Welcome back to Top Ten Tuesday, a book blog tag hosted by The Broke and the Bookish! Today, I'm going into the archives to share my Top Ten YA Novels About Tough Issues. These issues include abuse, sexual assault, and other forms of violence, so be aware that these recommended books may be triggering for sensitive readers.
1) Don't Breathe a Word by Holly Cupala. While most people know about physical and sexual abuse, the issue of emotional abuse gets much less attention. This is despite the fact that emotional abuse is at the core of all abusive relationships and tends to have the greatest long-term impact of any kind of abuse. Holly Cupala's YA contemporary does a great job of portraying the brutality of this form of abuse in a romantic relationship. It also addresses other difficult issues like homelessness and teen runaways.
2) All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kieley. This continues to be my favorite YA novel about race and police brutality, just because it's so emotionally powerful. It is a fantastic book.
3) Speak by Laurie Halse Andersen. This book is a classic in terms of YA lit, oft-recommended because it does such a great job of portraying the devastating effects of sexual assault as well as the bullying that often surrounds it.
4) Burn Baby Burn by Meg Medina. This YA historical fiction addresses a lot of important issues, but the thing that strikes me most is its depiction of juvenile domestic violence, a form of abuse that, like emotional abuse, is not talked about nearly enough.
5) But I Love Him by Amanda Grace. This YA novel makes use of a backwards narrative structure in order to depict an abusive relationship (with aspects of physical, sexual, and emotional abuse), and it brings the point across quite well.
6) The Knife and the Butterfly by Ashley Hope Perez. In this gritty YA novel about gangs, street violence, and more, an unexpected speculative aspect leads to a stunning conclusion.
7) The Way I Used to Be by Amber Smith. This may be the most brutal YA novel I have ever read about rape, and it is powerful. The fact that the rapist is her brother's best friend, who is known and trusted by her whole family, just adds to the devastating effect of the story.
8) How It Went Down by Kekla Magoon. Though All American Boys is my favorite on the subject, this YA contemporary told from a multitude of (sometimes unreliable) perspectives also does a great job at addressing race and wrongful death, along with street violence and other issues.
9) The Fix by Natasha Sinel. This YA contemporary is a beautiful slow burn that gradually cuts through the powerful drug that is denial to reveal a wealth of family dysfunction, including past sexual abuse.
10) Written in the Stars by Aisha Saeed. This YA contemporary novel tells the chilling story of a teenage girl who goes with her family on a trip to their homeland of Pakistan, only to find that they are forcing her into an unwanted marriage.
These are really some tough reads, but if you can handle them, they're worth the effort. Do you have any other books to add to this list? Let me know, and I will be back on Wednesday.
Image via ya-aholic.com.
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