August 27, 2015
Being a teenager can be tough. It is one of the most difficult phases of your life. As you grow up, there are more responsibilities: more homework, more expectations, and more pressure. On top of that, you’re trying to figure out who you are are, searching for your purpose - your true identity. It’s not easy, and it’s more difficult for some than for others. Many teenagers suffer with mental illness, and it is a constant struggle. I have very close friends that suffer with depression and anxiety. Some of them even turn to self harm. For the past few months, I’ve read a few coming-of-age stories, and all of them touch upon mental illness among teengers and the hardship that results. These books can give readers who are suffering with these types of mental issues a sense of hope, letting them know that they are not alone and that other people have to deal with the same issues every day.
The first book I read was It’s Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini. Stressed about growing up and having to deal with suicidal thoughts, 16-year-old Craig Gilner decides to check into a mental-health clinic and ends up staying at an adult psychiatric unit. During his stay, Craig meets a group of patients that help him overcome his anxiety and find his true self.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky is another one of my favourite coming of age novels that deals with the issue of mental illness. Charlie, a socially awkward teenager, struggles to make friends on his first day of high school, until he meets Sam and her stepbrother, Patrick. Together, they develop an unbreakable friendship, allowing Charlie to discover first love, the joy of being young, the escape music can give you, and the thrill of doing something new.
The next novel I am going to recommend has been compared many times to The Perks of Being a Wallflower, due to its writing style and the similar struggles the main characters in each novel face. And this classic book is none other but The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger! Expelled from Pencey Prep (a private school), Holden Caulfield leaves campus two days earlier and heads out to New York to explore. Meeting people of the past and present, Holden struggles with the idea of growing up and losing innocence.
The last book I’m going to talk about is a book that caught my eye due to its title - Finding Audrey. Honestly, I actually only picked it up for the reason that my name was on the cover of the novel. I did read the summary in the inside cover though, so I didn’t entirely judge the book by its cover. Anyways, that doesn’t really matter! Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella is about a teenage girl named Audrey, who has developed an anxiety disorder due to an unfortunate incident. Her family and Dr. Sarah are there to help her, but she is making slow, steady progress. Then she meets a Linus and a deep relationship develops between them, helping not only Audrey, but her family as well.
These books capture not only the real struggle of growing up and trying to find yourself, but the mental issues that many teenagers experience (whether it’s anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, PTSD etc.). I highly recommend reading all of these books. These novels illustrate the reality of being a teenager and the difficulty of overcoming adolescence.
Do you have a book that helped you figure out some aspect of your life? What was it?