BOOKS IN WHICH THERAPY PLAYS A SIGNIFICANT ROLE

Posted to YALSA-BK 2015

All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven. When Theodore Finch and Violet Markey meet on the ledge of the bell tower at school--both teetering on the edge--it's the beginning of an unlikely relationship, a journey to discover the 'natural wonders' of the state of Indiana, and two teens' desperate desire to heal and save one another" (Karen says: ‘In All the Bright Places, the therapy is not the main focus of the story, and it is ultimately unsuccessful, and that is part of the point--that mental health issues carry a stigma so that people are likely to avoid therapy and that can have negative consequences.’)
America by E.R.Frank. (publisher out of stock indefinitely) America is a 15-year-old boy who's admitted to a residential treatment program under the care of Dr. B., who nudges America into revealing his troubled past.
Anastasia, Ask Your Analyst by Lois Lowry. Anastasia's seventh-grade science project becomes almost more than she can handle, but brother Sam, age three, and a bust of Freud nobly aid her.
And We Stay by Jenny Hubbard. Sent to an Amherst, Massachusetts, boarding school after her ex-boyfriend shoots himself, seventeen-year-old Emily expresses herself through poetry as she relives their relationship, copes with her guilt, and begins to heal.

Barrier by Patrick Jones. When Jessica is diagnosed with social anxiety disorder, she finally understands why her best friend is her dog and why she breaks out in a sweat whenever she interacts with others. She hopes a fresh start at Rondo Alternative High will help. Joining the manga club seems like a good move -- until her fellow club members decide to attend the annual Manga convention. Can she overcome her fear and make some real friends?

The Bell Jar, by Sylvia Plath. This extraordinary work--echoing Plath's own experiences as a rising writer/editor in the early 1950s--chronicles the nervous breakdown of Esther Greenwood: brilliant, beautiful, enormously talented, successful, but slowly going under, and maybe for the last time.
Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer. Jam Gallahue, fifteen, unable to cope with the loss of her boyfriend Reeve, is sent to a therapeutic boarding school in Vermont, where a journal-writing assignment for an exclusive, mysterious English class transports her to the magical realm of Belzhar, where she and Reeve can be together.
The Boyfriend List (and subsequent books in the series) by E. Lockhart. A Seattle fifteen-year-old explains some of the reasons for her recent panic attacks, including breaking up with her boyfriend, losing all her girlfriends, tensions between her performance-artist mother and her father, and more.
Breathing Underwater by Alex Flinn. Nick has never spoken of his father's violent temper, but when Nick meets Caitlin, everything changes. This critically acclaimed first novel offers an honest and fresh look into the mind of the abused--and abuser.
The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger. Holden Caulfield narrates the story of a couple of days in his sixteen-year-old life, just after he's been expelled from prep school.

Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman. Caden Bosch is on a ship that's headed for the deepest point on Earth: Challenger Deep, the southern part of the Marianas Trench. Caden Bosch is a brilliant high school student whose friends are starting to notice his odd behavior. Caden Bosch is designated the ship's artist in residence to document the journey with images. Caden Bosch pretends to join the school track team but spends his days walking for miles, absorbed by the thoughts in his head. Caden Bosch is split between his allegiance to the captain and the allure of mutiny. Caden Bosch is torn. (Vicky says: It’s about a boy with schizophrenia. The book is based on the author's son's experiences and is illustrated with drawings by his son. It's really, really powerful. It's more about what it's like to have schizophrenia and not know what is real, so therapy is not the main part of the story. Amazing book!)
A Dance for Three by Louise Plummer (publisher out of stock indefinitely) When she finds out she's pregnant at age 15, Hannah Ziebarth believes she will be all right. She will start a family with Milo, and the three of them will live happily ever after. Then reality hits hard. Hannah's powerful story is told from three varied perspectives in this tale of loss, recovery, and self-discovery.
Don't Touch by Rachel Wilson. Sixteen-year-old Caddie struggles with OCD, anxiety, and a powerful fear of touching another person's skin, which threatens her dreams of being an actress—until the boy playing Hamlet opposite her Ophelia in their school's drama production gives her a reason to overcome her fears.

