by Kiersten Frost, Bookseller
Take it from someone who was homeschooled on a rural farmstead: when you’re a teenager just beginning to get a taste of the independence that adults enjoy, isolation is gutting. If you have a teen at home, they may be feeling helpless, angry, or overwhelmed, even if they seem all right (or at least passive) at the dinner table. This is not normal, as the new adage goes, and that's just as true for them as it is for us.
When I was grappling with those same feelings as a teen, I turned to books. I craved the escapism of fantasy novels and the frank, validating voices of what would become the Young Adult genre. Books helped me process the emotions I had deemed too messy, confusing, or ugly to confront directly, especially not out loud. (Talking to an adult? Mortifying.) Books offered a chance to understand myself at an age when teenagers generally believe that no one ever could.
Now, more than ever, I think it’s important to embrace the power that stories have to help us feel seen and acknowledged in a world that seems more isolating than ever before.
I’ve selected the following books not because they are all cheerful, funny, or distracting—although plenty of them are!—but because they all offer a different outlet for what a teen might be feeling, and however they might want to work through it. All of these books were written for a teen audience:
In Other Lands
The Apocalypse of Elena Mendoza
This book is the ideal distraction, and nothing can get you out of your own head better than a good mystery to solve.
Content Note: This novel includes discussions of difficult topics such as sexual assault, physical abuse, alcoholism, and the death of a child.