21 YA Books To Read During Mental Health Awareness Month

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May is Mental Health Awareness Month

It is focused on educating the public about and breaking the stigma surrounding mental health conditions. The books listed below are all fictional, but are excellent picks for starting a conversation about mental health.

Content Notes!

I wanted to make note of the different mental health conditions that are part of these books, so that if you’re concerned about potential triggers, you can skip reading about those books. Put your brain first!

Depression and/or suicide: 1-7

Anxiety: 6-8

OCD: 9-12

Agoraphobia: 13

Schizophrenia: 14

Body Image Disorders: 15-17

Bipolar Disorder: 18-21


Henry Holt, Via goodreads.com

Release date: Apr. 28, 2020

What it’s about: Yesterday, Ellie died by suicide. Now, she’s watching, stuck between past and present, trying to reassemble the fractured pieces of her memory. Told in letters — to her trapped mother, her abusive father, to the boy who held her heart, to life itself — A Breath Too Late is a — pardon the pun — breathtaking novel perfect for fans of If I Stay.

Get it from Bookshop for $16.55, Barnes and Noble for $17.99, or from a local bookstore through Indiebound here.


Scholastic, Anna Stork

Release date: Jan. 26, 2016

What it’s about: After Vicky’s suicide attempt, she wakes up in the Lakeview Hospital Mental Disorders ward. On the path to recovery, she grows close to a group of people — Mona, Gabriel, E.M., and Dr. Desai — who accept her, and push her to reconsider her life pre-Lakeview. But when a crisis forces the group apart, she has to discover the strength inside of her on her own.

Get it from Bookshop for $9.19, Barnes and Noble for $9.99, or from a local bookstore through Indiebound here.


Little, Brown, Via goodreads.com

Release date: Nov. 12, 2019

What it’s about: Last summer, Devon’s heart was broken by a beautiful boy named Ashton. But since then, she’s put the pieces back together, and is walking into senior year determined to enjoy every minute. But when Ashton shows up on the first day of school, she’s not sure if she can forgive him. And as the two grow closer again through the school year, Ashton’s mental health situation intensifies, and Devon wonders if loving someone is enough.

Get it from Bookshop for $16.55, Barnes and Noble for $17.99, or from a local bookstore through Indiebound here.


Penguin, Afsoneh Khorram

Release date: Aug. 28, 2018

What it’s about: Three things to know about Darius Kellner: 1. He’s a nerd. 2. He’s got clinical depression. 3. He is about to take his first trip to Iran. While there, he gets to know his ailing grandfather, loving grandmother, and other family members for the very first time. He also meets Sohrab, who becomes his first real friend, and the two bond over soccer and ice cream. Sohrab makes Darius feel like a new version of himself. But as the trip winds down, he has to wonder if he can still be the new Darius without Sohrab by his side.

Get it from Bookshop for $10.11, Barnes and Noble for $9.99, or from a local bookstore through Indiebound here.


Little, Brown, Via goodreads.com

Release date: Mar. 20, 2018

What it’s about: On the day Leigh Chen Sanders kissed her best friend and secret crush, Axel, her mother took her own life. And if Leigh is certain of one thing, it is that when her mother died, she turned into a bird. Traveling to Taiwan to meet her mother’s parents for the first time, she grows determined to find the bird her mother turned into. Along the way, she’ll discover family secrets and attempt to untangle the events of that fateful day.

Get it from Bookshop for $10.11, Barnes and Noble for $10.99, or from a local bookstore through Indiebound here.


Putnam, Amber Hooper

Release date: Apr. 21, 2020

What it’s about: Ridley’s parents own the biggest comic-store chain in the country. Jubilee’s stepmom runs an indie comic shop. When they meet at a comic con prom, they do the very last thing they should do…fall for each other. But as Ridley’s mental health spirals, Jubilee finds her focus torn between her upcoming cello audition and their relationship.

Get it from Bookshop for $16.55, Barnes and Noble for $17.99, or from a local bookstore through Indiebound here.


Little, Brown, Via goodreads.com

Release date: Apr. 14, 2020

What it’s about: When Jocelyn’s father tells her that their family restaurant, A-Plus Chinese Garden, may be going under, she enlists the help of their new employee, Will, to bring it into the 21st century. But with Jocelyn’s depression and Will’s anxiety — plus family prejudices and economic uncertainty — it seems like everything is threatening to keep their budding romance from ever growing into something real.

