Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten YA Inspirational Books That Tackle Tough Issues

Today marks the 10th anniversary of Top Ten Tuesday! For this post, we are supposed to "pick a past TTT topic you wish you’d done, but didn’t get a chance to do." If you want to participate, click here. 

I have chosen to do a post from July 26, 2011 tackling tough issues, from back when Top Ten Tuesday was still managed by The Broke and the Bookish. Books that tackle tough issues (such as abuse or racism) inspire us to become better people help society move forward into progressiveness and kindness. This list was VERY difficult to choose! You can see all the inspirational books I've reviewed here. Due to how much I love all of these books, this list is only slightly in order.

1. Anger is a Gift by Mark Oshiro
Anger is a Gift deals with police brutality and racism in schools. This book is angering, and it is heartbreaking to see the police outright attack the students with no probable cause, but also inspiring, proving that anger and sadness can be turned into a force for change. Anger is a Gift is a true wake-up call, and is very relatable in our current political climate.

2. Heroine by Mindy McGinnis
 This book deals with the issue of the opioid crisis, and proves how easy it is to fall victim to addiction. Contrary to some people's opinions, addiction is a disease and not entirely in the person's control. Mickey becomes trapped in a downward spiral after being prescribed opioids after a car accident. Heroine is one of the most raw, honest stories I have ever read.
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3. Crazy by Han Nolan  
Crazy is one of the most intense, emotional books I have read regarding mental illness. Jason is drowning his father's mental illness and the piles of unpaid medical bills before his mother died. When his father loses his grip on reality and succumbs to his hallucinations, Jason becomes the father in their (literally and figuratively) deteriorating house. After joining a support group at school, he discovers friendships that will inspire him to finally have the strength to get help for his father.

4. Don't You Dare Read This, Mrs. Dunphrey by Margaret Peterson Haddix
In 16-year-old Trish's English class, her teacher requires all students to keep a journal, but promises not to read anything marked "Do Not Read". When Trish's mother runs off and leaves her to care for her little brother, she vents in this journal. This book contains subjects of child abuse, neglect, mental illness, and death. It teaches about asking for help and the difference between right and wrong.

5. Gym Candy by Carl Deuker
Gym Candy is a YA realistic fiction book that exposes the dangers of steroids and the mental/physical consequences of playing football.The immense pressure involved in the popularity and idolization of the game leads to body image issues and a desperation to be accepted by any means possible. This was an extremely intense book that I know will move others to change themselves and their beliefs. 

6. Words on Bathroom Walls by Julia Walton
Adam has schizophrenia; he sees and hears things that aren't there. After making it into a new drug trial that helps him ignore his visions, he starts at a new private school and falls in love with Maya. But when the drug fails, Adam becomes afraid that she will not love him anymore. Many become angry and afraid at what they don't understand. It is also interesting to note that Adam is atheist, ironically attending a catholic school. 

7. The First Time She Drowned by Kerry Kletter
The First Time She Drowned is one of my favorite books. Two and a half years ago, Cassie's mother dumped her in a mental hospital to get rid of her, and spun lies to make sure they kept her. Now at 18, Cassie is eager to leave and go to college. But the mental and emotional damage done to her by her mother will continue to haunt her, and secrets she has kept to herself for years and years threaten to consume her once again. This book deals with abuse, sexual assault, and mental illness.

8. Here to Stay by Sara Farizan
Here to Stay tackles bullying, racism, homophobia, and Islamophobia. I love how Here to Stay proves that even when it seems like the world is against you, there will always be people by your side who will continue to stand up for what's right. Its extremely diverse set of characters in races, religion, and sexual orientation adds to the inspirational tone.

9. Little & Lion by Brandy Colbert
Little & Lion is a YA realistic fiction book about struggling with sexuality and mental illness. Suzette deals with her brother's bipolar disorder while coming to terms with her sexuality. After her brother stops taking his pills, she must find a way to save him before it's too late.Anyone who has a family member or friend who's struggling with an illness needs to read this book. This serves as a guide as to what to do in response to alarming situations.

10. Personal Effects by E.M. Kokie
Personal Effects deals with grief and the difficulty of having a family member in the military. The anger, grief, and betrayal jumped off the pages and stabbed my heart in its core. This is a special read for anyone dealing with loss.


  1. I really need to read Anger Is a Gift sometime.

    My TTT .

  2. Books that deal with tough issues are some of my favorites to read. Thanks for sharing this list. I have not read any of these.

  3. I'll have to add some of the books on your list to my TBR.
    Here's my TTT list.

  4. I used to read "issue books" a lot, but not so much recently -- not for any particular reason, I just tend not to see them as much. It looks like a lot of great ones have popped up in the last 10-15 years to take on current problems.

    Don't You Dare Read This was one of my favorite books in the world in high school, and it still impresses me. I've also read several of Han Nolan's books, but not for a while now, and I hadn't heard of this one. It looks good.


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