Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books Dealing With Tough Subjects


The Ruby Oliver books aren’t as dark and serious as most of the other books on this list, but I think it does a good job of looking at bullying, a topic that is really important in our society of increasing bullying, especially cyber-bullying. This book isn’t about cyber-bullying, but it does look at bullying and slut-shaming, which are important things in the YA book world. And, I really like the books – need to reread them once my stack of library books is smaller.

This book definitely packs an emotional punch. It has a very frank look at high school bullying and “mean girls.” This is not a happy book, but plenty of “tough subject” books aren’t, and this book definitely fits the light-on-the-laughs category. There’s one scene in particular that made me very, very mad, a scene that showed how cruel teenage girls can be and that put me squarely on protagonist Regina’s side, no matter how bad she was before her very abrupt and huge fall from grace.

I’m not sure I could handle a book about kidnapping – this book is from the point of view of the left-behind friend of a kidnapping victim, and it was already quite emotional. This book is about the aftermath of kidnapping, the reality of how much the victim changes and how it affects the people around them, especially the friends left behind.

Date rape is a tough subject because it’s not something that happens to random people if they make the mistake of walking down a dark alley alone. This book takes a look at many things related to date rape, from the feelings of the victim (is she partly to blame, did she want it in the end?), the events leading up to the incident (teenage drinking), and the reactions of classmates (some support the victim, some support the rapist). Besides all that, this book also takes an interesting look at a school that continually looks the other way and the students who rise up to help the ignored victims.

YA books seem to be full of “loving” stalkers, teenage boys who show their love by watching their love interest every second of the day, controlling their every move. The stalking isn’t restricted to the men of YA, though – plenty of female protagonists seem to “lovingly” stalk their boys right back. This book does acknowledge the issue of stalking, as well as the emotional aftermath that the victim and the people around her are left with.

I’m not a big Sarah Ockler fan, but I did manage to enjoy her second book for the most part. This is mainly due to the family secrets that are explored in this book. Dysfunctional families are interesting to read about, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a tough subject as well. The relationship between mothers and daughters as well as sisters can be very interesting and complex.

This is one of my favorite books, and one reason is the way it handles tough issues like rape and teenage pregnancy. I appreciate the subtle rape scene – sometimes it’s good to be frank, but other times less is more. This book also brings up the option of abortion – the protagonist obviously doesn’t go through with it, but many people will appreciate the fact that the characters are realistic enough to consider it as one of the few options a pregnant teenage girl has.

This book looks at teenage suicide and the events before and after it. One of the most interesting things about this book, at least in my opinion, is the way little acts can affect someone else in a big way. This isn’t a happy book, and reading it on the school bus back in middle school probably wasn’t a smart idea, but it was a powerful one.

Who hasn’t heard about If I Stay and Where She Went in the YA book blog world? The books look at the pain of death and how it affects those left behind. If you haven’t read these books yet and are in the mood for plenty of emotions, check these books out.

I read these books recently and quickly figured out that reading Jessi Kirby’s books while out in public because I will tear up at least a little. Whether it’s Moonglass‘s dead mother or In Honor‘s dead brother, there’s a lot of death and secrets and sadness, but I really enjoyed these books. Seeing the aftermath of family death can be tough, but luckily it can lead to great books.


8 thoughts on “Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books Dealing With Tough Subjects

    1. I gave Sarah Ockler’s books one last chance with Fixing Delilah and I was surprised when I enjoyed it so much – not a new favorite or anything, but a good book. Stay, meanwhile, is definitely a favorite now, mostly for the characters. They’re all good books, though!

  1. I’d really like to read some of Courtney Summer’s stuff; I’ve heard it’s good. I didn’t much care for Thirteen Reasons Why. Nice list. 😀

    1. Courtney Summers’ stuff is very emotional and tough, but in the best way possible. Don’t read them if you’re in the mood for something happy, that’s for sure.
      I read Thirteen Reasons Why back when I was in middle school and haven’t gotten the chance to reread it since, so I don’t know if I would feel differently about it if I read it now, but I do remember feeling very invested in it, if only because I didn’t read many emotional contemporaries back then.

    1. I love Stay – well, I love all of the books, but Stay is one of my favorites, although not as much as Impossible. I never see other people read it, but I really love it for some reason.
      I know what you mean – most of the time I don’t like reading sad books because of the sadness but sometimes I just get a bunch of very emotional and tough books to read all at once. I’m sure this TTT topic will help me find future books…

  2. I also thoroughly enjoyed Impossible. So few know about this gem, so I’m glad you’ve read and loved it!

    1. I’m really surprised by how little I see this book in the YA book blogosphere, but I love it. Apparently there’s going to be a sequel, though, and I’m not sure if I want to check it out – I was happy with the way Impossible ended and don’t want poor Lucy to deal with any more problems!

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