Watching the news seems to have become more depressing and disheartening than ever. Things are happening that most adults are having trouble fully understanding and coping with on a daily basis. I think our young adults are especially having trouble not only understanding the events we see on the news, but trying to reconcile their still forming personal views with the world around them and the views of those with whom they have the most contact. I think it is important for parents and teachers to stand up for and with the next generation and help them understand and cope with current events and the violence, injustice, and conflicts that seem all too common today.
Here are some novels for young adults that offer multiple points of view and insights into some of the hardest situations our young people are facing in the real world today. Some of the topics handled by these books include school shootings, suicide, drug abuse, racism, and rape. None of these are light, feel-good reads, and not all of them are new. However, one or more of them might help a teen or adult have more understanding of the problems that I wish were completely unthinkable rather than news headlines or tabloid sensations.
Violent Ends: a Novel in Seventeen Points of View
In a one-of-a-kind collaboration, 17 of the most recognized YA writers come together to share the viewpoints of a group of students who are affected by a school shooting.
All American Boys by Jason Reynolds
When sixteen-year-old Rashad is mistakenly accused of stealing, classmate Quinn witnesses his brutal beating at the hands of a police officer who happens to be the older brother of his best friend. Told through Rashad and Quinn’s alternating viewpoints.
Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
Melinda Sordino finds herself an outcast at her high school for calling the cops on an end of summer party, and, although she finds comfort in her art class, she still holds a terrible secret.
Little Peach by Peg Kern
Hospitalized in Brooklyn, New York, fourteen-year-old Michelle recalls being raised in Philadelphia by a loving grandfather and drug-addicted mother before running away and getting lured into prostitution.
Hate List by Jennifer Brown
After her boyfriend goes on a shooting rampage at school, Valerie is implicated because of her involvement in writing the list of names and so now must come to terms with what has happened, her feelings for the boy she once loved, and the part she played that resulted in such tragic events.
The Rules of Survival by Nancy Werlin
Seventeen-year-old Matthew recounts his attempts, starting at a young age, to free himself and his sisters from the grip of their emotionally and physically abusive mother.
There are many books that do a fantastic job of taking extremely difficult subjects and making the characters dealing with them realistic and relatable for readers. More realistic fiction of these tough topics that I would recommend include; Hold Still by Nina Labour, Out of Nowhere by Maria Padian, My Book of Life by Angel by Martine Levitt, Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher, Diamonds in the Shadow by Caroline B. Cooney, Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A. S. King, We Were Here by Matt de la Peña, What Happens Next by Colleen Clayton, Beneath a Meth Moon by Jacqueline Woodson, The Beast or Monster by Walter Dean Myers, By The Time You Read This, I’ll Be Dead by Julie Ann Peters, Tricks by Ellen Hopkins, Ana’s Story: a Journey of Hope by Jenna Bush, and Go Ask Alice by Anonymous.