I feel like I’m always saying this, but it’s been TOO long since I’ve joined in on The Book Chat- since July 18th, actually! I told you it was too long. It’s never too late to become a part of it, you can always link up on Jessica’s blog The Tangerine.
Today’s topic: Books that tackle controversial topics/issues
I think there’s a bit of a trend for books to tackle controversial issues, just because it reads so much better than if it didn’t. I’m a big fan of these books because I think it’s important for writers to challenge a reader right down to their very belief system. Here are a few that have really changed me because of the topics the writer tackled:
1. Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult
If you’re not familiar, this particular novel of Picoult’s is about a school shooting. You read the story from the perspective of the shooter, his victims, his best friend, and his parents. It’s troubling, terrifying, and by the last page I felt like everything I thought to be true had been challenged. Jodi Picoult has a way of writing that has always deeply affected me, and this was the first of her books that I picked up, although definitely not the last!
2. 13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher
This YA novel is about a guy who receives a package on his doorstep filled with cassette tapes and a player for them. They are all recorded by a girl who committed suicide at his school, and she claims that if the person has received the package, they are one of the reasons she ended her life. The story follows the protagonist over the course of one night, as he discovers exactly what made her commit suicide, and exactly where his role came into all of this. I was not only completely captivated by this read, but it was SUCH an important message for teens.
3. Arranged by Catherine McKenzie
Definitely the lightest book on this list, Arranged is about a girl who can’t deal with “yet another breakup” and thinks all her problems are solved when she discovers an arranged marriage service exists in this modern age. It could be the answer to all her problems, or it could be the strangest thing she ever tries. Either way, the book is hilarious, and again tackles one of the issues in a modern society that I think is kind of “frowned upon”. I thought this was a really interesting take on it!
4. Tweak by Nic Sheff
Anything that has to do with drugs and teenagers tends to be very taboo. I know after working in a bookstore in the teen section for almost 5 years, parents don’t *like* the idea of their teens reading about other teens and their drug problems. This happens to be one of my favorite memoirs, and the fact that it’s written about a real teenager who suffers and overcomes his drug abuse problem is what makes it all the more memorable to me. Teens need to read success stories!
5. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
I read this book in the first few months of my job as a bookseller and immediately fell in love with this dark concept of a troubled world. Of course, now, it seems like almost everyone has read The Hunger Games, but when Scholastic first released it, NO ONE WANTED TO PICK UP A BOOK ABOUT KIDS KILLING EACH OTHER. Fair enough, right? I think this series is about so much more than that, and about how our society manages to make a mockery out of everything through live television. Despite the gory scenes, this is still one of my all time favorite controversial books!
What are your favorite controversial topic books?