Thematic Reading List: Dealing with Illness


It is hard enough watching a loved one fight an illness; it can be even harder to fight illness on one’s own. With illness an inevitability in human society, many turn to books to help manage the emotions that accompany personal or external trauma. When reading about someone else’s experience, even if it is a fictional character, humans can better empathize and process the emotions they feel in their own life. This book list includes a selection of fiction novels about teenage characters living with a variety of illnesses. It also includes several non-fiction titles to help teenage readers learn more about managing illnesses on their own. These books are best suited for readers aged 13-17.
Contributed by: Mary Lanni




picturemessage_wkkrxzm2.xhk Before I Die
By: Jenny Downham

A terminally ill teenaged girl makes and carries out a list of things to do before she dies.
1481534726 Challenger Deep
By: Neal Shusterman

As he struggles with schizophrenia, a teenage boy believes he is on a journey to reach the bottom of Challenger Deep, the deepest place on Earth.
9781770850996 Easy for You to Say: Q & As for Teens Living with Chronic Illness or Disability
By: Miriam Kaufman

A book of advice for teenagers with a wide range of illnesses–including cancer, asthma, spina bifida, and cerebral palsy–as well as those who are visually or hearing-impaired or HIV-positive. It also answers questions on such subjects as growing up, sex, and drugs.
9780553496642 Everything, Everything
By: Nicola Yoon

The story of a teenage girl who’s literally allergic to the outside world. When a new family moves in next door, she begins a complicated romance that challenges everything she’s ever known. The narrative unfolds via vignettes, diary entries, texts, charts, lists, illustrations, and more.
9780374305475 Fear of Missing Out
By: Kate McGovern

Despite the loving intentions of her mother and boyfriend, sixteen-year-old Astrid wants to make the decisions about her life and death when her cancer returns, including exploring the possibility of cryopreservation.
9781575422725 Forever Hellos, Hard Good-Byes
By: Axel Dahlberg and Janis Russell Love

When facing a life-challenging or even terminal illness, it’s all about being normal. That’s what kids and teens want for themselves and from the people around them. With wit, wisdom, and courage, young people ages 7–21 tell in their own words what it’s like to be ill while trying to live each minute of their daily lives. Their true stories offer hope and insight to anyone touched by serious illness; their advice is of value to all those who know, love, and treat young people with illnesses or disabilities. For families, friends, classmates, and teachers of affected children and teens; for colleges that offer classes in disability studies; and for doctors and hospitals who want to share hope with their patients.
9780312581480 Get Well Soon
By: Julie Halpern

When her parents confine her to a mental hospital, an overweight teenage girl, who suffers from panic attacks, describes her experiences in a series of letters to a friend.
1499436939 Living with an Illness in the Family
By: Tabitha Wainwright and Viola Jones

Family structures are shaken up by illness. Whether the illness is short- or long-term, whether it’s expected or a shock, routines change, and family members take on new duties. The illness of a parent may mean that money is tight. Kids might have to pitch in, cook meals, and clean the house while maintaining their schoolwork and other responsibilities. They may receive less attention from their parents or feel guilty for being healthy. This resource addresses the practical changes that result when a family member falls ill and guides readers through the emotional process of dealing with the illness of a loved one.
9780374349462 Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac
By: Gabrielle Zevin

After a nasty fall, Naomi realizes that she has no memory of the last four years and finds herself reassessing every aspect of her life.
1622312104 Somebody Up There Hates You
By: Hollis Seamon

Seventeen-year-old prankster Richard Casey, who is dying of cancer in a hospice, has big plans for his final days.
0399544992 Ten Miles One Way
By: Patrick Downes

In the wake of a near-fatal car accident, Isaac Kew, twenty, recalls a very long walk he took three years earlier with his bipolar girlfriend, Nest.
9781515912194 A World Without You
By: Beth Revis

After the unexpected loss of his girlfriend, a teenage boy suffering from delusions is convinced that he can travel through time to save her.


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