TTT: Top Ten (or Seventeen) Books That Would Be On Your Syllabus If You Taught YA Tough Stuff 101

cd680-tttThis feature is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

It’s time to go back to school! Today’s topic is books that would be on our syllabus if we taught a certain subject. Mine is of course YA Tough Stuff. I’m sure most of you aren’t that shocked.

Mental Health Issues
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LGBT
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Sexual Assault/Sexual Abuse
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Upcoming Releases
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What books would you have on the syllabus if you were teaching a class?

I’m not crazy

Get ready for a very personal post.

I recently read Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone, and I wanted to talk more about my OCD/mental health issues. I didn’t really get into those issues in the review, but I wanted to expand on it.

I’ve had OCD for over fifteen years. It manifested itself in typical ways. I constantly moved things so they were in the right place. I washed my hands frequently. I figured it was because of my health issues. So I didn’t worry about it too much.

And then came the obsession with the number 16. That started right around my sixteenth birthday. Odd coincidence? Well that’s what I thought at the time.  Before I knew it, I would eat M&Ms in groups of sixteen. Pistachios, cashews and other snack types of foods would all be eaten in groups of 16. Anything else, I always did in groups of sixteens. Brushing my hair, teeth etc.

In 2005, I had my 5th open heart surgery and as per doctors orders, I met with a psychologist to make sure I was handling some post surgery complications okay. Then I talked to her about my obsessions that had been growing since I was sixteen. She just brushed it off as something not to be worried about.

After that, I really saw no reason to see another psychologist. I didn’t want to be told not to worry about this again.

My issues settled down for a long time. I would still have obsessions about various things, especially the number 16. I still washed my hands frequently, At dinnertime, I would eat one thing at a time. I hate, HATE when my food touches other foods.

But when the breakup happened last fall, everything came rushing back. Add to that, I was having symptoms of depression. I hated having those feelings. I hated KNOWING that my jackass ex had the power to make my self-esteem hit rock bottom. I went to therapy because I just wasn’t dealing with things well. I never mentioned my OCD issues. I mostly wanted to get help with my self-esteem issues.

The obsessions just got worse.

I just felt like I was crazy and that was terrifying for me.

But when I read Every Last Word, it felt like everything just clicked for me. The OCD issues started to make more sense. I started realizing that my obsessive thoughts & my constant overthinking were a part of OCD. I never even thought they could be.

That book was so helpful to me. It made me feel more comfortable with myself and my issues. It was more healing to me than I had ever expected it to be.

Most importantly, I learned that I’m not crazy.

A thousand thank yous to the amazing Tamara Ireland Stone for this book. I don’t think I could ever repay you for the healing that your book has given me.

Review: Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone

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Book Title: Every Last Word
Author: Tamara Ireland Stone
Published Date: June 16th, 2015
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Genre: YA Contemporary
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Book Link: Goodreads
Purchase Links: AmazonBarnes & NobleThe Book Depository

Synopsis from Goodreads
If you could read my mind, you wouldn’t be smiling.

Samantha McAllister looks just like the rest of the popular girls in her junior class. But hidden beneath the straightened hair and expertly applied makeup is a secret that her friends would never understand: Sam has Purely-Obsessional OCD and is consumed by a stream of dark thoughts and worries that she can’t turn off.

Second-guessing every move, thought, and word makes daily life a struggle, and it doesn’t help that her lifelong friends will turn toxic at the first sign of a wrong outfit, wrong lunch, or wrong crush. Yet Sam knows she’d be truly crazy to leave the protection of the most popular girls in school. So when Sam meets Caroline, she has to keep her new friend with a refreshing sense of humor and no style a secret, right up there with Sam’s weekly visits to her psychiatrist.

Caroline introduces Sam to Poet’s Corner, a hidden room and a tight-knit group of misfits who have been ignored by the school at large. Sam is drawn to them immediately, especially a guitar-playing guy with a talent for verse, and starts to discover a whole new side of herself. Slowly, she begins to feel more “normal” than she ever has as part of the popular crowd . . . until she finds a new reason to question her sanity and all she holds dear.

Disclaimer: I received this e-ARC from Disney Hyperion via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

Review
Oh my god. I think my feels are dead. This book wrecked me in the best possible way. I don’t talk about this much, but I have OCD and until I started this book, I had no idea that my obsessive thoughts, my obsessions over the number 16, and my constant overthinking of things was part of OCD.

I thought I was genuinely crazy and that was utterly terrifying.

I loved Sam. She was raw, real and awesome. She was so resistant to being different, to showing weakness in front of anyone outside of her psychiatrist or her family.

No one knew the real her. Not the friends she had known since kindergarten, not the people she swam with.

Not until she met Caroline and the rest of Poet’s Corner. AJ, Sydney, Emily, Cameron, Jessica, Chelsea and Abigail are all part of this thing. They come to be better friends in just a few months than her other friends have been in twelve years. She is able to be the real Sam with them.

I was really curious to see how things would progress with AJ and Sam. Especially considering how Sam’s superficial friends treated him when they were just in grade school. I was worried that AJ would still hold a grudge about that. Thankfully he handled it well.

The ending was crazy-pants. I was utterly stunned at certain events that took place at the end of this book. Certain things happened in this book that I never expected. If you’ve read the book, I’d love to know if you guessed the twist.

This book was gorgeous, heartbreaking and it left me emotionally spent, half sobbing, half hyperventilating. I loved this book and I think it needs to be in all high school classrooms. It’s such an important book. I’ll be giving it 5 stars.

Top Ten (Okay Twenty) Diverse YA Contemporary Books

Top Ten Books I've Read So Far In 2015This feature is hosted by the ladies of The Broke and the Bookish.

