All of us here, including yourself, are book people (that would be why you are reading this very blog post)! And one thing book people love more than anything else is seeing themselves represented in the stories we eagerly devour. The power of feeling seen should never be underestimated. Right now, even more so than ever (as many of us have been inside for quite a while), the topic of mental health is on all of our minds. For those of us who have dealt with mental health challenges in the past and/or are still battling them today, it is a comfort to read books where the characters are experiencing similar struggles. If you’ve been searching for a book like that, look no further as we’ve got you covered!
Beautifully handling both important race discussions and mental health stigmas, This Is My Brain in Love, tells the story of Jocelyn Wu, the daughter of two Chinese restaurant owners, and Will Domenici, a half-Nigerian boy who takes a job in the restaurant. Between the adorable love story and all the yummy Chinese food, Will’s anxiety and Jocelyn’s depression are at the forefront. Relatable and complex, this is one you won’t want to miss!
After Leigh lost her mother to suicide, she embarks on a journey Taiwan to meet her maternal grandparents for the very first time. Certain that her mother has been reincarnated as a bird, Leigh expects to find her in Taiwan. But when Leigh arrives, she discovers much more than she ever imagined, in family secrets and her budding relationship with her grandparents. The handling of depression and the way it affects both the one suffering it and all their loved ones is masterfully written and opens up the discussion to the dangers of stigma.
Talented and hard-working, Vân Uóc Phan is both and only child and first-generation Vietnamese Australian, which means her parents have high expectations and great hopes for her future. Attending a prestigious private school in Melbourne on a scholarship, Vân Uóc likes to keep a low profile, watching her crush Billy from afar, and helping to manage her mother’s PTSD, developed after her traumatic immigration experience. When Billy begins to notice Vân Uóc and actually likes her too, they have to contend with the very different backgrounds and experiences they come from. The topic of PTSD may not be the main focus in this magical contemporary romance, but it proves to be an important representation of the nonetheless and one that many can relate to.
Devon, a high school senior and aspiring astrophysicist, has just had her heart broken by Ashton, the boy she fell head-over-heels in love with over the summer. When Ashton shows up on the first day of school, Devon isn’t sure if she can ever forgive him. However, Ashton suffers from depression and Devon feels a certain amount of responsibility to encourage him get the help he needs. The mental health representation in this story feels both highly personal and extremely relatable.
For Alex, OCD is all-consuming and frequently debilitating. Dan, an often angry, bullying classmate, sees Alex as an easy target. When Alex and Dan’s parents force the two of them to spend time with together over winter break, we begin to see that getting to know each other a little better can make all the difference in the world. The portrayal of the OCD experience feels gratifyingly authentic, as does the complexities of handling bullying situations.