Dr. Bird's Advice for Sad Poets by Evan Roskos. A16-year-old boy attempts to save himself by writing poems, hugging trees, and figuring out what it takes to be a good brother. James experiences the highs and lows of depression as he tries to figure out how it's possible to survive, even when everyone else seems to be doing all they can to make a kid feel crazy.
Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone. Consumed by a stream of dark thoughts and worries that she can't turn off, a girl coping with Purely-Obsessional OCD learns to accept herself and take control of her life through her experiences in poetry club.
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. Sixteen-year-old Hazel, a stage IV thyroid cancer patient, had accepted her terminal diagnosis until a chance meeting with a boy at cancer support group forces her to reexamine her perspective on love, loss, and life. (Rosanne says: The Fault in Our Stars begins with cancer patients in group therapy but the therapy is not the focus of the book.)
Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella. An anxiety disorder disrupts fourteen-year-old Audrey s daily life. She has been making slow but steady progress with Dr. Sarah, but when Audrey meets Linus, her brother’s gaming teammate, she is energized. She connects with him. Audrey can talk through her fears with Linus in a way she s never been able to do with anyone before. As their friendship deepens and her recovery gains momentum, a sweet romantic connection develops, one that helps not just Audrey but also her entire family
Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick. A day in the life of a suicidal teen boy saying good-bye to the four people who matter most to him. The New York Times-bestselling author of "The Silver Linings Playbook" chronicles a riveting day in the life of a suicidal teen boy. "[T]his novel serves as a literary segue for teens, parents and teachers into an open dialogue on sensitive topics. —USA Today
Get Well Soon by Julie Halpern. Drawing from her own experiences in a mental hospital as a teen, Halpern delivers a brave--and brazen--novel that finds humor in the unlikeliest of places.
Hate List by Jennifer Brown. After Valerie Leftman's boyfriend, Nick, opens fire on their school cafeteria, Val is shot trying to stop him, but is implicated in the shootings because of the list she helped create. Now, Val is forced to confront her guilt as she returns to school to complete her senior year. A "School Library Journal" Best Book of the Year. (Susan adds: She has art therapy)
How to be Both by Ali Smith. Booklist (11/15/2014):
*Starred Review* In this era of extolling genre fiction and the joys of story, Smith's latest novel makes a case for experimental, literary fiction. One half of this daring novel is the mostly conventional tale of a precocious teen struggling with the death of her arty, brilliant mother. […] The other half of the novel is narrated by the disembodied voice of a fifteenth-century painter [… who] casts back to her own life disguised as a boy in order to practice her art. Along the way, we learn of a teenager's bratty ways with her smart but sometimes overbearing parents, the power politics of Renaissance Italy, the best places to procure blue pigment, and how everyone, everywhere, must come to terms with the passage of time and the grief of loss. […] (Meagan says: contains some pretty great scenes between a teenage girl--who is grieving the death of her mother--and her therapist)
I am the Cheese by Robert Cormier. A young boy desperately tries to unlock his past, yet knows he must hide those memories if he's to remain alive.
I Never Promised You a Rose Garden by Joanne Greenberg. Enveloped in the dark inner kingdom of her schizophrenia, sixteen-year-old Deborah is haunted by private tormentors that isolate her from the outside world. With the reluctant and fearful consent of her parents, she enters a mental hospital where she will spend the next three years battling to regain her sanity with the help of a gifted psychiatrist. As Deborah struggles toward the possibility of the "normal" life she and her family hope for, the reader is inexorably drawn into her private suffering and deep determination to confront her demons.

Impulse by Ellen Hopkins. From the author of the acclaimed "Crank" comes a gut-wrenching story of teens in crisis. Three lives, three different paths to the same destination: Aspen Springs, a psychiatric hospital for those who have attempted the ultimate act of desperation--suicide.
It’s Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini. The author takes a poignant look at teenage depression in this remarkably moving and authentic picture of the physicality, the despair, and even the hilarity of depression.
Kissing Doorknobs by Terry Spencer Hesser. Tara is a girl obsessed with the notion that if she steps on a crack she'll break her mother's back. Other odd behaviors emerge, and eventually she develops a new ritual of kissing her fingers and touching a doorknob. This funny, compelling, and sensitive story about a teenage girl afflicted with obsessive-compulsive disorder is an ALA Best Book for Young Adults.

