears, and Molly decides it's time to change her strategy. But who should be crush number 27? In The Upside of Unrequited, Becky Albertalli has created a fun story with a great main character. I really liked Molly--I liked that she had anxiety, but it didn't control her; I liked her relationship with her sister (we are a sister blog, after all); and I really liked watching her find her way and learn to take risks. The Upside of Unrequited was out April 11, 2017. Review copy from Edelweiss.

Bad Break-Ups:
After finding her boyfriend and her best friend making out, Everly's anxiety condition worsens. She meets Gabe in her therapist's waiting room, and the two strike up a friendship that has potential to be something more if Everly is ready. What I really liked about Our Broken Pieces was that Everly's experiences with a cheating boyfriend and friendship breakup felt like real high school problems. Gabe is about as good as they come, and his situation was heartbreakingly true to life. Sarah White is a mental health professional and the therapy was treated very authentically. One heads up, this book did get a little steamier than I was expecting. Our Broken Pieces is out August 8, 2017. Review copy from Edelweiss. 

By Your Side, Sunshine is Forever, and Our Broken Pieces reviewed by JoLee.
Everything All At Once and The Upside of Unrequited reviewed by Paige.

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