Top Ten Books Dealing With Tough Subjects

This week’s topic: Top Ten Books Dealing With Tough Subjects

This week’s topic – pretty much the opposite of last week’s books for when you need something light and fluffy – was, for me, easier in a way because I had more books to choose from (since I apparently read lots of emotionally heavy books… something I’m trying fix and balance). Of course this also made things a bit more difficult because I had to choose 10 when there are so many good ones to share!

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by the fabulous blog The Broke and the Bookish!
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1. If You Find Me by Emily Murdoch

I haven’t reviewed this one yet, but it’s one of those books with a quiet intensity that completely pulls in the reader. I admit it, I cried a couple times while reading it.

There are some things you can’t leave behind…

A broken-down camper hidden deep in a national forest is the only home fifteen year-old Carey can remember. The trees keep guard over her threadbare existence, with the one bright spot being Carey’s younger sister, Jenessa, who depends on Carey for her very survival. All they have is each other, as their mentally ill mother comes and goes with greater frequency. Until that one fateful day their mother disappears for good, and two strangers arrive. Suddenly, the girls are taken from the woods and thrust into a bright and perplexing new world of high school, clothes and boys.


Now, Carey must face the truth of why her mother abducted her ten years ago, while haunted by a past that won’t let her go… a dark past that hides many a secret, including the reason Jenessa hasn’t spoken a word in over a year. Carey knows she must keep her sister close, and her secrets even closer, or risk watching her new life come crashing down.

2. Pretty Girl-13 by Liz Coley

This is another recent read that completely blew me away. The things this MC goes through… I get emotional just thinking about it. Check out my review here.

Reminiscent of the Elizabeth Smart case, Pretty Girl-13 is a disturbing and powerful psychological mystery about a girl who must piece together the story of her kidnapping and captivity.

Angie Chapman was thirteen years old when she ventured into the woods alone on a Girl Scouts camping trip. Now she’s returned home…only to find that it’s three years later and she’s sixteen-or at least that’s what everyone tells her.


What happened to the past three years of her life?

Angie doesn’t know.

But there are people who do — people who could tell Angie every detail of her forgotten time, if only they weren’t locked inside her mind. With a tremendous amount of courage, Angie embarks on a journey to discover the fragments of her personality, otherwise known as her “alters.” As she unearths more and more about her past, she discovers a terrifying secret and must decide: When you remember things you wish you could forget, do you destroy the parts of yourself that are responsible?

Liz Coley’s alarming and fascinating psychological mystery is a disturbing – and ultimately empowering page-turner about accepting our whole selves, and the healing power of courage, hope, and love.

3. Lie by Caroline Bock

Very powerful novel … this one never got as much attention as it deserved.

Everybody knows, nobody’s talking. . . . 
Seventeen-year-old Skylar Thompson is being questioned by the police. Her boyfriend, Jimmy, stands accused of brutally assaulting two young El Salvadoran immigrants from a neighboring town, and she’s the prime witness. Skylar is keeping quiet about what she’s seen, but how long can she keep it up? 
But Jimmy was her savior . . . .
When her mother died, he was the only person who made her feel safe, protected from the world. But when she begins to appreciate the enormity of what has happened, especially when Carlos Cortez, one of the victims, steps up to demand justice, she starts to have second thoughts about protecting Jimmy. Jimmy’s accomplice, Sean, is facing his own moral quandary. He’s out on bail and has been offered a plea in exchange for testifying against Jimmy.
The truth must be told. . . . 
Sean must decide whether or not to turn on his friend in order to save himself. But most important, both he and Skylar need to figure out why they would follow someone like Jimmy in the first place.


4. Miles from Ordinary by Carol Lynch Williams

I’ve never been disappointed by ones of Williams’ novels… each one is incredibly powerful and deals with a tough topic!

Thirteen-year-old Lacey wakes to a beautiful summer morning excited to begin her new job at the library, just as her mother is supposed to start work at the grocery store. Lacey hopes that her mother’s ghosts have finally been laid to rest; after all, she seems so much better these days, and they really do need the money. But as the hours tick by and memories come flooding back, a day full of hope spins terrifyingly out of control…


5. Stay by Deb Caletti

Stay
 is, without a doubt, my favorite of Caletti’s novels. This one deals with an abusive relationship and a girl’s struggle to escape it, even after she’s physically left. Some of my favorite bookish quotes are from this book!

Clara’s relationship with Christian is intense from the start, and like nothing she’s ever experienced before. But what starts as devotion quickly becomes obsession, and it’s almost too late before Clara realizes how far gone Christian is and what he’s willing to do to make her stay.


Now Clara has left the city and Christian behind. No one back home has any idea where she is, but she still struggles to shake off her fear. She knows Christian won’t let her go that easily, and that no matter how far she runs, it may not be far enough….


6. Broken Soup by Jenny Valentine

One of my favorite books! I won’t even attempt to talk about it… it’s always been one of those books I feel you just have to read.

When the good-looking boy with the American accent presses the dropped negative into Rowan’s hand, she’s sure it’s all a big mistake. But next moment he’s gone, lost in the crowd of bustling shoppers. And she can’t afford to lose her place in the checkout queue — after all, if she doesn’t take the groceries home, nobody else will. Rowan has more responsibilities than most girls her age. These days, she pretty much looks after her little sister single-handedly — which doesn’t leave much time for friends or fun. So when she finds out that Bee from school saw the whole thing, it piques her curiosity. Who was the boy? Why was he so insistent that the negative belonged to Rowan?

