Bell Let’s Talk, taking place on January 25, is designed to remove stigmas around mental health and break the silence and barriers that so often surrounds them. We have a list of books to spark conversation in your family and give children protagonists they can relate to.
Chick: Lister by Alex Van Tol
Chick is a popular fourteen-year-old who is essentially on this earth to live up to his father’s impossible expectations—or, at least, that’s how he feels. This pressure is a grinding source of anxiety for him, which he copes with by making lists. He itemizes every aspect of his life, from his daily routine to the things that make him nervous. But as the pressure of school and his budding romance with his debating teammate Audrey builds, his compulsion starts to feel impossible to control—or conceal.
Three Little Words by Sarah N. Harvey
Sixteen-year-old Sid barely remembers his birth mother and has no idea who his father was. Raised on an idyllic island by loving foster parents, Sid would be content to stay there forever, drawing, riding his bike, hanging out with his friend Chloe and helping out with Fariza, a newly arrived foster child. But when a stranger named Phil arrives on the island with disturbing news about his birth family—including a troubled younger brother—Sid leaves all that is familiar to help find the sibling he didn’t know existed.
What he discovers is a family fractured by mental illness, but also united by strong bonds of love and compassion. As Sid searches for his brother, gets to know his grandmother, and worries about meeting his biological mother, he realizes that there will never be a simple answer to the question, Am I my brother’s keeper?
The World Without Us by Robin Stevenson
What do you do when someone you care about wants you to follow him to a really dark place? Do you pull away? Do you help plan the trip? Or do you put your own life on the line in the hope that love will coax your friend away from the precipice? When Mel meets Jeremy, she thinks she has finally found someone who understands her, someone who will listen to her, someone who cares. But Jeremy has secrets that torment him, and Mel isn’t sure she can save him from his demons. All she knows is that she has to save herself.
Set in Florida, against a backdrop of anti-death-penalty activism, The World Without Us examines one girl’s choices in a world where the stakes are very high and one misstep can hurt—or even kill—you.
Juggling Fire by Joanne Bell
Depression | Anxiety
Rachel’s idyllic existence with her family in the remote mountain passes of northern Yukon was shattered by her father’s depression, the family’s relocation to “town” and her father’s subsequent disappearance. Obsessed with understanding why her father never returned, Rachel hikes with her dog across mountain passes and along valleys to her childhood home. As she walks, she distracts herself from her anxiety by reinventing fairy tales remembered from her childhood. As the days pass, the imaginary quest begins to echo her own journey as she confronts danger, faces loneliness and unearths the truth about her father.
The Most Dangerous Thing by Leanne Lieberman
Depression | Anxiety
Sixteen-year-old Sydney hates to talk (or even think) about sex. She’s also fighting a secret battle against depression, and she’s sure she’ll never have a boyfriend. When her classmate Paul starts texting and sending her nature photos, she is caught off guard by his interest. Always uncomfortable with any talk about sex, Sydney is shocked when her extroverted sister, Abby, announces that she is going to put on The Vagina Monologues at school. Despite her discomfort, Sydney starts to reexamine her relationship with her body, and with Paul. But her depression worsens, and with the help of her friends, her family, a therapist and some medication, she grapples with what she calls the most dangerous thing about sex: female desire.
Publishes March 2017
Identify by Lesley Choyce
Anxiety | Panic Attacks
Ethan is an anxiety-ridden loner who relies on medication to get through his day. During one of his fairly frequent panic attacks, a girl from school named Gabriella comes to his rescue. Gabe, as she prefers to be known, is facing her own inner turmoil. She has always been a tomboy, but the more pressure she faces to act and dress “like a girl,” the more she wonders just who she really is.
When he learns that Gabe is being constantly harassed at school, Ethan discovers he is able to overcome his own fears in order to stand up for his new friend. Then Gabe finds a disturbing note in her locker, and the threats begin to escalate. Ethan confronts the person responsible, but things take an unexpected turn, and he suddenly finds himself being questioned by police, accused of assault. With a dose of courage and a surprising ally, the two friends come up with a plan to set things right and end up discovering who they really are along the way.
Publishes April 2017