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Tough Topics for Young Adults And a List of Books to Help Understand

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What are “Tough Topics” for young adults? Challenging topics that occur during young adulthood and can be hard to discuss and hard to understand

Tough Topics include: abortion, pregnancy, abuse, dating, sex, self-harm, bullying, addiction, cancer, grief, mental health and illness, eating disorders, racism, sexual identity and orientation, rape, suicide, homelessness, incarceration, and more

Books about tough topics can help you understand others experiences and can also help by showing your own experience mirrored in fictional characters. In writing realistic fiction about tough topics, authors often interview people who have persevered or authors themselves have experienced trauma. 

Check out this list of ten fiction books dealing with tough topics

  1. Girl in Pieces by Kathleen Glasgow. A deeply moving portrait of one girl's journey from self-harm to self-acceptance.


  1. Bitter End by Jennifer Brown. The reader is immediately pulled onto the rollercoaster ride of an abusive relationship.


  1. Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson. The story focuses on a girl who suffers from anorexia and self harm.


  1. Elena Vanishing: A Memoir by Clare B. Dunkle & Elena Dunkle. A fascinating and intimate look at a deadly disease, and a must read for anyone who knows someone suffering from an eating disorder.


  1. What If It’s Us by Becky Albertalli & Adam Silvera. A hilarious and insightful exploration of the nuances of sexuality, identity, and friendship.


  1. It’s Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini. Contemplating suicide, depressed teenager Craig Gilner seeks help at a local hospital.


  1. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell. A remarkable piece of realistic fiction that studies the relationship between sisters and the reality of mental illness.


  1. Hey, Kiddo by Jarrett Krosoczka. A graphic novel about growing up in a family grappling with addiction, and finding the art that helps you survive.


  1. Darius the Great is Not Okay by Adib Khorram. About Darius's journey to feeling comfortable in his own skin.


  1.  Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson. It chronicles the struggles of thirteen-year-old Melinda Sordino after she is a raped at a party.


Also, try some of these resources at your library: