Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers (#QP2024) Feature Review: Hungry Ghost by Victoria Ying

  • Hungry Ghost
  • By Victoria Ying  
  • Publisher: Roaring Brook Press
  • Imprint: First Second
  • Release date: April 25, 2023 
  • ISBN: 9781250766991

Valerie Chu is the perfect daughter: obedient, quiet, studious, and thin. When tragic circumstances cause her to lose her carefully controlled grip on her life, she must question her relationship with her mother and what future she really wants for herself. Content warning for eating disorders and death of a loved one.

This is a very short, issue-oriented graphic novel that will appeal to many teens. Even if readers have not struggled with an eating disorder, they will likely relate to the pressure that Valerie feels to fit in to other’s expectations of her. Some of the characters could have benefited from deeper development, but the relationship between Valerie and her best friend, Jordan, seemed very real and relatable.

 For more body dysmorphia books consider titles like Lighter Than My Shadow by Katie Green or The Impossible Light by Lily Myers.

-Julianne Novetsky

Other Nominated Titles

January 3, 2023
Release Date: March 7, 2023

The Selected Lists teams read throughout the year in search of the best titles published in their respective categories. Once a book is suggested (either internally or through the title suggestion form), it must pass through a review process to be designated an official nomination.

Each week, the teams feature a review of one of the officially nominated titles. Additional titles to receive this designation are listed as well. At year’s end, the team will curate a final list from all nominated titles and select a Top Ten.

Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers (#QP2024) Feature Review: Nervosa by Haley Gold

  • Nervosa
  • by Hayley Gold
  • Publisher: Street Noise Books
  • Release date: April 4, 2023
  • ISBN: 9781951491246

Hayley Gold gives the inside story of what it is like to suffer from Anorexia Nervosa. She was a teen who was put into a program for her survival. There, she learned tricks to hide weight loss and stave off weight gain, even though counselors were all over her for her own health and safety. A realistic peek at the compulsions someone suffering from Anorexia must battle.

This graphic novel fits the criteria for quick picks because it is easy to read, and the color coordination of the different characters talking, as well as the extreme honesty she writes with, will make this a compelling read for anyone. 

This novel might also appeal to readers who are struggling with body image who might be considering dieting or calorie counting. For read-alikes consider Wintergirls by Laurie Halse-Anderson or Elena Vanishing by Elena Dunkle.

-Michael Fleming

Other Nominated Titles

Release Date: December 6, 2022
Release Date: February 28, 2023

The Selected Lists teams read throughout the year in search of the best titles published in their respective categories. Once a book is suggested (either internally or through the title suggestion form), it must pass through a review process to be designated an official nomination.

Each week, the teams feature a review of one of the officially nominated titles. Additional titles to receive this designation are listed as well. At year’s end, the team will curate a final list from all nominated titles and select a Top Ten.

YA Nonfiction for New Year’s Resolutions!

Nonfiction books for New Year’s resolutions is a great way to pull individuals back into the library every January. Adults aren’t the only ones wanting to better themselves for the new year. Teens can join in on the action as well. Take a look at these YA nonfiction selections for teens to start the year by putting their best foot forward.

Continue reading YA Nonfiction for New Year’s Resolutions!

You’re Not Alone: Mental Health Nonfiction Picks for Teens

As mental health struggles get more time in the spotlight, mental health nonfiction books have been cropping up aimed a variety of demographics. In fact, many options are now available just for teens. This list looks at great resources for those who are struggling with mental health issues or want to help someone that is.

Now, I want to be clear in saying that I was very conscious of readability when pulling these titles. A good book in this area is useless if the writing is akin to banging your head against a wall. It is more important for these books to be engaging than even a standard Y.A. fiction offering that you recommend.

Also, while these selections mostly cater to teens, the high readability makes them good for anyone interested in improving mental health without being insanely bored. Without further ado, let’s get ready to be mentally healthy!

Continue reading You’re Not Alone: Mental Health Nonfiction Picks for Teens

Social Justice and Disability – Evaluating Materials and Media with Characters with Disabilities

When we talk about social justice, one of the most often overlooked populations are people with disabilities. The 2014 Disability Status Report for the United States from Cornell University reported that, “In 2014, the overall percentage (prevalence rate) of people with a disability of all ages in the US was 12.6 percent.” The National Health Institute of Mental Health reported in 2015, “Fully 20 percent—1 in 5—of children ages 13-18 currently have and/or previously had a seriously debilitating mental disorder.” These percentages are not reflected in publishing trends.

Social Justice and Disability - Evaluating Materials and Media with Characters with Disabilities

Representation of any marginalized groups accurately and sympathetically can remove some of the prejudice surrounding them, so including books and media with these characters in our collections is essential. Everyone deserves to see their experiences reflected, as well as studies have shown that reading literary fiction improves empathy. People with disabilities experience some of the highest rates of discrimination and microaggressions. Intersect being disabled with also being a person of color, First/Native Nations, LGBTQ, and/or female and the transgressions can increase. Activist and Vlogger Annie Elainey discusses here in a video Why is Disability Representation So White? #DisabilityTooWhite the many issues that people are experiencing because of lack of representation. (Also, be sure to check out her sources.)

