This week’s Top Ten on The Broke and the Bookish blog is “Top Ten Books Dealing with Tough Subjects,” such as abuse, suicide, grief, etc. or something that is personally difficult.
1. Last Night I Sang to the Monster by Benjamin Alire Sáenz
A heartbreaking novel about an 18-year-old boy in treatment for alcoholism who must confront his violent, traumatic past if he ever hopes to recover.
2. Stitches by David Small
Beloved picture-book illustrator, David Small, uses the graphic novel format to tell this powerful, emotionally charged story of his troubled childhood. He recounts growing up in a dysfunctional family and how his radiologist father–who subjected young David to regular x-rays–inadvertently gave him throat cancer, leaving him voiceless.
3. Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult
Picoult has never been shy of exploring difficult, controversial topics. In Nineteen Minutes, she uses multiple perspectives to explores the aftermath of a school shooting that leaves ten dead and 19 wounded.
4. A Child Called “It”: One Child’s Courage to Survive by David Pelzer
A disturbing and unflinching account of child abuse.
5. Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
One of the best young adult novels that explores teen suicide, rape, and the damage that can be caused by rumors and bullying.
6. Push by Sapphire
The source material for the Oscar-winning film, Precious, the protagonist of this gritty and disturbing novel is an obese, African American 16-year-old girl who is illiterate, living with HIV, and a victim of child abuse, rape, and incest, forced to carry her father’s child.
7. Our Cancer Year by Harvey Pekar, Joyce Brabner, and Frank Stack
The second autobiographical comic book/graphic novel on this week’s list, Our Cancer Year recounts one year in the life of Harvey Pekar–newly diagnosed with lymphoma–and his wife, Joyce Brabner, as they deal with chemotherapy, buying a house, and other life challenges.
8. The Child in Time by Ian McEwan
A novel examining how the abduction of the protagonist’s three-year-old daughter from a supermarket destroys his marriage and his life.
9. Inexcusable by Chris Lynch
A harrowing young adult novel about high school date rape told from the rapists perspective.
10. A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
Perhaps the most personally difficult title on this week’s list, A Monster Calls expertly blends reality, fantasy, and horror genres to represent the pains and struggles of a young boy trying to come to terms with his terminally ill mother.