Lexapros and Cons by Aaron Karo (publisher out of stock indefinitely) Realizing that his OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder) is out of control, 17-year-old Chuck Taylor, who wants to win back his best friend and impress a new girl at school, tries to break some hardcore habits, face his demons--and get messy.
Love, Inc. / Yvonne Collins & Sandy Rideout (publisher out of stock indefinitely) When three fifteen-year-old Austin, Texas, girls who met in group therapy discover that they are all dating the same boy, they first get revenge and then start a wildly successful relationship consulting business.
Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco X. Stork. Marcelo Sandoval hears music no one else can hear--part of the autism-like impairment no doctor has been able to identify--and he's always attended a special school where his differences have been protected. But the summer after his junior year, his father demands that Marcelo work in his law firm's mailroom in order to experience "the real world." There Marcelo meets Jasmine, his beautiful and surprising coworker, and Wendell, the son of another partner in the firm. He learns about competition and jealousy, anger and desire. But it's a picture he finds in a file -- a picture of a girl with half a face -- that truly connects him with the real world: its suffering, its injustice, and what he can do to fight. (Rosanne says: It’s been a while since I read Marcelo in the Real World but I think I recall him working with a therapist or perhaps it was some other sort of mentor. And I think the conversations were more ethical and philosophical than strictly therapeutic, but I’ll have to re-read that book at my leisure this summer to be sure.)
Noggin, by John Corey Whaley. After dying at age 16, Travis Coates's head was removed and frozen for five years before being attached to another body, and now the old Travis and the new must find a way to coexist while figuring out changes in his relationships.
Nugrl90 (Sadie) by Cheryl Dellasega ; with illustrations by Karina LaPierre. Fifteen-year-old Sadie writes on her blog about having to move to a new high school at the beginning of sophomore year due to her parents' divorce, finding and losing a true love and a best friend, and being in therapy and taking antidepressants.
OCD Love Story by Corey Ann HayduWhen Bea meets Beck, she knows instantly that he's her kind of crazy. Sweet, strong, kinda-messed-up Beck understands her like no one else can. He makes her feel almost normal. He makes her feel like she could fall in love again. But despite her feelings for Beck, Bea can't stop thinking about someone else: a guy who is gorgeous and magnetic...and has no idea Bea even exists. But Bea spends a lot of time watching him. She has a journal full of notes. Some might even say she's obsessed. Bea tells herself she's got it all under control. But this isn't a choice, it's a compulsion. The truth is, she's breaking down...and she might end up breaking her own heart. But things change when the psychotherapist who has been helping her deal with past romantic relationships puts her in a group with Beck -- a group for teens with obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Ordinary People by Judith Guest. The Jarrets are a typical American family. Calvin is a determined, successful provider and Beth an organized, efficient wife. They had two sons, Conrad and Buck, but now they have one. In this memorable, moving novel, Judith Guest takes the reader into their lives to share their misunderstandings, pain...and ultimate healing.
Persistence of Memory by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes. Diagnosed with schizophrenia as a child, sixteen-year-old Erin has spent half of her life in therapy and on drugs, but now must face the possibility of weird things in the real world, including shapeshifting friends and her "alter," a centuries-old vampire.
Queens of All the Earth by Hannah Sternberg. As her freshman classmates move into dorms at Cornell University, Olivia Somerset suffers a nervous breakdown. Big sister Miranda decides the sisters should fly off to Barcelona for some vacation therapy. When a mistake at their Barcelona hostel leaves the Somersets in a large co-ed dorm room, Olivia and Miranda are saved by kindly Mr. Brown and his son Greg. But while Olivia feels an instant connection with brooding Greg Brown, Miranda sides with fellow guest and cocky American travel writer Lenny: The Browns are just plain weird, and must be avoided at all costs. Inspired by E M Forster's classic novel A Room with a View, debut author Hannah Sternberg's Queens of All the Earth is a poetic journey of young love and self-awakening set against the beauty of Catalonia. Adults and teenagers alike will be riveted and moved by this literary coming-of-age novel about the conflicting hearts and minds of two very different sisters.
A Really Awesome Mess by Trish Cook and Brendan Halpin. Two teenagers. Two very bumpy roads taken that lead to Heartland Academy. Justin was just having fun, but when his dad walked in on him with a girl in a very compromising position, Justin's summer took a quick turn for the worse. His parents' divorce put Justin on rocky mental ground, and after a handful of Tylenol lands him in the hospital, he has really hit rock bottom. Emmy never felt like part of her family. She was adopted from China. Her parents and sister tower over her and look like they came out of a Ralph Lauren catalog--and Emmy definitely doesn't. After a scandalous photo of Emmy leads to vicious rumors around school, she threatens the boy who started it all on Facebook. Justin and Emmy arrive at Heartland Academy, a reform school that will force them to deal with their issues, damaged souls with little patience for authority. But along the way they will find a ragtag group of teens who are just as broken, stubborn, and full of sarcasm as themselves. In the end, they might even call each other friends.
The Reluctant Journal of Henry K Larsen by Susin Nielsen-Fernlund. Thirteen-year-old Henry's happy, ordinary life comes to an abrupt halt when his older brother, Jesse, picks up their father's hunting rifle and leaves the house one morning. What follows shatters Henry's family, who are forced to resume their lives in a new city, where no one knows their past. When Henry's therapist suggests he keeps a journal, at first he is resistant. But soon he confides in it at all hours of the day and night.
Risking Love by Doris Orgel. (Out of print) Eighteen-year-old Dinah Moskowitz uses therapy to confront her past relationships, especially those with her divorced parents and with her boyfriend, in order to move forward into the present.
Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen. Sydney's charismatic older brother Peyton has always been the center of attention in the family, but when he's sent to jail, Sydney struggles to find her place at home and the world until she meets the Chathams, including gentle, protective Mac, who makes her feel seen for the first time. (Shirley says: In Sarah Dessen's Saint Anything she decides to go to a psychologist to deal with her family's issues. She doesn't talk about the actual therapy but a friend's mother essentially does the same thing as a therapist through much of the book.)
Say What you Will by Cammie McGovern. This debut novel charts the friendship between a girl with cerebral palsy and a boy with obsessive-compulsion disorder. Each need someone to help them reach out to the world. As they spend time with each other, their friendship eventually grows into something neither expected.
The Scar Boys, by Len Vlahos. Written as a college admission essay, eighteen-year-old Harry Jones recounts a childhood defined by the hideous scars he hid behind, and how forming a band brought self-confidence, friendship, and his first kiss.
A Scary Scene in a Scary Movie by Matt Blackstone. (publisher out of stock indefinitely) Rene, an obsessive-compulsive 14-year-old, fears if he doesn't follow his rituals, he or someone close to him will die a slow and painful death like someone in a scary scene in a scary movie. Gio, Rene's one and only friend, tutors him in the art of playing it cool.
Shark Girl by Kelly Bingham. Fifteen-year-old Jane Arrowood struggles through a physical loss to the start of acceptance in this absorbing, artful novel which is at once honest and insightful, wrenching and redemptive.
Someday This Pain Will Be Useful to You by Peter Cameron. James is eighteen, the child of divorced parents living in Manhattan. Articulate, sensitive, and cynical, he rejects all of the assumptions that govern the adult world around him-including the expectation that he will go to college in the fall. He would prefer to move to an old house in a small town somewhere in the Midwest. Someday This Pain Will Be Useful to You takes place over a few broiling days in the summer of 2003 as James confides in his sympathetic grandmother, stymies his canny therapist, deplores his pretentious sister, and devises a fake online identity in order to pursue his crush on a much older coworker. Nothing turns out how he'd expected.
Stronger Than You Know by Jolene Perry. After 15 years of horrific abuse and neglect by her mother and her mother's boyfriends, Joy struggles to live a normal life with relatives, at school, and with a boyfriend. But just when hope is taking hold, Joy learns she must testify in her mother's trial. Can she face her old life without losing her way in the new one? (Kayla says: Joy’s therapist, Lydia, gives her writing prompts and little challenges to complete each week as she struggles to adapt to her new life and family.)
Suicide Notes: A Novel by Michael Thomas Ford. Fifteen-year-old Jeff wakes up on New Year's Day to find himself in the hospital. Make that the psychiatric ward. With the nutjobs. Never mind the bandages on his wrists, clearly this is all a huge mistake. Jeff is perfectly fine, perfectly normal--not like the other kids in the hospital with him. They've got problems. But a funny thing happens as Jeff's forty-five-day sentence drags on: the crazies start to seem less crazy. . . .
Tales of the Madman Underground by John Barnes. For years, Karl has been part of the Madman Underground--kids forced to attend group therapy during school hours. Karl decides that for his senior year, he is going to get out of the group for good. He is going to act--and be--Normal. But Normal, of course, is relative. A Printz Honor Book.
Tease by Amanda Maciel. Emma Putnam is dead, and it's all Sara Wharton's fault. At least, that's what everyone seems to think. Sara, along with her best friend and three other classmates, has been criminally charged for the bullying and harassment that led to Emma's shocking suicide. Now Sara is the one who's ostracized, already guilty according to her peers, the community, and the media. During the summer before her senior year, in between meetings with lawyers and a court-recommended therapist, Sara is forced to reflect on the events that brought her to this moment--and ultimately consider her role in an undeniable tragedy. And she'll have to find a way to move forward, even when it feels like her own life is over. In this […] debut novel inspired by real-life events, Amanda Maciel weaves a narrative of high school life as complex and heartbreaking as it is familiar: a story of everyday jealousies and resentments, misunderstandings and desires.
Tell Me Again How a Crush Should Feel by Sara Farizan. Leila has made it most of the way through Armstead Academy without having a crush on anyone, which is something of a relief. As an Iranian American, she's different enough; if word got out that she liked girls, life would be twice as hard. But when beautiful new girl Saskia shows up, Leila starts to take risks she never thought she would, especially when it looks as if the attraction between them is mutual. Struggling to sort out her growing feelings and Saskia's confusing signals, Leila confides in her old friend, Lisa, and grows closer to her fellow drama tech-crew members, especially Tomas, whose comments about his own sexuality are frank, funny, wise, and sometimes painful. Gradually, Leila begins to see that almost all her classmates are more complicated than they first appear to be, and many are keeping fascinating secrets of their own. (Nic says: …a prominent supporting character […] has a good experience with therapy after the death of her brother.)
Then Again, Maybe I Won't by Judy Blume. There is a lot going on in his life that thirteen-year-old Tony Miglione does not really understand--like why his parents suddenly have money enough to buy a house on Long Island, why his mother has changed, why his rich friend Joel shoplifts, why he is obsessed with Joel's sixteen-year-old sister, and why he is having terrible stomach pains.
Treasure map of boys: Noel, Jackson, Finn, Hutch, Gideon--and me, Ruby Oliver by E. Lockhart. Lockhart offers a hilarious look at the trials of being a teenager in her third Ruby Oliver novel. Ruby struggles to secure some sort of mental health, to understand what constitutes a real friendship, and--if such a thing exists--to find true love.

