Posted in Shattering Stigmas

An Anxious Reader’s Guide to YA Contemporary by Jill @ A Book Nerd Reads

Hello! I’m Jill from booknerd_reads on Instagram and my blog I’m so honored to be appearing on Taylor’s special two-week blogging event for Mental Health Awareness Week, Shattering Stigmas. It’s incredible she’s gathering so many bloggers for this event! This week is special to me in particular because discussing mental health on my social media and blog is an important part of my platform and I’m so glad to be discussing it all with you here.

What’s even more special to me is combining mental health and my love for reading. There is no feeling better than seeing yourself represented in books, so when I find a book that perfectly describes the anxiety I’ve felt all my life, I get this overwhelming sense of joy.

And I want the rest of you to feel that same way.

So I’m going to be sharing a few of my favorite YA novels that feature main characters and or plots that feature anxiety. Some of these books explicitly state the character has anxiety, or is implied through context of the story. If there are any other MI identities featured in the novel, I’ll include that as well as possible trigger warnings if there are listed.

I really hope you like my recommendations! Enjoy!

Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia

I read Eliza and Her Monsters back in April, and I absolutely adored it! Eliza has the same as Cath from Fangirl with similar themes of fan culture, but features a main character (Eliza) who is officially diagnosed with anxiety. I really enjoyed the slow burn friends to lover romance (one of my favorite YA tropes!) and the warm feeling of being a part of an online community. If any of that appeals to you, then I definitely recommend Eliza and Her Monsters. Trigger warnings include anxiety, depression, self-harm, and suicidal thoughts.

Under Rose-Tainted Skies by Louise Gornall

Isn’t that cover gorgeous? The main character, Norah, suffers from OCD, anxiety, and agoraphobia. The plot of Under Rose-Tainted Skies surrounds Norah’s mental health—particularly her growing attachment to her next door neighbor, Luke, who feels worlds away from her. I enjoyed the emphasis on relationships within this novel; Norah and her therapist, Norah and her mother, Norah and Luke. . .I recommend Under Rose-Tainted Skies if you’re interested in mental health-based plots. Trigger warnings include OCD, panic attacks, agoraphobia, and self-harm.

Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde

Just like Eliza and Her Monsters, Queens of Geek features themes of fan culture as it’s set at a a convention called SupaCon (think San Diego Comic Con!) The story surrounds Charlie, Taylor, and Jamie are visiting from Australia to attend the convention. Taylor is on the autistic spectrum and has anxiety. While it is not the main point of the story, she spends the novel dealing with her anxiety and growing closer romantically with Jamie. If you like modern pop culture, intersectional identities, and friends to lovers romance, Queens of Geek is perfect for you! Trigger warnings include biphobia, ableism, anxiety, panic attacks, sexism, and bullying.

Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella

Finding Audrey is actually the exception here since it is technically middle grade rather than YA, but I’m including it because the themes might resonate with an older audience. This novel features main character, Audrey, who suffers from intense social anxiety and the obstacles surrounding her recovery process. While there is a romantic subplot, the novel is focused on family dynamics (which I really enjoyed!) Content warnings include anxiety and panic attacks.

Turtles All the Way Down by John Green

The main character of Turtles All the Way Down, Aza, suffers from anxiety and OCD. While I personally think the plot and romance aren’t its strongest points, the authenticity behind Aza’s mental illness makes it my favorite novel from John Green (and the most unique!) I love the symbolism of the spiral. I love the deep philosophical themes we know and expect from John, while maintaining a more down-to-earth theme of mental health and identity. Content warnings include OCD, anxiety, self-harm, depersonalization, and panic attacks.

Once again, I really hope you liked my recommendations! Even though I have anxiety myself, my opinion on the representation in these books might differ from someone else because they are just one perspective among many. (That’s just one thing to take into account when reading on heavier subjects like mental health. Luckily, we have cute contemporary themes to balance it out!)

While it’s great to highlight the importance of mental health this week, it’s even more important to keep that support going all year round! Check in on your friends, whether they’re doing great or not-so-great. Drink water, take your medications, get help if you have access, or just talk to someone willing to listen.

Whatever you do, taking care of your mental health is just as important as maintaining your physical health. I want you to be the best you, and you don’t have to do that alone.

Thanks for reading! Here’s to a happy Mental Health Awareness week, month, and year.

Enter our *international* giveaway for a mental health read of your choice!

Interested in more Shattering Stigmas posts? Check out this post that Ben, another of our amazing co-hosts, put together listing every single Shattering Stigmas guest post and giveaway so you don’t miss a thing!

4 thoughts on “An Anxious Reader’s Guide to YA Contemporary by Jill @ A Book Nerd Reads

  1. I read Audrey, Eliza, and Turtles – loved them all. How to Disappear and Love and Other Alien Experiences are two books featuring characters with social anxiety that come to mind, which I thought were wonderful.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. What a great group of recommendations! I have read all of the books on your list except Finding Audrey, which has been on my TBR for a while because I hear it has great anxiety rep– I’m glad to hear you thought so, too! Thanks for sharing these recs, Jill! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I LOVE all of these recommendations so, so much! I have read and loved everything on this list, except for Finding Audrey, which I haven’t read just yet, but…. I’m guessing that I really should, now. It sounds like a great book and I’m always looking for more anxiety rep in stories, too. Thank you for sharing this! 🙂


  4. I absolutely ADORE Queens of Geek, Under Rose-Tainted Skies, and Eliza and Her Monsters, Jill! I recommend them all the time. One more I would add is Am I Normal Yet? by Holly Bourne. One of my favourite series of all time.


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