Unhinged Minds: New Teen Titles

Two notable teen novels I've read this fall related to becoming "unhinged."

Along those lines, I've always loved spirals, but now imagine them as tightening, dizzying and paralyzing in their vast depth, thanks to John Green's latest novel, Turtles All the Way Down.

Green's book explores mental health issues and reminds us of the fragile depths of obsessions, love, grief and loneliness one can feel in this world of "crazy circumstances." It's utterly satisfying, on so many levels.

Thankfully, and still, I find that spirals really are beautiful, and Aza and Davis helped me see them from both perspectives (small and large ends). They, along with Daisy, are complex characters you'll grow to love. (And I haven't even told you about Iron Man, Star Wars fan-fiction and astronomy!)

The book I read immediately prior to Green's was At the Edge of the Universe by Shaun David Hutchinson, which also deals with mental health and spirals of thoughts, swirling rainbow screensavers, as well as corkscrew roller coasters. As in Green's book, the characters in Huntchinson's are compelling and intriguing, anticipating and preparing for the unknowns that will follow their senior year in high school.

The main character, Ozzie, is struggling with a constricting belief that the universe is shrinking. As it closes in on him, a person he loves disappears. Ozzie struggles searching for his lost boyfriend, Tommy, while his fears and anxiety grow. Like Green's book, there are cops and psychiatrists in this novel. There's also self-harm, bullying, adultery and sexual abuse in this novel, which has important and heavy topics that will make a readers' hearts ache. Mine especially broke for Ozzie's science project partner, Calvin, who begins shrinking away from life. 

Green's and Hutchinson's books allow readers to contemplate how the mind works and malfunctions. They also provide mental health resources, including the following:

  • SAMHSA Treatment Referral Helpline: (877) SAMHSA7
  • The Trevor Project
  • National Suicide Prevention Hotline: (800) 273-8255

If you know someone struggling with a mental health issue or you yourself are dealing with one, know you're never alone.

Mental Health and Behavior Resources available through Medline Plus, one of CPL's Online Resources, would be useful to explore.

  • Medline Plus' Mental Health and Behavior page includes a basic summary of mental health topics alphabetized from A-Z with basic information such as symptoms, diagnosis and treatment, as well as related health topics, videos and tutorials, resources/experts, statistics and even related journal articles for further research.

Take care, readers!

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