One of the best things about the modern young adult literature scene is the increasingly diverse set of characters and stories. Yes, there’s still a lot of work to be done, but more than ever before, you can find protagonists who fall in all points on the LGBTQ spectrum; who come from a variety of ethnic, racial, religious and familial backgrounds; and who might have a physical disability or disease.
Or, as in the case of Fig in FIG by Sarah Elizabeth Schantz and Adam in THE UNLIKELY HERO OF ROOM 13B by Teresa Toten, have personal experience with mental disorders. Fig worries that she’ll develop schizophrenia just like her mother and begins to engage in various forms of self-harm, and Adam has OCD and joins a support group to learn to control it.
In honor of Mental Health Month, we did a candid joint interview with Sarah and Teresa where we asked them about the reasons they wrote their books, what they learned about mental health in the process and their advice for teens going through difficult issues of their own. On a lighter note, we also learned about their favorite characters, their writing routines and their writing advice (which, you’ll find, is shockingly similar!).
So read below, and afterwards, be sure to check out their books! For other recent books revolving around mental health, check out ONE THING STOLEN by Beth Kephart, SCHIZO by Nic Sheff, THE IMPOSSIBLE KNIFE OF MEMORY by Laurie Halse Anderson and CHALLENGER DEEP by Neal Shusterman. If you want to learn more about Mental Health Month, see the official site, here.
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