Books Like I Know This Much Is True
I Know This Much Is True was written by Wally Lamb in 1998, but recently gained attention again because of the television adaptation starring Mark Ruffalo. The story is set in the early 90s and features identical twins, Dominick and Thomas Birdsey. Thomas suffers from paranoid schizophrenia and Dominic is forced to care for his brother after a shocking incident. In the process, Dominic also has to face his own suppressed pain and trauma. While many books deal with characters who have mental health issues few of them are able to tackle the subject in such an honest, yet emphatic manner as Wally Lamb's novel. For readers who want to experience more stories of characters dealing with challenging mental issues check out the following books like I Know This Much Is True.
by Bebe Moore Campbell
72 Hour Hold by Bebe Moore Campbell is another novel that explores how mental illness is something that doesn't just affect those who suffer its effects, but also those who are close to them. It is the heart-wrenching story of Keri, a mother trying to help her eighteen-year-old daughter, Trina, who suffers from bipolar disorder. Keri is terrified of the paranoid, wild, and violent person her daughter turns into because of her illness and desperately seeks help for her. However, she discovers that seventy-two hours is the longest that Trina can be held by a facility before she is released again. Keri not only has to deal with the bureaucracy surrounding mental illness but as a black, single mother the odds are further stacked against her.
by Neal Shusterman
Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman is the story of Caden, a fifteen-year-old high school student who suffers from schizophrenia. The story is told from Caden's perspective too, so it depicts his everyday struggles along with the fantasy world he immerses himself in. At school, Caden's friends begin to notice his odd behavior as he becomes paranoid, obsessive-compulsive, and believes that people want to kill him. He tells his parents that he has joined the school track team when in reality he is actually just walking around absorbed by his own thoughts. It is in this other world that Caden is a crew member of a ship that is heading for the southern part of the Marianas Trench and the deepest point on Earth, Challenger Deep. Neal Shusterman actually based the novel on his own son's mental illness and asked for his input to make it more authentic.
by Helena Fox
How It Feels To Float is a young adult novel by Helena Fox that deals with inter-generational mental illness. The protagonist, Biz, is a seventeen-year-old girl who lost her dad when she was seven years old. Biz blames herself for her father's death and keeps the fact that she can still see him a secret from everyone else. Her life changes after an incident at a beach party which causes Biz to be ostracized by her friends and become suicidal. Biz also suffers from panic attacks, hallucinations, and disassociation which causes her to drop out of school and seek professional help. How It Feels To Float is also written from the first-person point of view, which makes the story even more impactful.
by Tamara Ireland Stone
Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone is the story of a teen named Samantha McAllister. On the surface, she is just like the rest of the popular girls in her junior class, but Samantha is doing her best to hide the fact that she has Purely-Obsessional OCD. She also second-guesses every move she makes and is consumed by dark thoughts and worries that she cannot control. Samantha knows that while she fits in with the most popular girls in school they would turn on her the second she makes any mistake. The novel explores her mental illness and ongoing therapy that she keeps hidden from her peers. It also shows how Samantha's life changes when she makes a new friend and finally begins to feel accepted.
by Beth Revis
Bo is the seventeen-year-old protagonist of A World Without You by Beth Revis. He suffers from delusions that make him believe that he can travel through time and has witnessed everything from the sinking of the Titanic to the Civil War firsthand. Even when his parents send him to a school for troubled youth Bo believes that he is actually attending an academy for people with superpowers. It is at this school where Bo meets and falls in love with a depressed girl named Sofia. Tragically, she takes her own life, but Bo is unwilling to accept her death and believes that he can save her by returning to the past and finding her. A World Without You is a heartrending novel of how it can be easier for someone to succumb to their psychosis than to face the harsh realities of life.
by John Corey Whaley
All too often people who suffer from mental illness is portrayed in book and movies as scary and dangerous to everyone around them. In Highly Illogical Behavior by John Corey Whaley the protagonist is a sixteen-year-old named Solomon who suffers from agoraphobia. His condition is so severe that he hasn't left his house in three years and instead receives his education online to avoid the mental anguish of daily life. Things change when a girl named Lisa finds out about Solomon's condition. She comes up with a plan to befriend him so that she can write a paper that might help her get a scholarship for the top tier psychiatry program she desperately wants to join. However, in an attempt to earn Solomon's trust she also opens up about her own life and introduces him to her boyfriend Clark, which has consequences for all three teens.