The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B, by Teresa Toten. Adam not only is trying to understand his OCD while trying to balance his relationship with his divorced parents, but he's also trying to navigate through the issues that teenagers normally face, namely the perils of young love
We Were Liars by E. Lockhart. Spending the summers on her family's private island off the coast of Massachusetts with her cousins and a special boy named Gat, teenaged Cadence struggles to remember what happened during her fifteenth summer.
Whale Talk by Chris Crutcher. A high-school bus provides surprising sanctuary for seven unlikely swim teammates who are, in the words of their coach, "A perennial road team. Mermen without a pond." These invisible kids resonate because of how the author sees them, believes in them, and lets them speak.
Wildlife by Fiona Wood. During a semester in the wilderness, 16-year-old Sib expects the tough outdoor education program and the horrors of dorm life, but friendship drama and an unexpected romance with popular Ben Capaldi? That will take some navigating. Readers are sure to adore this endearing and poignant story of first love, true friendship, and going a little bit wild.
The Year of Secret Assignments by Jaclyn Moriarty. The Ashbury-Brookfield pen pal program is designed to bring together the two rival schools in a spirit of harmony. But what starts out as a simple letter exchange between three boys and three girls soon leads to secret missions, mistaken identities, and an all-out war between the schools. (Johanna says: A character in Jaclyn Moriarty's The Year of Secret Assignments sees a therapist for grief counseling, but it's a bad therapist so that may not be what you're looking for.)
Books in which contributors thought there might be a therapist but weren’t 100% sure:
Gingerbread (and subsequent novels in the series) by Rachel Cohn. Cyd is tossed out of boarding school and returns home to live with her "society wife" mother, stepfather, and half-siblings in San Francisco. After being grounded, Cyd sulks the summer away at home, making the whole household miserable. Unable to deal with her daughter's silent rebellion, Cyd's mother sends her to New York City to visit her biological father--and the visit has unexpected results.
Izzy, Willy-Nilly by Cynthia Voigt. One moment can change a life forever. Fifteen-year-old Izzy has it all -- a loving family, terrific friends, a place on the cheerleading squad. But her comfortable world crumbles when a date with a senior ends in a car crash and she loses her right leg. Suddenly nothing is the same. The simplest tasks become enormous challenges. Her friends don't seem to know how to act around her. Her family is supportive, but they don't really want to deal with how much she's hurting. Then Rosamunde extends a prickly offer of friendship. Rosamunde definitely isn't the kind of girl Izzy would have been friends with in her old life. But Rosamunde may be the only person who can help Izzy face her new one.

Elizabeth Bluemle
Bookseller, The Flying Pig Bookstore www.flyingpigbooks.com
Author www.elizabethbluemle.com
Blogger www.publishersweekly.com/blogs/shelftalker