The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
Being a psychology student, many of my favourite novels tend to cover relatively serious and difficult-to-discuss topics. To me, they could be considered some of the most insightful expressions of the real world, regardless of when you read them. The following 6 books consider the complexity of a few different heavy issues and convey them with a more optimistic mindset.
1. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
This novel is a classic that you’ve probably already read in high school. It’s one of my absolute favourites, covering tough topics like sexual assault and racial inequality. Through the characterization of Atticus Finch, Harper Lee teaches the importance of learning to walk in someone else’s shoes and refusing to judge a book by it’s cover. It intertwines humour with essential life lessons while considering the significance of these hard-hitting issues.
2. Paperweight by Meg Haston
This novel follows the life of a 17-year-old girl struggling with eating disorders, alcohol abuse and self-harm. It emphasizes the strength it takes to recover and shows the difficult process of picking up the broken pieces in learning to love oneself. Unlike other novels I have read regarding eating disorders, this novel is incredibly realistic in its depiction of anorexia and its triggers, making it a tough, but worthwhile pill to swallow.
3. Looking For Alaska by John Green
This novel looks at self-discovery and loss. John Green draws on the meaning of life and uses death as a way to teach the importance of cherishing every present moment. These flawed teenage characters take you through their experiences of both firsts and last. It’s difficult to discuss the importance of this book without spoiling it, but I assure you it’s worth the read. When I started it, I couldn’t put it down.
4. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
Though seemingly comedic on the outside, this novel deals with emotional and difficult topics, such as suicide, sexual assault and abuse. It shows the importance of different perspectives and challenges of the psychological human need to ‘fit in.’ This book is beautifully written and has incredibly deep roots in trauma and grief. If you don’t have the book or the time to read it, the film is just as good!
5. The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls
This novel is a true memoir of Jeanette’s childhood neglect while living in poverty. By neither demonizing nor idealizing her mentally ill parents, she discusses very honestly the problems she had experienced like abuse and alcoholism. She spins the issues she had in her past into positives for her future, displaying her upbringing as perseverance and self-reliance instead of bitterness.
6. Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
This novel became a popular Walt Disney film during my childhood, surrounding topics of friendship and loss. It also brings up the burden of meeting parental expectations. The character development in this novel makes it such an incredible, but heartbreaking read. Though it was written for young audiences and contains aspects of childhood fantasy if you haven’t already read or watched it, you will not regret doing so…bring tissues.
If you haven’t taken the time to read these novels (or view the films based on these novels), I highly recommend doing so. Every single one of these pieces is incredibly written, speaking to these difficult issues with so much emotion and passion that it’ll show you a new perspective that you may not have considered before.