This week’s topic is: Books with “Hard” Topics. In case you were wondering what the heck that means. Think of it as the books tackle issues that aren’t exactly light. Things like oppression, mental illnesses, coping with physical disabilities, illness, assault. You know the things that you pick up and think, “Oh shit, I don’t know if I can handle this right now.” Those are the kinds of books we are talking about today. I’ll admit this one was kind of hard for me because I tend to prefer my books to include these topics as an element rather than the central focus, but I’m doing my best here.
Let me just make this clear, there is one book that will not make that list though some of you might wonder while. I’ll address it. The Fault in Our Stars is not on here. I love John Green, but I fucking hate that book. End of story.
I’m going to warn you that while I’m not going to spoil the plot of the stories, some of the hard topics involved may not have been addressed in marketing. So this is your warning that there may be some spoilers.
As always these books are in no particular order.
Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
Hard Topic: Assisted Suicide
I only read this book recently and it wrecked me in probably every way possible. I wasn’t sure that I would be able to handle this story because everyone one said it made them cry. While I didn’t become a weeping sad sack, it hit me in all the right places. I did cry, but it was because of the emotional trip that this story took me on.
If I Fall, If I Die by Michael Christie
Hard Topic: Agoraphobia (mental illness)
I knew that this book was about agoraphobia going in. I just didn’t realize how much of a struggle it would be to watch this boy desperately want to get out in the world. It was interesting seeing everything from his perspective, but also getting glimpses of his mother’s slow retreat into herself. While it isn’t the most amazing story, I felt that it handled the subject matter as well, while also hitting on some other hard topics including the way that Native Americans are treated and how people with debilitating mental illnesses are regarded within society and used against their will at times.
Kindred by Octavia Butler
Hard Topic: Slaver
I was weary about going into this one, not because I didn’t think it would be amazing. I was nervous going in how slavery was depicted. Octavia Butler managed to handle the topic of a modern woman being thrown back in time brilliantly. It was a story of heartbreaksseeing how people were treated on a level where people came to live. It was also heartwrenching to see the journey of Dana and her hope to redeem Rufus.
None of the Above by I.W. Greggorio
Hard Topic: Gender Identity
Gender Identity is something that many people struggle with. I generally wouldn’t consider this a hard topic, but the way the crisis of identity was handled was done well. Also the entire focus was on how she coped with this sudden change in what she believed were facts and how much and little that changed her life.
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
Hard Topic: Racial inquality and opportunity gap
It doesn’t seem like this book would really get so deep. Surely there are people who read this story at face value. or don’t see just how much of a struggle this is. It’s easy to forget considering that Alexie masks the tough stuff in humor or by temporarily drowning you in character emotion. However, there’s a lot more going on here and it really spoke to me. Plus if you’re nervous about going into a book that addresses a hard topic, this is probably the easiest one to digest, despite the deep things that can be garnered from it.