Top Ten Tuesday: Books Dealing with Tough Issues

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

It was tough for me to think of ten books on tough subjects, mainly because I do not seek out such books. Usually the tough subject is a thread woven into the overarching story. Some of these may be obvious choices while other choices may make your brow furrow in puzzlement. Nevertheless, here are my top tough topic picks:

The Fault in Our Stars by John GreenWhy We Broke UpWords that Start with B by Vikki Vansickle

1. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green: This is my favourite tough topic book because it unflinchingly deals with the impossibly tough topic of dying young, and somehow manages to do so with humour. It also deals with the topics of first loves, second loves, family and friendship. It is a truly beautiful book.

2. Go Ask Alice by Anonymous: I was actually introduced to this book in my grade seven health class. It deals with peer pressure and the dizzying effects of drug use. To my young mind this book was terrifying, encouraging, and completely absorbing.

3. Words that Start with B by Vikki VanSickle: This book deals with many of the tough issues associated with middle-school and then some. Bullies, crushes, puberty… It also deals with the fear of a family member having cancer, something which hit especially close to home for me.

4. Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler: This beautiful book deals with the tough topic of first heart-break. I love that it offers readers a not-so-happy ending (which says a lot coming from a girl who adores her and-they-lived-happily-ever-afters).

5. The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series by Ann Brashares: There are a lot of tough topics going on beneath the “happy summer adventures” façade of this series: suicide, loss, changing friendships, first times, heart-break, family conflicts… the list goes on and on. But at the end of the day, friendship and love always wins out and that’s why I treasure this series.

The Stamp Collector by Jennifer LanthierVirginia WolfHarry Potter and the Philosopher's StoneLooking for AlaskaPeter Pan

6. The Stamp Collector by Jennifer Lanthier and illustrated by Francois Thisdale: This gorgeous picture book addresses the tough issue of the right of free speech. It encourages a dialogue about free speech issues facing countries around the world and that is why this book is so powerful.

7. Virginia Wolf by Kyo Maclear and illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault: Depression might not be something every child understands but this picture books makes a tough topic accessible to young readers through a story about two sisters, one who is in a wolfish mood.

8. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling: This might seem like an odd choice for this list but think about it: Harry must live with a family that does not appreciate him, that forces him to live in a cupboard, that bullies and mistreats him. He is a very lonely kid before he goes to Hogwarts. Then there are all of the other misfits who are bullied throughout the series: Ron, Hermione, Snape, Neville. This is a book (and series) that deals with quite a few tough topics when you look behind the magic.

9. Looking for Alaska by John Green: Green’s first book is a coming of age story and as such deals with many teen issues: loneliness, peer pressure, loss, depression. It is another book in which Green flawlessly weaves together the humour and tragedy of adolescence.

10. Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie: Perhaps another odd choice but it deals with the age-old fear of mortality. Hook spends his time trying to out-run the ticking crocodile and Peter Pan will not grow up. This book addresses the adolescent fear of adult responsibility and all that comes with it.

Which tough topic books make your list? Share your answers in comments.

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6 thoughts on “Top Ten Tuesday: Books Dealing with Tough Issues

  1. Interesting choice for Peter Pan, but I can see what you’re getting at with including it in your list. Great choices for the other books too!

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