Mental Health Awareness Week 2017 – Reading Recommendations

File_001 (7)Since it’s Mental Health Awareness Week, I thought it would be appropriate to recommend a few books which I think address mental health very well. They’re not all books which are centered around mental health, and they don’t all focus on it greatly, but whether it’s an inspiring paragraph or the whole book, it’s here for a reason.

First, to represent agoraphobia and OCD, it has to be Under Rose-Tainted Skies (Louise Gornall). This book is beautiful, honest, moving and I felt like I related to it a lot more than some other books focusing on the same things. Norah is amazing, strong and very similar to me so that was an immediate click for me. You can read my full review (including the blurb) here: Review.

Also representing OCD, it’s Am I Normal Yet? (Holly Bourne) which is a beautiful story following the life of Evie who suffers from strong OCD and shows her struggles and attempts to be ‘normal’. This so well portrays the mindset of someone who thinks they’re weird and wants to fit in, and I found it very easy to relate to. It’s honest and is one of my favourite reads because of this. You can read my full review (including the blurb) here: Review.

I am fully aware that being transgender isn’t a mental disorder or illness, so please don’t shoot me, but I’m putting If I Was Your Girl (Meredith Russo) in here too. This is because the main character is struggling with her identity and through the bullying and misunderstandings, there are points where the narration displays some quite hurtful thoughts about herself. Because of the bullying in the story, she isn’t thinking right and could be experiencing some variation of depression or anxiety. It’s a very touching, very important story that everyone should read and I do think that it belongs here since it does portray some very negative, self-deprecating thoughts that wouldn’t be there otherwise (without the bullying/misunderstandings) as she’s been essentially taught to think this way. You can read my full review (including the blurb) here: Review.

Representing eating disorders/a distorted body image is Only Ever Yours (Louise O’Neill) and it’s the first book I ever decided to review because of how good it is. I think it’s so realistic in a ‘this would never happen’ kind of way. I can see how the patriarchal control in the story replicates the same manipulation in the real world and it’s done so well that I think everyone should have to read this even if it’s just to inspire you to tell the world to f off. You can read my full review (including the blurb) here: Review.

As representation for anxiety, I’ve put in the entire Girl Online series (Zoe Sugg) because I think (at least for me), it’s very accurate and portrays that inner monologue well. I enjoy the story as well as the issues inside it, as there’s no love triangle and the romantic interest isn’t magically a cure for her mental health problems. It’s realistic, and honestly shows the stages of a panic attack, thoughts caused by anxiety and the missed opportunities it can cause. Just because it’s ghost-written for a vlogger doesn’t make it bad. You can read my full review (including the blurb) of the first book here: Review

This last book is a slight stretch since it isn’t entirely focused on mental health, however I do think that it would help someone going through the same situation. It’s No Virgin (Anne Cassidy) which is about a rape. It’s not explicitly mentioned that the main character is experiencing any mental health issues, however I think that through the narrative, it could be assumed that she’s having a lot of negative thoughts, self-blame and guilt which could so easily become depression or anxiety (among other things). PTSD is a common problem which comes after rape, and it could be argued that that is present in this book. I think it depends how you interpret it and how hard-hitting the subject is for you, but I definitely think that this book should be on this list. You can read my full review (including the blurb) here: Review.

Review: Only Ever Yours (Louise O’Neill)

 

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Title: Only Ever Yours

Author: Louise O’Neill

Publisher: Quercus

Release: Out now!

Genre: Dystopia

Which animal is similar to this book? This book resembles a peacock, in that it’s daring, challenges the ‘normal’ and still is a success. A peacock should be a victim, it should be uncommon and hunted continuously due to its bright colours and huge feathers. In the same way, this book is brave and steps out of most YA books’ comfort zone as it addresses issues so rarely discussed, and in such a blunt and honest way. The story works well and puts across its message in a very clear way, just as a peacock portrays its message clearly to potential mating partners and enemies alike.

The blurb says: frieda and isobel have been best friends their whole lives. Now, aged sixteen and in their final year at the School, they expect to be selected as companions – wives to wealthy and powerful men. The alternative – life as a concubine – is too horrible to contemplate. But as the intensity of the final year takes hold, the pressure to remain perfect becomes almost unbearable. isobel starts to self-destruct , putting her beauty – her only asset – in peril. And then, the boys arrive, eager to choose a bride. frieda must fight for her future – even if it means betraying the only friend, the only love, she has ever known…

The story follows the journey of frieda and isobel (the lack of capital letter is used to symbolise their lack of importance in the world the book is set in) as they go through their last year of education. The goal is to be beautiful and appealing to men so that they can marry the richest and most important men. The school has a ratings system, in which the girls compete against each other in terms of appearance and ‘ladylike’ behaviours.

The book perfectly amplifies the pressure put on young girls in our society to be good wives and to be the perfect kind of beautiful. It puts it in a setting which seems implausible and absurd, but at the same time, isn’t far off what girls around the world experience everyday. It explores feminism and the idea of girls enforcing the idea that girls need to be beautiful, and that they can make it more of a competition.

It deals with issues such as bullying, eating disorders, self-hatred as well as the social pressures within a group of girls. The book is emotional, complex but also very enlightening and forces the reader to think about society in a very different and blunt20160804_163103 way.

Overall, this was definitely in my top favourite books I’ve ever read, so I’d give it 10 out of 10 pawprints!