7. Fall for Anything by Courtney Summers

I adore each and every one of Summers’ books… each one feels like it has been written specifically for me and handed down from a higher power. Okay, maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but I think I’ve made my point. I mean, I even named my cat Milo after a character in this book.

From the author of Cracked Up to Be and Some Girls Are comes a gripping story about one girl’s search for clues into the mysterious death of her father. 

When Eddie Reeves’s father commits suicide her life is consumed by the nagging question of why? Why when he was a legendary photographer and a brilliant teacher? Why when he seemed to find inspiration in everything he saw? And, most important, why when he had a daughter who loved him more than anyone else in the world? When she meets Culler Evans, a former student of her father’s and a photographer himself, an instant and dangerous attraction begins. Culler seems to know more about her father than she does and could possibly hold the key to the mystery surrounding his death. But Eddie’s vulnerability has weakened her and Culler Evans is getting too close. Her need for the truth keeps her hanging on…but are some questions better left unanswered?


8. Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A.S. King

If you haven’t read this book yet, you’re doing something wrong with your life. So unbelievably good.

Vera’s spent her whole life secretly in love with her best friend, Charlie Kahn. And over the years she’s kept a lot of his secrets. Even after he betrayed her. Even after he ruined everything.
So when Charlie dies in dark circumstances, Vera knows a lot more than anyone—the kids at school, his family, even the police. But will she emerge to clear his name? Does she even want to?
Edgy and gripping, Please Ignore Vera Dietz is an unforgettable novel: smart, funny, dramatic, and always surprising.

9. The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson

I am completely, totally in love with this book. In fact, until I read The Sky is Everywhere, no other book rivaled Jellicoe Road as my favorite. Absolutely gorgeous and brilliant.

Seventeen-year-old Lennie Walker, bookworm and band geek, plays second clarinet and spends her time tucked safely and happily in the shadow of her fiery older sister, Bailey. But when Bailey dies abruptly, Lennie is catapulted to center stage of her own life – and, despite her nonexistent history with boys, suddenly finds herself struggling to balance two. Toby was Bailey’s boyfriend; his grief mirrors Lennie’s own. Joe is the new boy in town, a transplant from Paris whose nearly magical grin is matched only by his musical talent. For Lennie, they’re the sun and the moon; one boy takes her out of her sorrow, the other comforts her in it. But just like their celestial counterparts, they can’t collide without the whole wide world exploding.

This remarkable debut is perfect for fans of Sarah Dessen, Deb Caletti, and Francesca Lia Block. Just as much a celebration of love as it is a portrait of loss, Lennie’s struggle to sort her own melody out of the noise around her is always honest, often hilarious, and ultimately unforgettable.

10. Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson

Oh my gosh, I cannot even tell you how much I cried reading this. I was a hot mess, seriously. Matson can write… and it hurts, in a good, cathartic way.

Taylor Edwards’ family might not be the closest-knit—everyone is a little too busy and overscheduled—but for the most part, they get along just fine. Then Taylor’s dad gets devastating news, and her parents decide that the family will spend one last summer all together at their old lake house in the Pocono Mountains.

Crammed into a place much smaller and more rustic than they are used to, they begin to get to know each other again. And Taylor discovers that the people she thought she had left behind haven’t actually gone anywhere. Her former best friend is still around, as is her first boyfriend…and he’s much cuter at seventeen than he was at twelve.

As the summer progresses and the Edwards become more of a family, they’re more aware than ever that they’re battling a ticking clock. Sometimes, though, there is just enough time to get a second chance—with family, with friends, and with love.
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14 thoughts on “Top Ten Books Dealing With Tough Subjects

  1. If You Find Me is on my list as well; I didn't cry while reading it, but it was very emotional and touching. I really want to read something by Courtney Summers; I own Some Girls Are so I'll probably start with that, but Fall For Anything looks interesting, too. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Ohh, nice choices! They all sound so good and I haven't read most of them yet, so that again makes for a huge TBR list 🙂 Also, I love issue books that go deeper than your average contemporary!

  3. I'm so glad that you shared Broken Soup on this list because it deserves to be. It seems like not many people know about it, but it is a must read for any read of ya contemporary. It was one of the first books that I ever reviewed on my blog just because I wanted to. It made me feel so much.

  4. Wow I LOVE your list!!! I thought I was the biggest Courtney Summers fan ever, but then you named your cat after one of her characters, so maybe you got me there 🙂 Miles from Ordinary looks really good, I'm adding it to my to-read right now!! And of course I loved Stay, Vera Dietz, & The Sky is Everywhere!! My TTT

  5. I haven't read any of these books, but I've heard such good things about them (and seen them on so many lists today) that it probably means I have some reading to do. Thanks for sharing!If you'd like, you can check out my list here.

  6. Haven't read any of these but I do plan on reading most of these. That should count somehow, right? And since you tend to read emotionally heavy books I might come to you for recs 'cause I'm kinda getting addicted to them.

  7. I've only read The Sky is Everywhere on your list, and I don't remember it very well except that I adore that cover, still. I've seen If You Find Me on a few lists … I'll have to add it to my TBR.

  8. Great list- I don't think I've read any of these though. Lots that I want to check out, however, especially Pretty Girl-13 and Second Chance Summer. I love "tough issue" books. They just suck me in and make me care so much for the characters.-lauren

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