Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: books dealing with tough subjects

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Every week the participants post their top ten to a specific topic.

To this week's topic is all about books dealing with difficult subjects like abuse, suicide, grief, or other issues that are personally hard for us.
It was kind of difficult to come up with 10 books for this that I've actualy read. I'm not usually one for 'problem books' because I identify way too much and it drags me down. Also, I realized that I could name quite a few books that have an issue woven into them somewhere but it isn't the main focus. So here are 10 books of varying intensity that I read and enjoyed.

Glenraven_27's books with tough subjects album on Photobucket

The Language of Flowers, by Vanessa Diffenbaugh
This was the first contemporary book I'd read in a looong time. I mainly picked it up because it was set in San Francisco and because the heroine was a foster kid. And there we're also already at one of the issues the book deals with. Victoria is a heroine that is hard to understand at the beginning, but the unfolding tale is wonderful, heartbreaking, and beautifully written. One of the things that happen to her is among my big no-nos when it comes to choosing my reads but it was handled wonderfully here! It's about homelessness, not belonging, grief, mother-daughter relationships, loss, love... and it left me with this feeling of catharsis. I cried, but I felt better at the end.

Pushing The Limits, by Katie McGarry
I know a lot of people would probably classify this book as romance but I think it also handles tough issues like grief (Echo's brother), mental illness, trauma, and the foster system. It makes the characters' pain real. It made me laugh and cry and swoon and get angry. I loved it so much even though emotionally it got heavy at times, for me at least. You can check out my review here.

Girls Love Travis Walker, by Anne Pfeffer
I *just* finished that one and really loved it! Travis is a guy with real-life problems. Having to drop school in order to support himself and his sick mum, the threat of eviction hanging over his head, knowing that the 5 dollars in you pockets are all the money you own in the world... he took quite a heavy fall but I liked how much of a backbone he had, and there were lighthearted scenes to balance things out.

The Breakaway / Pieces, by Michelle Davidson Argyle
I was part of the tour for these two and they had such a huge impact on me! Naomi's mental situation and the way she dealt with her kidnapping (and the aftermath!) were so real to me. I felt with her. I ached and hoped for her. It's also a book about finding your own way though, and about several types of dependent relationships. If you want to know more, check out my review.

Notes from the Blender, by Trish Cook and Brendan Halpin
Notes from the blender is an extremely fun read, but it also deals with issues about patchwork families, grief, guilt, and finding out where you belong. I devoured it in a day. Definitely one of my favorite contemporaries!

Hunger, by Jackie Morse Kessler
This one was personally hard for me to read. It deals with anorexia and bulimia and the physical, emotional, and social consequences that come with it. It's all wrapped up in the paranormal element of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse but the describtion of Lisabeth's situation hit very close to home for me. I really want to read the next books in the series!

Wintergirls, by Laurie Halse Anderson
Same as above, only more extreme. My experiences thankfully never went as far as that of Lia, the heroine, but I still saw more of myself at a certain point in my life in her than I would have liked. This one packs a real punch but it handles the issue really well, in my opinion. If you know someone suffering through the hell of anorexia and want to understand them better, this book might help.

Ultraviolet, by R.J. Anderson
This is eventually a paranormal book but it also deals with mental illness, being committed against one's will, asylums in general, and several kinds of abuse. I was glued to the page and need to read the sequel, Quicksilver, asap!

In the Shadow of Blackbirds, by Cat Winters
This one is set in 1918 during the Spanish Influenza. The description of a city filling up with corpses, the horrors of WWI, the grief of those mourning both the sick and the fallen soldiers of the war, was palpable to me. It also deals with the fear and paranoia of treason, with women's lot in the early 20th century, and with ghosts. Oh, and it's simply brilliant :)

Carrie, by Stephen King
I know many would probably classify this one as horror but for me, it's so much more and else than that. I was 16 when I read it for the first time and I identified with Carrie so much! Like her, I'd been bullied for years on end. I didn't have a religiously crazy mother to deal with like she did, but otherwise she basically got to do what I'd dreamed about quite a few times: revenge. With telekinetic powers.

This is it... I think I got in quite a few different ones. I also have a bunch of books dealing with tough issues on my kindle that I haven't read yet. What do you guys think of my list? Do you know any of the books? I'm also curious about everyone else's picks, so link me up :)


  1. I love Pushing the Limits, even though it hurt at times! I'll have to check out the rest of the books on your list!

    Teresa @ Readers Live A Thousand Lives

  2. Definitely agree with you on Pushing the Limits Carmen. Man, that book had me sobbing.
    And Carrie! I've watched the movie at least five times and the things she had to go through! She's strong though, if I was her on the stage covered in red paint, I would die.
    Awesome list Carmen! :D

    My TTT

  3. Hunger was short, but powerful! I really "enjoyed" it. Carrie is not my favorite SK book, but it definitely left a lasting impression on me.
    The Language of Flowers sounds sad, but it also intrigues me. I may have to check it out some day!

  4. I really liked Ultraviolet. I thought it dealt with its issues so well. I didn't care for the sequel, but that's just me.

    Great list!


  5. I've only read Pushing the Limits, but I'm really interested in reading Ultraviolet and many of the others on your list.

  6. So I kept seeing the Shadow of Blackbirds around and didn't really read a synopsis- but now that I see it's set during the Spanish influenza I'm sold. Definitely need to get this one. Ultraviolet also looks awesome. Great list Carmen!

    Thanks for stopping by my TTT!

    Jessica@Lovin' Los Libros