This week’s Top Five Wednesday topic was a bit on the serious side: Books About Hard Subject Matter.
After sitting down and talking it over for a bit, we realized that it wasn’t hard to come up with books for this list. In fact it was fairly easy. Hard subject matter was a fairly broad term, giving us a lot of genres and issues to work with. The books on this list each deal with one or more issues, none of them repeat.
We decided to limit our list mostly to teen fiction and new adult novels as an added boundary.
Top Five Wednesday is a book tag started by GingerReadsLainey. Join the goodreads group to get each week’s topic and participate yourselves!
1. NOUGHTS AND CROSSES – MALORIE BLACKMAN : RACISM
This is a book that throws racism in your face. The novel switches the positions. The Crosses are the privileged class and are people of colour while the Noughts (the white people) are looked down upon. At it’s very essence it’s a Romeo and Juliet retelling, following Sephy (a Cross) and Callum (a Nought). As the back of the book say:
In their world, Noughts and Crosses simply don’t mix. Against a background of prejudice and distrust, intensely highlighted by violent terrorist activity, a romance builds between Sephy and Callum — a romance that is to lead both of them into terrible danger. Can they possibly find a way to be together?
Both Chelsey and I really liked the first book, but as the series progressed they became more soap opera like. You should read the first book though. It’s a solid commentary on society filed with love and heartbreak. It made us both cry.
2. GO ASK ALICE – ANONYMOUS: DRUGS & DRUG ABUSE
This book was intense. Go Ask Alice presented as an actual diary and marketed to match. For the longest time people thought that this was a true story. It came out in the last ten or so years that diary is a piece of fiction, but it still gets a message across. Especially if you’re a twelve year old kid, who has no sense of reality. This is a book that’ll scare a kid straight and promise to whoever has exposed them to it that they will never do drugs. Looking back now, Alice is a little overdone and preachy. Yet it made me feel things as a kid but stuck with me to today.
3. BUMPED – MEGAN MCCAFFERTY: TEEN PREGNANCY
Bumped doesn’t deal with teen pregnancy in the way you would think a book marketed towards teens would deal with teen pregnancy. Instead it takes teen pregnancy and puts it in the context of a future world where the birth rates have declined and only people under the age of twenty are capable of getting pregnant. It’s normal for teenage girls to get pregnant and have a kid, possibly getting payed or sponsored for having babies. Bumped looks at how we treat women and attitudes towards sex. For a book that deals with a very dicey subject, its presented in a fun, slightly campy way.
Chelsey filmed a review on Bumped and you can watch it here.
4. WHEN A MONSTER CALLS – PATRICK NESS: GRIEF & LOSS
This book royally messed with me and the reason for that is solely based off the time I read it. When a Monster Calls deals with a little kid who’s mother is dying of cancer and just how he is internalizing everything. This kid wants his mom to live but at the same time he can’t deal with her suffering. He wants it to be over and he finds himself wishing that she was dead, which makes him feel even worse. I read this book when my grandmother was terminally ill and was a good example of a lot of the emotions and pain that I was dealing with. The book presents these really dark and all consuming feelings in a very clever way, making it relatable to both kids and adults a like.
5. THE OCEAN AT THE END OF THE LANE – NEIL GAIMAN: LOSS OF INNOCENCE & GROWING UP
It’s kind of weird to say that this book deals with hard subject matter when what it actually deals with is what it’s like to grown up and how one relates to their childhood. Growing up and loss of innocence is something that a lot of books deal with, it’s unbelievably common. Yet there is something very serious in the way that it is presented in Ocean that makes you stop and think. It manages to try and capture the tragedy that is the loss of innocence and then goes on to address how as you get older you become more unaware of what it was like being a child. It’s something that you can’t gain back and something that you will never understand again. Ocean gets across this sense of loss that is very personal. You feel like you yourself have lost something.
There is no easy way to describe this book. It’s one that you need to sit back and reflect on how it made you feel. You could probably come back to this book a few years later and come out of it feeling something completely different.
As we filmed this list we came up with a bunch of other books that would have classified for this list like An Inconvenient Indian by Thomas King or the current run of Ms Marvel.
What books do you think best deal with hard subject matter? Tell us about them in the comments below. Until next week, happy reading.