Our featured author, Gayle Forman, writes teen and young adult novels which focus on their struggles with mental health. That is why I chose to feature her this month for Mental Health Awareness.
Gayle Forman’s writing career started with writing articles for Seventeen magazine. Her focus was on teens and social issues. She continued those themes into the many books she has written since. Forman has written books in multiple genres, but there are a couple of her young adult ones I would like to feature here.
Two of her most popular books come from her If I Stay series. Those two books, If I Stay and Where She Went I read back to back a couple of years ago and had a hard time putting them down. According to Gayle Forman’s website, to story focuses on the main character, Mia, who is in an auto accident with her family that placed her into a coma. As she is swaying between life and death, she tells the reader about her thoughts and feelings. In Where She Went, the reader learns about how her story plays out.
In this series, we get Mia’s feelings of sorrow, loneliness, affection and love and the weight the decision of living or dying has put on her. Forman shows us the decision being made from the perspective of a teen age girl., who doesn’t have the life experience to draw on for this decision. She has so much of her life left to live, but is given an anxiety producing choice, which affects her mental health and her future.
I really enjoyed both reads. Forman writes books with very engaging and relatable characters and story lines. But when we look at the themes she is writing about, it gives us another thing to think about as we read her books. The importance of talking about teen mental health and the issues they may be facing.
The book I Was Here
I recently finished reading I Was Here, one of Gayle Forman’s stand alone young adult novels. It is the story about Cody, who loses her best friend suddenly to suicide. Cody dives into her friend Meg’s computer and learns about the path she walked down to learn about how she wound up killing herself.
Meg suffered from depression, which Cody wasn’t aware of. As we are talking about teen metal health issues this month, it struck a chord in me that even with Meg being her best friend, she didn’t know everything about her. How do we help people when they hold secrets from us?
The effects of Meg’s action also create mental health issues for her family and those closest to her.
If you have been wanting to learn more Gayle Foreman and her books, here are a couple of links
Link to the author If you want to learn more about the author, here is a link to her website Gayle Forman
Link to the book If you want to purchase I Was Here or any of her other books, here is a link to the books page of her website Gayle Forman Books
What do her books teach us about Teen Mental Health?
As I read her books, I can relate to the teen and young adult characters and understand the issues they are facing.
Teens deal with a lot of anxiety over navigating issues they face growing up. Mia’s choices became forced by her situation. And they were ones she had to make on her own with little life experience to guide her.
The internet holds a lot of information for teens to dive into. Some of it is true, some of it is false. If teens are looking for answers to support their position (whether it be good for them or bad for them) they can find it on the internet. Meg was able to find a way out of her depression by finding someone outside her circle to help her.
I really enjoyed both reads. Forman writes books with very engaging and relatable characters and story lines. But when we look at the themes she is writing about, it gives us another thing to think about. The importance of talking about teen mental health and the issues they may be facing.
What can we do?
Everyday I read about another teen who has committed suicide. Each situation is unique to the people involved. Some of these teens are dealing with the pressure of being an athlete or are being bullied at school. Some are even struggling to make decisions for themselves and their future.
I feel that many of these situations may have been prevented if the teen felt comfortable reaching out to someone close to them. As parents and caring adults, let’s make ourselves available to help teens sort out how they are feeling. In many cases with teen suicide, we don’t know that anything was wrong until after they die, when it is too late to deal with what was wrong.
So, make a plan this week to check in with your teen. Start creating that safe place for them to share what might be on their minds. Teen Mental Health Matters.
*Gayle Forman Photo credit from www.ourdailyread.com