I’m always looking for books that I feel represent my anxiety and OCD in the most authentic, realistic way possible. Some of my favorite books are Turtles All the Way Down by John Green and Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone because I could truly see myself in the characters they portrayed. It’s so hard to find books that make me feel this way, though.
This summer, I set myself a challenge of reading books with these two representations to potentially find a new favorite read. I asked for recommendations on Twitter, and I chose five books that I was the most interested in. I documented my thoughts along the way, and I was pleasantly surprised as well (mostly).
Here are my thoughts on those five books:
The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness:
This was the first book that I read, and unfortunately, I started off at a not-so-great point. I gave this book 3 stars. It was just extremely average to me. I was actually even a bit confused during some points of the story, especially in the beginning, which also hindered my enjoyment.
Nothing stuck out, and the OCD representation was lacking for me. It just didn’t feel like the best representation, but I can only speak from my experience with the MI. One thing that I really appreciated was its diversity in the characters.
Rating: 3 stars
Final Draft by Riley Redgate:
Things definitely went up after that first read, though. I was initially really scared to read this book. I have wanted to read it ever since it came out because, duh, it’s a book about writing. I’m a reader, but I’m also a writer, so getting to combine those two? Incredible. But, my expectations were set really high, so I was worried that I would be disappointed.
Luckily, I wasn’t. I loved the writing style of this book. It was done really well, and I found myself underlining so many quotes that I enjoyed. The cast of characters is also so diverse. The main character, Laila, is pansexual, biracial, and plus-size, and she also deals with anxiety. I loved the representation of MI in this one. It hit very close to home, and I related to Laila in so many other ways, too.
What I really loved is that Laila has many flaws. She is not a perfect character by any means. She goes through many changes from beginning to end of the book as she struggles with her writing. I appreciate the way her character was done. It didn’t sugarcoat anything. But, this is definitely not a book for everyone, especially if you don’t like character-driven books.
TW: death, depression, anxiety
Rating: 5 stars
You Asked for Perfect by Laura Silverman:
The next book I read was another really incredible one. I have never related to a book more in my life. I have been an ambitious person my entire life. I have always dreamed of my future college & career over boys & cool experiences like most of my friends.
But the pressure students face is insane. It can be extremely draining and stressful. I cried during this book because it got me thinking about my own high school experience & how much I hated it because of the expectations my school placed on its students. I was so unhappy for 4 years because I felt like I was suffocating the entire time.
The anxiety that Ariel struggles with as a student is SO RELATABLE. That feeling where “you think you constantly need to be doing work and if you’re not then you’re a failure” is very true.
I do wish this book had been a little longer so that some of the scenes could have been a bit more fleshed out. But it was so beautiful & very true to my competitive high school experience.
Rating: 5 stars
Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia:
This book I’m still a little torn on. The anxiety representation was amazing. Again, it felt super realistic, and that is the main factor I look for in MI representation. However, it took me a really long time to get into. I have never been as big into fandoms as Eliza is, so the entire time I found myself struggling to connect to that aspect. And it’s the entire plot of the story.
But, I did really like the characters and I think this was a super unique story. Also, it has illustrations inside which just added so much life to story for me.
Rating: 4 stars
Four Weeks, Five People by Jennifer Yu:
The final book was actually suggested to me by EmmmaBooks. I’m sure you all know Emma on Youtube. She is one of my favorite booktubers ever. I trust her opinions and recommendations for books with MI representation, so when I saw this book, I knew I wanted to read it.
I had actually never heard of it prior to this, so I went in completely blind.
There was so much representation in this one. It follows five different characters who suffer from different MI and are all taken to a camp for a “wilderness treatment experience” over the summer. This book gave me representation for OCD and anxiety, as well as depression, narcissistic personality disorder, anorexia, and dissociation.
While I can only speak to the OCD and anxiety, the rep was so realistic. I could truly feel the pain and emotions that all 5 of these teens were going through. It doesn’t sugar coat mental illness; it tells it how it is.
It also doesn’t have an unrealistic “everything gets better and they all live happily ever after” ending. I really appreciate the way this book handles the subject matter, and I’m so happy I got to experience it and these characters.
TW: the above mentioned MIs, panic attacks, suicide/self harm, and possibly more.
Rating: 4 stars
I’d say in order from my favorite book to least favorite, this is how it’d go:
- You asked for Perfect
- Final Draft
- Four Weeks, Five People
- Eliza and Her Monsters
- The Rest of Us Just Live Here
That is all for today! I hope you enjoyed this post and maybe found some new books to add to your TBR. If you have any recommendations for other books with mental illness representation, please leave them in the comments below.
See you tomorrow!