Diversity Reading Challenge

May is Mental Health Awareness Month: What Books are There for Teens?

May is Mental Health Awareness Month

I thought that since May is Mental Health Awareness month I would share with you a few books for young adults that discuss mental illness, suicide or abuse.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

It’s Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

Impulse Ellen Hopkins

Looking for Alaska John Green

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

Unconventional Librarian

Parents be sure to read these titles along with your kids to encourage discussion. Most kids know someone who has had suicidal thoughts or is struggling with mental illness. These titles will also qualify for the Diversity Reading Challenge.

Books Diversity Reading Challenge

The Obvious Game by Rita Arens

It’s not obvious from the title of The Obvious Game by Rita Arens that there are deep and intense issues discussed within. In a small town in the Midwest, lives our heroine, Diana, a girl who has a tough situation at home. Diana’s mother has cancer and in this small town, everyone knows everyone else’s business, which means that well meaning townspeople ask after Diana’s mother because they care. The problem with this behavior is that Diana can’t get any rest or privacy. She needs a place where she can get a break from the stress of a sick mother at home.

Diana, for some unknown reason, thinks that she is chubby and decides to lose weight. So this is how she processes stress. Her dysmorphic view of her body causes her to stop eating, exercise too much and hide her problem. Diana is suffering from anorexia.

What’s important about this story is that Diana seemingly has everything going for her: she has a boyfriend, she’s friends with the popular girl (even though this girl is annoying) and leads a fairly normal life outside of her home. There should be no reason why she starves herself to death, right?

Wrong. I love that our author brings this disease to light. Mental illnesses can strike anyone in any socio- economic background. I’m amazed that in this day and age we still have kids who are afraid to discuss such taboo topics and are therefore not getting help. Diana cannot help the way she thinks. There’s something going on in her brain that makes her see herself differently than others see her or themselves.  As she tells a doctor when she finally gets treatment: the rules are different for me.

I hope that others will read this important book and be on the look out  for teens (boys and girls) in their lives who seem to be too thin or have strange eating habits and encourage them to get help.  I used to be a teen who had an eating problem. I needed to control things in my life and not eating was the only thing that I could control. It’s a difficult cycle to break. If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder you can go to National Eating Disorders Association’s website for resources. The also have a helpline to call: (800) 931-2237.

Please get help. You can beat this. I did it.  You can too.


Bibliographies, Information, General Lists

5 YA Titles for Teens Containing Tough Mental Issues

5 YA Titles for Teens Containing
Tough Mental Issues

We all know kids want to read books about people like them. That is also true when kids are suffering or looking for answers. Following are books released this year that cover topics like mental illness and other tough issues. I haven’t read these yet but they look promising.

The First Time She Drowned. by Kerry Kletter


Cassie O’Malley has been trying to keep her head above water—literally and metaphorically—since birth. It’s been two and a half years since Cassie’s mother dumped her in a mental institution against her will, and now, at eighteen, Cassie is finally able to reclaim her life and enter the world on her own terms.

But freedom is a poor match against a lifetime of psychological damage. As Cassie plumbs the depths of her new surroundings, the startling truths she uncovers about her own family narrative make it impossible to cut the tethers of a tumultuous past. And when the unhealthy mother-daughter relationship that defined Cassie’s childhood and adolescence threatens to pull her under once again, Cassie must decide: whose version of history is real? And more important, whose life must she save?

This title intrigued me because of the obvious mental illness theme. I wonder how many teens have been in a treatment facility and can relate?

Exit, Pursued by a Bear by EK Johnston


Hermione Winters is captain of her cheerleading team, and in tiny Palermo Heights, this doesn’t mean what you think it means. At PHHS, the cheerleaders don’t cheer for the sports teams; they are the sports team—the pride and joy of a tiny town. The team’s summer training camp is Hermione’s last and marks the beginning of the end of…she’s not sure what. She does know this season could make her a legend. But during a camp party, someone slips something in her drink. And it all goes black.

In every class, there’s a star cheerleader and a pariah pregnant girl. They’re never supposed to be the same person. Hermione struggles to regain the control she’s always had and faces a wrenching decision about how to move on. The assault wasn’t the beginning of Hermione Winter’s story and she’s not going to let it be the end. She won’t be anyone’s cautionary tale.

While it isn’t obvious, this is a story about surviving rape. A story that still needs to be told unfortunately.

Still Life with Tornado by AS King


Actually Sarah is several human beings. At once. And only one of them is sixteen. Her parents insist she’s a gifted artist with a bright future, but now she can’t draw a thing, not even her own hand. Meanwhile, there’s a ten-year-old Sarah with a filthy mouth, a bad sunburn, and a clear memory of the family vacation in Mexico that ruined everything. She’s a ray of sunshine compared to twenty-three-year-old Sarah, who has snazzy highlights and a bad attitude. And then there’s forty-year-old Sarah (makes good queso dip, doesn’t wear a bra, really wants sixteen-year-old Sarah to tell the truth about her art teacher). They’re all wandering Philadelphia—along with a homeless artist allegedly named Earl—and they’re all worried about Sarah’s future.

