This week’s Top Ten Tuesday, as hosted by the ladies at The Broke and The Bookish, is Top Ten Books Tacking Tough Issues. In preparing for it I realized something: I don’t read a ton of issue books because they make me stressed and sad and all torn up inside. I really, really prefer happy books. So while I do read some issue books, you’ll notice some big ones like Speak or Thirteen Reasons Why missing from my list. It’s not that I don’t think these will be amazing reads, it’s that I know they’ll delve deeply into issues that will break my heart, so I intentionally avoid them.
So humor me here with my list (in nor particular order). Most of these aren’t as much tried and true “issue books” as they are realistic stories that touch on difficult subjects, some deeply and some lightly.
1. The Mockingbirds by Daisy Whitney- A story not only about date rape but about vigilante justice. Totally inspiring.
2. Sweethearts by Sara Zarr- OMG I love this book, but the child abuse and neglect in it, though it is not terribly detailed, is painful.
3. Story of a Girl– Sara Zarr (again!)- This one is so good. It’s about Deanna, who was caught by her father having sex with her older brother’s friend when she was just thirteen. Forever labeled as “that girl”, she has to come to grips with who she is, with how others—especially her father—see her, and with forgiveness.
4. Not That Kind of Girl by Siobhan Vivian- Excellent look at female roles and how quick we are to label people.
5. Just Listen by Sarah Dessen- This touched on the difficulties and fears experienced by the family of a girl suffering from an eating disorder. Though it’s not the main storyline, I thought Dessen did such a good job here.
6. The Sky is Everywhereby Jandy Nelson- Such a realistic picture of loss and the natural progression we go through as we begin to heal.
7. By the Time You Read This I’ll Be Dead by Julie Anne Peters- Very melancholy and painful, but it seemed to me to be a vivid portrayal of bullying and suicide.
8. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee- Are you sick of me putting it on every list? I’m sorry but it’s just that good. This one deals with racism and asks what it costs to stand up for the truth.
9. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou- This autobiography deals with racism, abuse and poverty. It is sad to know the pain this beloved writer endured and yet, it’s so easy to see how it made her words that much more beautiful.
10. Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler- This isn’t a typical “issue book” but it beautifully explores grieving, first love, peer pressure and the dynamics of best friends.