5 Must Read YA Books for BIPOC Mental Health Month

July 09, 2022

By Michi Sosa

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*Trigger warning: These books deal with suicide, anxiety, and depression. If you or someone you know is struggling with suicide ideation, please find help or speak to a trained crisis counselor via Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741.

In celebration of Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) Mental Health Month, I invite you to check out these below books that center on BIPOC voices, amplify mental health resources for the BIPOC community, and take care of your own mental health by reading some of the YA books below!

If any of these books interest you, I encourage you to find a local book shop near you + check out the authors of these books on Instagram!

1. When The Stars Lead To You by Ronnie Davis – In this first-love romance, 18-year-old Devon meets Ashton – the boy of her dreams –  one summer only to be torn apart by prejudice and mental illness. At the start of her senior year in which she plans to explore a future studying stars and science, Ashton shows up to her school as the new kid, and the two meet again. This emotionally gripping book explores mental health in a relationship and what it means to be in love and support someone whose struggling.

 

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A post shared by Ronni Davis✨ (@lilrongal)

2.This Is My Brain in Love by I.W. Gregorio – Jocelyn Wu wants to make it through her junior year without dying of boredom, direct a short film with her best friend Priya Venkatram, and to stop being compared to or confused with Peggy Chang, the only other Chinese girl in her grade. Then Jocelyn’s father tells her their family restaurant may be going under, and a new restaurant employee – Will – may be the one to help them save it. As Jocelyn and Will explore their relationship, they also journey through their own mental health and the stigma associated with it.

 

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A post shared by I.W. Gregorio (@iwgregorio)

 

3. Anger is a Gift by Mark Oshiro – After his father is killed by Oakland Police, the lack of accountability leads sophomore student Moss in crippling panic attacks and fear. Once the police become stationed in his school’s halls, Moss and the students decide to organize and push back against the administration. In doing so, Moss must either give in to his fear or realize that anger can actually be a gift.

 

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A post shared by Mark Oshiro (@markdoesstuff) 

 

4. The Astonishing Color of After by Emily X.R. Pan – After her mom dies by suicide, Leigh Chen Sanders is convinced her mom turned into a bird. As she goes to Taiwan to meet her grandparents and find this bird, Leigh struggles with feelings of grief as she tries to reconcile the fact that on the same day she kissed her best friend and longtime secret crush, her mom was taking her life.

 

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A post shared by Emily X.R. Pan (@exrpan)

5. An Emotion of Great Delight by Tahereh Mafi – The author of this book takes readers back to the months immediately following 9/11 when the US declared war on Iraq. The main character – Shadi –  tries to navigate the prejudice and bullying  by soldiering through, saying nothing. She devours her own pain, each day retreating farther and farther into loneliness. This book confronts issues of mental health, suicidality, racism, and empowers readers to reclaim their right to self-joy.

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