Books That Feature Characters Dealing with Mental Illness

Not the taboo subject it once was, mental illness offers rich territory to explore in books for kids and teens. Stories chronicling the struggles of young people and their friends, siblings, or parents who suffer from anxiety, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), agoraphobia, an eating disorder, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, hypochondria, and other illnesses make for engrossing, insightful reading and help build understanding and empathy. Check out these multilayered novels and memoirs that explore this complex psychological terrain. And you might also want to take a look at our list of Books with Characters Who Have Physical Disabilities

Browse Books That Feature Characters Dealing with Mental Illness

The Goldfish Boy Book Poster Image
Intriguing mystery inspires empathy for OCD sufferers.
By Lisa Thompson
(2017)
(2017)
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Some Kind of Happiness Book Poster Image
Adventurous girl uncovers family secrets in engrossing read.
By Claire Legrand
(2016)
(2016)
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Where the Watermelons Grow Book Poster Image
Book about mental illness in family is real yet reassuring.
By Cindy Baldwin
(2018)
(2018)
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Finding Perfect Book Poster Image
Hopeful story of likeable tween's struggle with OCD.
By Elly Swartz
(2016)
(2016)
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As Brave As You Book Poster Image
Poignant summer adventure brims with family love and hope.
By Jason Reynolds
(2016)
(2016)
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The Madman of Piney Woods Book Poster Image
Moving 1901 adventure explores race, class, mental illness.
By Christopher Paul Curtis
(2014)
(2014)
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The Nest Book Poster Image
Poignant sick-sibling tale blurs lines of real and imagined.
By Kenneth Oppel
(2015)
(2015)
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Sure Signs of Crazy Book Poster Image
Unforgettable story of girl moving beyond her tragic past.
By Karen Harrington
(2013)
(2013)
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Forget Me Not Book Poster Image
Compelling story of girl dealing with Tourette syndrome.
By Ellie Terry
(2017)
(2017)
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Calvin Book Poster Image
Quirky, compelling tale of schizophrenic teen on quest.
By Martine Leavitt
(2015)
(2015)
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Invisible Girl Book Poster Image
Searing memoir of growing up in troubled family offers hope.
By Mariel Hemingway, Ben Greenman
(2015)
(2015)
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Under Rose-Tainted Skies Book Poster Image
Mental health issues meet romance in witty, touching story.
By Louise Gornall
(2017)
(2017)
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Without Tess Book Poster Image
Compelling tale of teen haunted by troubled sister's death.
By Marcella Pixley
(2011)
(2011)
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A World Without You Book Poster Image
Reality and delusion mix in sensitive mental illness drama.
By Beth Revis
(2016)
(2016)
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What I Lost Book Poster Image
Realistic, uplifting tale of teen in treatment for anorexia.
By Alexandra Ballard
(2017)
(2017)
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Highly Illogical Behavior Book Poster Image
Sweet, funny tale of teen helping boy beat fear of outside.
By John Corey Whaley
(2016)
(2016)
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Just Listen Book Poster Image
Teen girl struggles following trauma in riveting novel.
By Sarah Dessen
(2006)
(2006)
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The Memory of Light Book Poster Image
Realistic, gripping look at teen suicide and mental illness.
By Francisco X. Stork
(2016)
(2016)
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Paperweight Book Poster Image
Beautifully written tale of teen with eating disorder.
By Meg Haston
(2015)
(2015)
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Wintergirls Book Poster Image
Disturbing, lauded eating disorder read; discuss with teens.
By Laurie Halse Anderson
(2009)
(2009)
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All the Bright Places Book Poster Image
Compelling teen romance tackles suicide, finds hope.
By Jennifer Niven
(2015)
(2015)
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Challenger Deep Book Poster Image
Sensitive tale of teen's descent into mental illness.
By Neal Shusterman
(2015)
(2015)
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Every Last Word Book Poster Image
Touching tale of girl with OCD finding love through poetry.
By Tamara Ireland Stone
(2015)
(2015)
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The First Time She Drowned Book Poster Image
Beautiful, gripping story of healing after abuse.
By Kerry Kletter
(2016)
(2016)
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Girl in Pieces Book Poster Image
Teen heals from loss and self-harm in gritty, gripping tale.
By Kathleen Glasgow
(2016)
(2016)
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I Never Promised You a Rose Garden Book Poster Image
Classic story of teen schizophrenic still engages.
By Joanne Greenberg
(2003)
(1964)
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The Impossible Knife of Memory Book Poster Image
Stunning story about girl living with wounded vet father.
By Laurie Halse Anderson
(2013)
(2014)
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In Sight of Stars Book Poster Image
Sweet story of boy's breakdown recovery takes time to gel.
By Gae Polisner
(2018)
(2018)
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It's Kind of a Funny Story Book Poster Image
Brilliant, edgy story about suicide best for mature teens.
By Ned Vizzini
(2012)
(2006)
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Mosquitoland Book Poster Image
Unforgettable story of a girl's 1,000-mile journey home.
By David Arnold
(2015)
(2015)
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My Sister Rosa Book Poster Image
Riveting thriller about teen boy and psychopath kid sister.
By Justine Larbalestier
(2016)
(2016)
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OCD Love Story Book Poster Image
Unique novel about OCD teens in love is disturbing but good.
By Corey Ann Haydu
(2013)
(2013)
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Turtles All the Way Down Book Poster Image
Thought-provoking exploration of mental illness, first love.
By John Green
(2017)
(2017)
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When We Collided Book Poster Image
Heartfelt summer romance explores mental illness and grief.
By Emery Lord
(2016)
(2016)
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Whisper to Me Book Poster Image
Riveting mystery surrounds teen who hears voice in her head.
By Nick Lake
(2016)
(2016)
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Wild Awake Book Poster Image
Brilliant, intense tale of teen coping with grief.
By Hilary T. Smith
(2013)
(2013)
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Crazy Book Poster Image
Edgy story of bipolar teen and the boy who loves her.
By Amy Reed
(2012)
(2012)
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A Sense of the Infinite Book Poster Image
Gorgeously written, mature tale of teen's self-discovery.
By Hilary T. Smith
(2015)
(2015)
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One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest Book Poster Image
Kesey's great madhouse epic best for older teens.
By Ken Kesey
(2011)
(2002)
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