If you’re familiar with AS King you know her stories start out as one thing and end up as something else. And always there’s a mental health issue at stake.

Highly Illogical Behavior. by John Corey Whaley


Sixteen-year-old Solomon is agoraphobic. He hasn’t left the house in three years, which is fine by him.

Ambitious Lisa desperately wants to get into the second-best psychology program for college (she’s being realistic). But is ambition alone enough to get her in?

Enter Lisa.

Determined to “fix” Sol, Lisa steps into his world, along with her charming boyfriend, Clark, and soon the three form an unexpected bond. But, as Lisa learns more about Sol and he and Clark grow closer and closer, the walls they’ve built around themselves start to collapse and their friendships threaten to do the same.

This kid is agoraphobic. I wonder how many kids today are? This is not a subject to take lightly to laugh at. I hope it does the issue justice.

If I Was Your Girl. by Meredith Russo


Amanda Hardy is the new girl in school in Lambertville, Tennessee. Like any other girl, all she wants is to make friends and fit in. But Amanda is keeping a secret. There’s a reason why she transferred schools for her senior year, and why she’s determined not to get too close to anyone.

And then she meets Grant Everett. Grant is unlike anyone she’s ever met—open, honest, kind—and Amanda can’t help but start to let him into her life. As they spend more time together, she finds herself yearning to share with Grant everything about herself…including her past. But she’s terrified that once she tells Grant the truth, he won’t be able to see past it.

Because the secret that Amanda’s been keeping? It’s that she used to be Andrew.

Gender reassignment is gaining understanding and I think it’s great that books are available to help teens process it.

Have you read any of these books?

2015 Diversity Reading Challenge Books Lists

Three for the Tree

Three for the Tree

Here are three books with female heroines

that your tree will love.

threefortree Collage

The Yearbook by Carol Masciola

Misfit teen Lola Lundy falls asleep in a storage room in her high school library and wakes up to find herself 80 years in the past. The Fall Frolic dance is going full blast in the gym, and there she makes an instant connection with the brainy and provocative Peter Hemmings, class of ’24. His face is familiar, and she realizes she’s seen his senior portrait in a ragged old yearbook in the storage room. By the end of the dance, Lola begins to see a way out of her disastrous Twenty First Century life: She’ll make a new future for herself in the past. But major mental illness lies in Lola’s family background. Has she slipped through a crack in time, or into an elaborate, romantic hallucination based on the contents of an old yearbook?

Who doesn’t love old yearbooks? Time Travel? Count me in!

Half in Love with Death by Emily Ross

It’s the era of peace and love in the 1960s, but nothing is peaceful in Caroline’s life. Since her beautiful older sister disappeared, fifteen-year-old Caroline might as well have disappeared too. She’s invisible to her parents, who can’t stop blaming each other. The police keep following up on leads even Caroline knows are foolish. The only one who seems to care about her is Tony, her sister’s older boyfriend, who soothes Caroline’s desperate heart every time he turns his magical blue eyes on her.

Tony is convinced that the answer to Jess’s disappearance is in California, the land of endless summer, among the runaways and flower children. Come with me, Tony says to Caroline, and we’ll find her together. Tony is so loving, and all he cares about is bringing Jess home. And so Caroline follows, and closes a door behind her that may never open again.

Inspired by a true story. Thriller = Must Read

 Night on Fire by Ronald Kidd

Thirteen-year-old Billie Simms doesn’t think her hometown of Anniston, Alabama, should be segregated, but few of the town’s residents share her opinion. As equality spreads across the country and the Civil Rights Movement gathers momentum, Billie can’t help but feel stuck–and helpless–in a stubborn town too set in its ways to realize that the world is passing it by. So when Billie learns that the Freedom Riders, a group of peace activists riding interstate buses to protest segregation, will be traveling through Anniston on their way to Montgomery, she thinks that maybe change is finally coming and her quiet little town will shed itself of its antiquated views. But what starts as a series of angry grumbles soon turns to brutality as Anniston residents show just how deep their racism runs. The Freedom Riders will resume their ride to Montgomery, and Billie is now faced with a choice: stand idly by in silence or take a stand for what she believes in. Through her own decisions and actions and a few unlikely friendships, Billie is about to come to grips with the deep-seated prejudice of those she once thought she knew, and with her own inherent racism that she didn’t even know she had.

Kids and civil rights? Sign me up!

Three good books for book lovers!

