Young Adult Novels Exploring Depression: Background information when reading The Memory of Light

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The Memory of Light

by Francisco X. Stork

The Memory of Light by Francisco X. Stork X
The Memory of Light by Francisco X. Stork
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  • First Published:
    Jan 2016, 336 pages
    Paperback:
    Aug 2017, 336 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Sarah Tomp

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About this Book

Beyond the Book:
Young Adult Novels Exploring Depression

Print Review

According to Suicide Awareness Voices of Education (SAVE), suicide is the second leading cause of death in people 15-24 years of age, and ranks tenth when considering all ages. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that in the United States, eight percent of all people over the age of twelve suffer from depression in any two-week period. Although females are more likely to experience a major bout, males' related suicide attempts are more likely to end in death.

In addition to The Memory of Light, several recently published books for teens explore the issues of depression and suicide in teens.

YA books addressing depression

All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven
Told in alternating points of view, this tells the tragic love story of two depressed teens, Finch and Violet who meet, literally on the edge of suicide. It contrasts the situational depression of Violet, consumed with grief over her sister's death, with that of Finch's fight with major depression, most likely caused by a chemical imbalance.

My Heart and Other Black Holes by Jasmine Warga
Aysel and Roman meet online, and then in person, through a "Suicide Partners" website. Aysel lives—tenuously—under the shadow of her father's violent act, and is consumed with the fear that she too has a dark and irrevocably broken spot within while Roman is grieving over a family tragedy. Their friendship and developing romance is based on their mutual guilt and a promise to commit suicide together.

The Cost Of All Things by Maggie Lehrman
Told in multiple viewpoints of friends, Ari, Win, Markos and Kay, this realistic fantasy novel touches on one person's struggle with mental health issues. Although magic spells are central to the plot, this is a compelling look at the repercussions depression and suicide have on loved ones. Particularly poignant are the views of depression as a teen's source of identity.

Romancing the Dark In the City of Light by Ann Jacobus
Summer Barnes, depressed and struggling with alcohol abuse, moves to Paris and is soon flirting and connecting with two boys, Moony and Kurt. Moony encourages her to embrace life and find joy in each day while Kurt supports her more self-destructive behaviors. Tinged with magical realism, the surprising twist offers a unique look at depression and suicide.

When Reason Breaks by Cindy L. Rodriguez
Two girls, Emily and Elizabeth, struggling with depression, are in the same English class and connect over the poetry of Emily Dickinson. The story begins with the attempted suicide of one girl, and unravels the questions of which one and why.

It's Kind Of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini
Like The Memory of Light, this story is based on the author's own experience with depression and experience in a treatment facility. Published in 2005, this is the story of Craig who is on the search for happiness within the confines of a hospital. Tragically, the author's suicide in 2013 speaks as a real-life reminder that there is no easy solution or cure for major depression.

Article by Sarah Tomp

This article was originally published in February 2016, and has been updated for the August 2017 paperback release. Click here to go to this issue.

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