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YA Shout Outs: Mental Health Awareness Month

Did you know that May is Mental Health Awareness Month? To help celebrate, the Tor Teen Team wanted to shout out some of the books that discuss mental health with care and empathy, and that make us feel seen and understood. Read about our recommendations below!

We’re also hosting a panel called Empathy Over Stigma with Tor Teen authors Lauren Shippen, TJ Klune, and Mark Oshiro to talk about mental health representation in YA next Monday, May 18th at 6 PM ET | 3 PM PT. Click here to register!


Anger Is a Gift by Mark Oshiro

“Mark Oshiro’s award-winning debut, Anger is a Gift, is a powerful novel narratively lead by a queer young black man named Moss Jeffries as he grieves and heals from the wrongful shooting of his father within his community at the hands of the police. Oshiro paints an honest and vulnerable portrait of a marginalized teenager struggling with his anxiety and anger as racial tensions within his community reach a boiling point. Following Moss throughout the novel as he experiences frequent panic attacks and seeks help through therapy gives readers an intimate look at the everyday reality of his personal mental health struggles. Through the portrayal of Moss’s experience, Oshiro provides a necessary voice to today’s young people—specifically black and brown teens—facing mental health issues while dealing with the trials and tribulations of growing up.”

—Isa Caban, Marketing Manager

The Extraordinaries by TJ Klune

“The Extraordinaries by TJ Klune is a fun and funny queer coming-of-age tale that I cannot recommend enough. Nick Bell writes fan-fic about the superheroes that protect his city — one of whom is Nick’s biggest crush. At its heart though, The Extraordinaries is a story about learning to accept — and celebrate — all the parts of you that make you different. Nick has ADHD and struggles with that at times. However, through the unconditional love and support from his friends and his dad, he learns how truly extraordinary he is. This is a book that readers will not only enjoy, but will no doubt, read again and again!”

—Anthony Parisi, Associate Director of Marketing

Darius the Great is Not Okay by Adib Khorram

“I will shout about how much I love Darius the Great is Not Okay to anyone who’s around to listen! The story follows biracial teen Darius Kellner as he takes his first ever trip to Iran to visit his mom’s family. Darius struggles with depression, and throughout the story learns how to embrace his feelings and find comfort in the friends and family around him who love him unconditionally. His relationship with his relatives also highlights different cultural understandings of mental health, which is a super important conversation to have! If you want to read a book that is full of heart and will make you feel all the feelings, you need to pick this up.”

—Sarah Pannenberg, Digital Marketing Coordinator

Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia

“In Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia, Eliza Mirk suffers from social anxiety and depression. But she’s an incredible artist that pours her heart into her art in a very anonymous waywith a phenomenal online presence as the creator of the wildly popular webcomic Monstrous Sea. The internet is where she can safely share her art without the glaring intensity of the spotlight. But along comes Wallace Warland, a new transfer student and Monstrous Sea’s biggest fanfiction writer. As an unlikely friendship blooms and he draws her out of her shell, Eliza can’t help but wonder if a life offline might be worthwhile after all. This is a perfect read for anyone looking for a relatable book about mental health that depicts the seriousness of depression and anxiety while still maintaining thoughtfulness and a lighter feel!”

—Ariana Carpentieri, Assistant to VP. Marketing & Publicity

The Infinite Noise by Lauren Shippen

“This amazing book alternates between moments of introspective depth, silly sweetness, and a combination of the two. Caleb is a junior in high school, a football player, and an overwhelmed empath. High school’s a tough enough time for any teen, but add in feeling the emotions of everyone around you all the time? Caleb’s lucky to have such a good therapist in Dr. Bright (who specializes in superpower-related therapy). Over the course of this queer coming-of-age story, Caleb practices re-centering himself with the help of Dr. Bright and his best friend / crush Adam, who struggles with depression. Through Caleb’s relationship with Adam, this book promotes empathy toward others, and through Caleb’s relationship with Dr. Bright, compassion for ourselves. Sometimes we need help in order to live happier, healthier lives, and there’s nothing wrong with that.”

—Andrew King, Marketing Assistant

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