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Features | YA books that deal with real world issues


As much as I love escaping into fantasy worlds far different from the real one, some of my favourite books are those which deal with real world issues. Not only do they make really interesting, thought provoking reads but they are so important, as it provides a way of educating people on certain topics that may not necessarily be discussed in society often as they can be difficult to talk about.
Trigger warning: This post will discuss the following topics: Suicide, rape, abusive relationships, eating disorders, racism, teenage pregnancy and gay relationships. 

Suicide
There seem to be quite a lot of YA books on this topic, but the most notable is Jay Asher's 13 reasons why. Hannah has just committed suicide, but she leaves 13 tapes saying why she decided to kill herself, which is what the book centres around. This is definitely a book I would recommend reading twice. The first time I struggled to understand her motives for killing herself,as none of the reasons seemed that bad on their own, but the second time it was much easier to see how they all fitted together. I think everyone should read this book, as it really makes you think about the way you treat people. and how things that seem insignificant to you could really hurt someone else. Although it is completely fictional, it was very realistic. Another really good book that centres around suicide is Random by Tom Levine. A short book, but also thought provoking none the less. For a different perspective, Love letters to the dead by Ava Dellaria is an interesting read. Unlike the other two, it focuses less on suicide itself and more on the after effects, as it is told from the perspective of a girl who committed suicide's sister.


Rape and abusive relationships
Just listen
by Sarah Dessen is a good read for looking at the topic of rape.Although it's not the main focus of the book, but it does play an important role in the story. I particularly like this book because it doesn't go into too much detail about the rape itself, but instead focuses on the after effects, making it appropriate for younger readers. Anorexia is also discussed a fair amount in the book. The topic of abusive relationships is covered in Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell. Again, it's not the main focus of the book, but it is covered, as one of the families is affected by a manipulative and abusive person.

Teenage pregnancy
I think this is one of the most important topics that teenagers need to be aware of and educated about, because in a lot of cases it's very easily preventable. One of my favourite books is Boys don't cry by Malorie Blackman. This doesn't deal with the pregnancy itself, but describes what happens when Dante is told about a baby he didn't know he had and is left to look after it completely on his own. This book is very original, as stereotypically people would expect the mum to be the one dumped with the child, and I think that is what makes it such an amazing book. It also has a gay character and focuses on some of prejudices faced by gay people. Another good read is Trouble by Non Pratt (I'm sure that has to be a fake name but it amuses me nonetheless). Fairly light-hearted considering the subject matter, but a very entertaining book.

Racism
Noughts and crosses
, another one by Malorie Blackman, is the main one for this category. Despite being set in a fictional world, where white people are heavily discriminated against and black people are seen as superior, it has a lot of parallels with the real world If you like books with a lot of action, this is great read.

Eating disorders
Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson is a fantastic book. It is told from the perspective of someone with anorexia. Whilst I can not say if this is authentic or not, having never experience Anorexia myself, it seems like it gives a good insight into what it might like to have the disease, and it also discusses bulimia as well. If you like plot heavy stories you might not enjoy this as it focuses a lot of Lia's (the mains character) thoughts and feelings, but for me that was one of the reasons I enjoyed it so much.

Gay relationships
I couldn't do this entire post without mentioning a John Green book. Will Grayson Will Grayson, which he co wrote with David Levithan, is by far the most light hearted and fun reads in this list, and it is also my favourite book by John Green - controversial I know since everyone else seems to obsessed with TFIOS. I particularly liked this book because it 2 of the main characters are gay. One of them is how you'd imagine a stereotypical gay guy, the other is as far away from that as possible. The fact that it showed two different images and didn't just stick to the classic stereotype makes it a really good read. Plus, with not one but two amazing authors writing it, how could it possibly be bad?

Sorry for the very long post, my posts seem to be becoming extremely rambly (is that a word? Not according to spellcheck), so thanks for sticking around till the end!
Katie x

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