Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday Rewind: Tough Subjects 5/28

Image from The Broke and the Bookish

A year ago I wrote a post about why I, as an adult, read YA (young adult literature).  I summed it up with one word - hope.  Even in the face of the most tragic of circumstances, most YA characters display a resilience and desire to move forward and overcome the obstacles in front of them.  Today, I would like to explore another reason why I read (and teach!) YA literature.  The books are relatable.  They help readers identify problem areas in their own lives and explore ways to overcome them.  They show readers they are not alone, and most importantly, they can teach readers valuable lessons about empathy, tolerance, and respect as Christine at Buckling Bookshelves recently reminded me.  Unfortunately, many of these books are challenged and banned every year because they dare to represent unflinchingly a typical teenage experience.  They hold a magnifying glass up to life today, and what they find is not always pretty, but their focus never wavers until they can locate the good on the other side.  I greatly admire YA authors because I think it takes a lot of courage to do what they do, to say this subject may be uncomfortable but it's important to write about, it's worth starting a conversation.  So for this Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, I've chosen to highlight those books and authors that make the case for YA literature better than I ever could.


Speak and Wintergirls Laurie Halse Anderson
Issues: acquaintance rape, self-mutilation, suicide, grief, eating disorders
Lessons learned: speak up when you or a friend are harming yourself or others, seek help from trusted sources

The Perks of Being a Wallflower Stephen Chobosky
Issues: depression, suicide, sexual abuse, drug/alcohol abuse, homosexuality
Lessons learned: talk it out, find friends you can trust

13 Reasons Why Jay Asher
Issues: suicide, bullying
Lessons learned: empathy

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings Maya Angelou
*not technically YA but has been adopted by the YA culture
Issues: racism, poverty, rape
Lessons learned: tolerance, perseverance, determination, strength of character

Hold Still Nina LaCour
Issues: suicide, depression, grief
Lessons learned: pay attention, don't internalize guilt over external circumstances, acceptance

Stargirl Jerry Spinelli
Issues: peer pressure, conformity
Lessons learned: be secure in who you are

Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes Chris Crutcher
Issues: bullying, abuse
Lessons learned: power of friendship
*Bonus Points: Chris Crutcher writes some of the most realistic teen dialogue I've ever read.

To Kill a Mockingbird Harper Lee
*not technically YA but has been adopted by the YA culture
Issues: racism, rape, growing pains
Lessons learned: tolerance, tact, empathy, strength of character, stand up for what you believe in

Looking for Alaska and The Fault in Our Stars John Green
Issues: suicide, bullying, grief, terminal illness
Lessons learned: sanctity of life and friendship


Ellen Hopkins
Issues: you name it, she's written about it
Lessons learned: acceptance, tolerance, destructive behavior is not the answer to life's problems, don't give in to peer pressure, appreciate the supportive family members you have

Sarah Dessen
Issues: grief (specifically death of a parent), eating disorder, sibling rivalry, teen pregnancy, abusive relationships
Lessons learned: talk it out, no one and nothing is worth risking your physical and mental health for, know who you are and cultivate that girl, don't be afraid to take risks

Judy Blume
Issues: puberty, growing pains, sexuality, grief
Lessons learned: the original girl power, there is nothing wrong with bodily changes/hormones/growing up, know how to and who with you can explore those changes safely


  1. LOVE TKaM! I am so glad I read this one as an adolescent and as an adult! Great list!

    New follower via GFC! :)
    My TTT

  2. I have got to read more of these books, since I do enjoy YA lit and books about tough subjects.

    And thanks for the shout out :)

    1. There are plenty of them out there!

      P.S. I'm all about giving credit where credit is due!