Accurate representation can be a tricky thing, especially if it is not a story or experience that is being written by a person with a similar disability. In January, Lee & Low Books reported results of a 2015 Diversity Baseline Survey about the social makeup of the publishing and book reviewing in North America. In the industry overall, 92% identified as nondisabled, so we can assess that a good portion of the writing, editing, and reviewing books with disabled characters are being done by nondisabled folks. Alaina Leary wrote a great piece for The Establishment titled Why The Publishing Industry Can’t Get Disability Right that is also a must read.

Readers, writers, and advocates of young adult literature should be paying attention to the site Disability in Kidlit. Continue reading Social Justice and Disability – Evaluating Materials and Media with Characters with Disabilities

Readers’ Advisory, Bibliotherapy, and Grief in YA Literature

The benefits of reading go beyond entertainment and into therapeutic tools when focusing on loss and grief in young adult literature. This year, the practice of bibliotherapy celebrates 100 years* in assisting mental health professionals and readers cope with many issues through informed choices about reading material. It is especially relevant to young adult readers in understanding loss and the grief process.

readers' advisory, bibliotherapy, and grief

Teenagers today are said to have higher levels of anxiety and depression and informed readers’ advisory creates an opportunity to help teens by using the comfort and familiarity of reading. However, it is not to be misunderstood or considered as true therapy unless a therapist is involved.   Through readers’ advisory, especially in a school setting, adults can both assist in book recommendations and also listen to teenagers (and possibly notice when teens need to speak to a school counselor).  Just as librarians do not parent or restrict readers, we also do not assume any professional opinion about therapy or mental illness. See this article on the difference between bibliotherapy and readers’ advisory.  The actual practice of bibliotherapy includes a skilled therapist, but adults who are familiar with stories of loss can assist with recommendations.  After all, we already know the interest of our readers (and reading levels) and can offer novels that address grief and coping. Continue reading Readers’ Advisory, Bibliotherapy, and Grief in YA Literature

Reality Scoop: Promoting Mental Wellness with YA Literature

There are no shortages of books for young adults that tackle mental illness; The Hub has focused on books for Mental Health Awareness Month and also written about the trend of suicide and depression in Young Adult literature in just the last year. But today for Reality Scoop, we’re focusing on characters in YA novels who develop coping mechanisms for dealing with depression and anxiety throughout the course of the story.

YALSA realistic fiction column

Fiction According to National Center for Children in Poverty (NCCP), about 20% of teens suffer from mental health issues and nearly 30% have depression before adulthood.  The impact on teens is more than just statistics, it’s the feelings and the emotions that they deal with that hurt the most.  Mental health problems just make things so much harder for teens.  It makes their home life, school and socializing much more difficult than it should be.   Continue reading Reality Scoop: Promoting Mental Wellness with YA Literature

Your Summer Reads Focus on Mental Health Awareness

 mental_health_awareness_month2015May is recognized as Mental Health Awareness Month. In recognition of mental health awareness, I have chosen to highlight some young adult novels published this year that focus on characters dealing with difficult and sensitive topics.  

From relationship struggles to depression and suicide, characters in these stories
 challenged by internal and external conflicts, similar to real life experiences you may be familiar with. You may have felt sympathy for Cadence and her struggling memory in We Were Liars, begged Leonard to put down the gun in Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock, connected with Charlie in The Perks of Being a Wallflower, agonized with Melinda to Speak, set out Looking for Alaska, or unraveled the mystery of the 13 Reasons Why Hannah committed suicide. Teens may experience tough and complex issues, and it shows in the contemporary stories we read.  
Recent Titles about Mental Illness 

What’s next on your reading list? 2015 brings an array of new titles related to mental illness – stories to 
place on your summer booklist (while remembering to pack a box of tissues).

 

all the bright placesAll the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven 
Violet Markey and Theodore Finch have one thing in common: they both want to leave. Violet wants to leave her Indiana town after graduation with the memory of her buried sister. Finch wants to leave this world, imagining the ways he might kill himself. After meeting on the ledge of a bell tower at school, they resolve to discover more about their world. Embracing life instead of death, Finch learns he is more than the freak he’s known as. They both learn to start living instead of dying. Elle Fanning stars in the upcoming motion picture. 

Elena Vanishing
 by Elena Dunkle, Clare B. Dunkle 
Every day, seventeen-year-old Elena is vanishing, as heranxiety and anorexia slowly steal away pieces of herselfAuthor Elena Dunkle bravely shares her story of struggling with a frightening and devastating disease as a teenager in this memoir co-written with her mother, Clare B. Dunkle. In this honest and intense telling, Elena describes what it’s like to live with anorexia and provides insight to a reality true for many.    

The Pause
 by John Larkin
Even as he seemingly has everything – loving family, friends, girlfriend – Declan makes a decision to end his life. Something in his past won’t go away and claws at his consciousness with brutal, buried scrapes, agonizing him for so long. In one moment, one pause before he jumps into an approaching train, Declan sees two versions of his life. One version where his body is destroyed and his loved ones are left behind, and another. One new life. 

Continue reading Your Summer Reads Focus on Mental Health Awareness