Get it from Bookshop for $16.55, Barnes and Noble for $17.99, or from a local bookstore through Indiebound here.


Balzer + Bray, Via goodreads.com

Release date: Apr. 11, 2017

What it’s about: Molly Peskin-Suso has a whopping combo of anxiety and 26 unrequited crushes. After all, she’s always known that fat girls have to be careful when it comes to putting yourself out there. But her cynical twin, Cassie, is now smitten with her new girlfriend. Luckily, that girlfriend comes complete with a super cute hipster sidekick. And then there’s Reid, the chubby, nerdy fanboy who she works with… And if you’re a fan of the Love, Simon / Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda crew, you might spy a few familiar faces.

Get it from Bookshop for $10.11, Barnes and Noble for $10.99, or from a local bookstore through Indiebound here.


Soho, Elliot Knight

Release date: Jan. 17, 2017

What it’s about: Despite the fact that Griffin’s first love, Theo, moved to California for school, Griffin always believed they would find a way back to each other. But when Theo dies in a drowning accident, Griffin is distraught. There is one person who could potentially understand what Griffin is going through — Jackson, the boy Theo was dating at the time of his death. Griffin’s journey through love, loss, OCD, and messy emotions, is told in alternating past and present points of view.

Get it from Bookshop for $10.11, Barnes and Noble for $10.99, or from a local bookstore through Indiebound here.


Salaam Reads, Azalia Suhaimi

Release date: Jun. 16, 2020

What it’s about: Melati Ahmad, a Malaysian 16-year-old, has OCD, but doesn’t have the words for it. Instead, she believes there is a djinn inside her, and unless she adheres to a ritual of counting and tapping, she’s threatened with images of her mother’s death. In May of 1969, racial tensions in Kuala Lumpur boil over into riots between the Chinese and the Malays, and Melati is separated from her mother. Desperate to track down her mom, Melati can only rely on the strength and courage inside of herself (and a wee bit of help from a Chinese boy named Vincent) to reunite.

Get it from Bookshop for $17.47, Barnes and Noble for $18.99, or from a local bookstore through Indiebound here.


Little, Brown, Christopher Lee Dunbar

Release date: Jun. 16, 2020

What it’s about: Dayna Walsh is attempting to cope with somatic OCD, which manifests as a hyperfocus on things like blinking or breathing — a consequence of being outed as bisexual in her conservative Irish town. Her focus on ascending and finally becoming a witch is interrupted by the arrival of another coven, one that supposedly has a history with black magic. Meiner King is the bewitchingly frustrating granddaughter of their coven leader. When a witch turns up murdered with the symbols of an infamous serial killer who was never caught, Dayna and Meiner find themselves at the center of a web of witches and gods.

Get it from Bookshop for $17.47, Barnes and Noble for $18.99, or from a local bookstore through Indiebound here.


Running Press, Via goodreads.com

Release date: Mar. 24, 2020

What it’s about: Both Len and Sage need college scholarships, but they’re facing a few obstacles. Len, a photographer, is worried she’s losing her mind when her work stagnates due to a past that is haunting her. Saga, a volleyball star, is trying to find a way around her sudden medical disqualification. The two develop an unlikely friendship after a chance encounter, but both are keeping secrets that could cost them everything.

Get it from Bookshop for $16.55, Barnes and Noble for $17.99, or from a local bookstore through Indiebound here.


Penguin, Via johncoreywhaley.com

Release date: May. 10, 2016

What it’s about: Solomon hasn’t left his house in three years because of his agoraphobia. So when Lisa, an ambitious classmate determined to get into a top psychology program, learns about him, she decides to befriend him, «cure» him, and use the experience in her college application. But when her experiment leads to real friendship between her, Solomon, and her boyfriend, Clark, the line between truth and lie gets even more murky.

Get it from Bookshop for $10.99, Barnes and Noble for $10.99, or from a local bookstore through Indiebound here.


HarperCollins, Gaby Gerster

Release date: Apr. 21, 2015

What it’s about: Caden Bosch is on a ship headed to Challenger Deep, the southern part of the Marianas Trench which is the deepest point on earth. Caden Bosch is acting oddly, and his friends at high school have begun to notice. He’s spending his days walking for miles, and only pretended to join the school track team. Caden’s journey with schizophrenia won Neal Shusterman the National Book Award.

Get it from Bookshop for $9.19, Barnes and Noble for $9.89, or from a local bookstore through Indiebound here.


HarperTeen, Jalil Olmedo

Release date: Feb. 11, 2020

What it’s about: After a video of David being knocked down by a bully goes viral, he vows to use the summer to bulk up. Soon after junior year ends, he’s spending all his time at a nearby gym full of bodybuilders. But as he pursues the «ideal body» at any cost — determined to wow everyone when senior year rolls around in the fall — he’ll have to realize that his pursuit could cost him everything.

Get it from Bookshop for $16.55, Barnes and Noble for $16.99, or from a local bookstore through Indiebound here.


HarperTeen, Kalyaní-Aindrí Sánchez

Release date: Jul. 11, 2017

What it’s about: Matt has come to a discovery: The less he eats, the clearer his mind is — and he needs a clear head to find out how a band of bullies drove away his sister, Maya. He also seems to be developing mysterious abilities — to see things he shouldn’t see, to see the thoughts in people’s heads. And all he needs to do is keep the hunger at bay.

Get it from Bookshop for $9.19, Barnes and Noble for $9.99, or from a local bookstore through Indiebound here.


Macmillan, Franck Goldberg

Release date: Feb. 18, 2020

What it’s about: Zoey and Hank (short for Hannah) met in elementary school and have been inseparable ever since. When Zoe’s parents divorce, she begins to sink under the weight of her broken family, and develops an eating disorder. Told partially in letters from Zoe’s point of view, and mostly in narrative from Hank’s, Hank attempts to help Zoe get better before it is too late.

Get it from Bookshop for $16.55, Barnes and Noble for $17.99, or from a local bookstore through Indiebound here.


Greenwillow, Via goodreads.com

Release date: Sep. 25, 2018

What it’s about: Jetta’s family are shadow players, a traveling troupe who are renowned for their puppets that seem to move without string or stick. But the truth is that Jetta is able to see the souls of the recently departed — and bind them to the puppets with her blood, a practice outlawed since their country was conquered by colonizers. Her skill, while secret, is her family’s only hope to earn a spot on the ship to Aquitan, where rumor has it the Mad King has a spring that cures his ills.

Get it from Bookshop for $10.11, Barnes and Noble for $10.99, or from a local bookstore through Indiebound here.


Bloomsbury, Via goodreads.com

Release date: Apr. 5, 2016

What it’s about: After the death of Jonah’s father, and with his mother in a deep bout of depression, Jonah and his five siblings are trying to keep up their home and their dad’s restaurant. When Vivi Alexander rolls into town at the start of summer, she slides seamlessly into his household, winning over all the siblings. But it’s not long before her bipolar disorder becomes unwieldy, and Jonah might have to pick up even more pieces.

Get it from Bookshop for $10.11, Barnes and Noble for $9.99, or from a local bookstore through Indiebound here.


Little, Brown, Via goodreads.com

Release date: Aug. 8, 2017

What it’s about: Suzette is settling back into her life in LA after attending boarding school in New England. LA is where her friends and family are; it’s where her crush, Emil, is; and her stepbrother, Lionel, who has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, needs her help. Not long after Lionel and Suzette find themselves falling for the same girl, Lionel’s disorder begins to take over his life.

Get it from Bookshop for $10.11, Barnes and Noble for $10.99, or from a local bookstore through Indiebound here.


Simon Pulse, Peter Jolly Northpix

Release date: Mar. 10, 2020

What it’s about: After a huge fight with her parents who run a famous circus in Las Vegas, Harley runs off and joins the rival traveling circus, Maison du Mystère. With dreams of becoming a trapeze artist, she is thrown into a world where she learns the value of passion and collaboration. But she has to come to terms with the devastation she left in her wake in order to follow her dreams.

Get it from Bookshop for $18.39, Barnes and Noble for $17.99, or from a local bookstore through Indiebound here.






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