Books Young Adult

The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson

Wow. This is SOME book!
The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson
There is so much going on in this book it’s difficult to know where to start. Our heroine is Hayley and her father is an Iraq war vet. Dad suffers from a MONSTER case of PTSD and isn’t able to follow through with treatment. As a result, poor Hayley’s life is a nightmare. Hayley has had to care for herself and her father in a way that only children of mentally ill or dysfunctional families can understand. The best bit about Hayley is that she has a few friends who try to get close to her. And of course, there’s a boy. Hayley’s been through a lot of crap but she also realizes that she’s not the only one who has a bad family life at home. And this knowledge helps her.
I am at times so angry with Hayley’s dad that I want to jump through the (audio) book and grab that poor kid and get her out of the situation and leave Dad to his own destruction. This is a thought provoking book that will rip your guts out.I can’t say that it’s my fave LHA book but it sure makes you think. LHA knows how to get to the meat of the issue; I’m still recovering from Speak.  LHA needs to hug a puppy or something!
I’m not sure if I should classify this as diversity. The characters are white but the mental illness issues in here are devastating. Have you read this? What did you think?
2015 Diversity Reading Challenge Banned Books

Banned Books Week-Day 2



8.  The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky

The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky

 Click the link for My review . Why this book is on the banned book list every year is beyond mystifying.


7.  The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini

The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini

The Kite Runner is one of those books you need to read more than once to appreciate
the many facets of this beautiful story of two young friends.

This book is always on the list, it seems, for these reasons: Offensive language, unsuited to age group, violence
I dunno.  This book is real world. Again, what age group are you giving this to?

Have you read either of these books? What are your thoughts?  If you’re just now getting around to either, they qualify for the Diversity Challenge also.




#DayOfLight Bringing Depression Out of the Dark

Join Pushing Lovely and me on the #DayOfLight, Wednesday, February 5th. We are taking to social media to bring depression out of the dark.


Friends, listen to me carefully. I’m rarely serious but every once in a while it’s important to be serious; and I’m serious about helping others get rid of depression.  That’s why I’m joining a bunch of lovely ladies to highlight depression and its insidious ways it has to hurt people I love and the devastating effects it has on those around it.

What is Depression?Depression is a common but serious mental illness typically marked by sad or anxious feelings. These feelings tend to linger for periods longer than 2 weeks at a time and interfere with daily activities. Depression does not discriminate based on age, race, gender or sexuality.You are not alone. Depression is often an illness of isolation. People suffer in silence, and frequently feel as if they are alone. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) more than 20 million people in the United States suffer from depression. Join Pushing Lovely as we work together to bring depression out of the dark and declare February 5th, 2014 the #DayOfLight.What is #DayOfLight?#DayOfLight was created to shine a light on depression, and share resources for those who are struggling with the mental illness. Bloggers from all over the country are collaborating on Wednesday, February 5th to flood social media with personal stories about living with depression, and accurate information on managing and living with the mental illness.How Can You Participate?

  • Write a blog post sharing your personal experience of depression and/or share resources to help others. Add the #DayOfLight hashtag in your post title.
  • Watch the #DayOfLight Google Hangout on Wednesday, February 5th at 11 AM EST. Tweet and ask questions. (
  • Participate in the #DayOfLight twitter chat on Wednesday, February 5th at 9 PM EST (follow @PushingLovely@NotoriousSpinks, and @BrandiJeter for more information).
  • Turn your social media avatars black and white on Wednesday, February 5th so we can visually represent all of those affected by depression.
  • Share inspiring tweets, posts, and photos  on social media to encourage those who are suffering with depression to let them know that they are not alone. Use the hashtag #DayOfLight.
  • Need resources? Check out this link:


Know that you’re not alone, friends. Children can also suffer from depression which hurts PammyPam even worse.  Please get help, seek out a friend (like me!), and don’t be ashamed to tell someone you are hurting.  Join us for #DayOfLight on Wednesday.  If you can’t make it Wednesday, give a shout to me or one of my Pushing Lovely friends.

You are not alone.  Whether you want me or not; I’m here for you.

Adult Fiction Take Control of Your TBR Challenge

Take Control of your TBR Pile: Let’s Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson

So, I’m clearing out my TBR Pile and playing with Kimba the Caffeinated Book Reviewer.









I have plans to read many many books, if you read my previous posts about this fun challenge you’ll know this.  REALITY: I’m not doing so hot.  hahhaah. But I did get ONE book read, Let’s Pretend this Never Happened by Jenny Lawson. It’s the biography of The Bloggess. IT IS FUNNY!!!!

An Unconventional Librarian

Here’s me reading it on the train.  Did you know Amtrak has WiFi?

And here’s me taking a picture of it at the bookstore where i work.

An Unconventional Librarian

Oops it’s sideways.  Turn your screen to the right.  Better?

So what can I say about this book? I loved it! It was funny and I felt like if she met me we’d be besties in real life!

How do you not love a book that makes you giggle while you’re riding the train?

You can’t not love it!!