Today’s prompt was all about celebrating diversity. Now, I’m all for that, so of course I had to jump right into it.

LGBT Books
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Not Otherwise Specified by Hannah Moskowitz
-There are so few bisexual main characters in books that I had to put this one on the list even though I haven’t finished it-
Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
-My favorite LGBT book of the year so far. Simon & Blue were ADORABLE-
Far From You by Tess Sharpe
-One of my favorite books of 2014. Yet another bisexual main character-
Under the Lights (Daylight Falls #2) by Dahlia Adler
-I’ve heard that Van & Bri are all kinds of sexy, so I cannot wait to read this-
The Summer I Wasn’t Me by Jessica Verdi
-Still my favorite Jessica Verdi book. It was a hard book to read, but so, so important-
One Man Guy by Michael Barakiva
-I loved this book. It was different as there was a lot of emphasis on Armenian culture, which I loved-

Eating Disorders/OCD/Anxiety/Mental Illness Books
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Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson
-I have not read this one yet, but I have it out from the library right now. Hopefully I can get to it soon-
Paperweight by Meg Haston
-I absolutely adored this book. It was beautiful, heartbreaking and hopeful-
Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone
-I have an e-ARC of this. I started to read it last month, but it was so triggering, I had to put it back down-
Made You Up by Francesca Zappia
-Utterly beautiful book. Captivating characters, story and loads of feels-
The Half Life of Molly Pierce by Katrina Leno
-One of my all time favorite books. It was awesome and heartbreaking-
My Heart and Other Black Holes by Jasmine Warga
-One of my favorite books of 2015. This book made me feel all the feels-

Books about Rape/Sexual Assault
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Pointe by Brandy Colbert
-This book is the book I routinely recommend to everyone. Such a gorgeous book-
All The Rage by Courtney Summers
-This book enraged me in the best possible way-
Fault Line by Christa Desir
-I adored this book, I think mostly because it didn’t end neatly. It showed a different side to what happens to rape victims-
Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
-I need to read this book. I cannot believe I haven’t read it yet-
Faking Normal by Courtney C. Stevens
-One of my favorite books of 2014. It was beautiful, feelsy and heartwarming-

Books that feature disabled characters
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 Summer on the Short Bus by Bethany Crandell
-This book was so much fun. I related to it in a way I wasn’t expecting-
Say What You Will by Cammie McGovern
-I was thrilled to read this book. There really is so few books out there featuring physically disabled characters-
The Summer of Chasing Mermaids by Sarah Ockler
-I have not read this book yet, but I think I probably should. It does look like something I’d enjoy-

If you did a TTT post this week, be sure to leave me links so I can stop by your posts as well.

Review: Where The Stars Still Shine by Trish Doller

Book Title: Where The Stars Still Shine
Author: Trish Doller
Release Date: September 24th, 2013
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Genre: YA/ Contemporary
Standalone
Book Link: Goodreads
Synopsis from Goodreads:
Stolen as a child from her large and loving family, and on the run with her mom for more than ten years, Callie has only the barest idea of what normal life might be like. She’s never had a home, never gone to school, and has gotten most of her meals from laundromat vending machines. Her dreams are haunted by memories she’d like to forget completely. But when Callie’s mom is finally arrested for kidnapping her, and Callie’s real dad whisks her back to what would have been her life, in a small town in Florida, Callie must find a way to leave the past behind. She must learn to be part of a family. And she must believe that love–even with someone who seems an improbable choice–is more than just a possibility.

Trish Doller writes incredibly real teens, and this searing story of love, betrayal, and how not to lose your mind will resonate with readers who want their stories gritty and utterly true.

Disclaimer: I bought this book with my birthday money.

Review:
Oh my goodness, this story was beautiful and full of those all important feels. I was hoping that I wouldn’t be disappointed by this book and I wasn’t. It was beautifully written from start to finish. This was the first Trish Doller book that I have ever read but it absolutely will not be my last.

Callie has been on the run with her mother since she was little, so the only loyalty she feels is to her mother. Yet when her mother is finally arrested for kidnapping, Callie is forced to go live with a father she doesn’t remember and her two half brothers and stepmom, Phoebe.In Florida she also meets her cousin Kat, who is part of this huge Greek family that Callie doesn’t remember.

She isn’t ready to just abandon all thoughts of her mother and change her loyalties to her father and stepmom. Yet she cannot deny that it feels good to belong somewhere. It feels good knowing that people care about her and don’t want her running around by herself. It isn’t until she meets Phoebe’s brother, Alex, that she begins to realize that all guys aren’t like the ones she knew before.

Alex isn’t the guy who stole her innocence at 8 years old. It takes Callie awhile to believe that there are good guys out there and that every guy isn’t just after one thing. I know a lot pf people had issues with both her attitude and how she kinda just slept with any guy who wanted her.She had very little experience with guys. After all the only guys she would meet were the middle-aged pervs that leered at her.

Her attitude towards sex was pretty cavalier but I think the experience with her mother’s boyfriend had really screwed up her self esteem. Being with Alex actually raised her self esteem. By the end of the book, she knew that she deserved better. She knew that she was worth something.Watching that transformation in Callie was something really special.

I loved Alex. I mean he was wonderful and sweet and kind to Callie. My favorite part between them was near the end when she told him exactly what had happened to her. He didn’t look at her any differently. He didn’t view her as “trash” or “dirty” or “sick” He saw the same girl. He saw Callie exactly as she deserved to be seen. What he did for his mother in the end was beautiful and I cried. He had his own demons but he was able to put them aside for his mother. A guy who is devoted to his mother is something special.

While this book was pretty damn near perfection, there were lulls in the book. Parts that didn’t exactly bore me but were on the slow side. I guess that was a good thing as it gave me time to dry the tears that showed up.I really enjoyed this book and it’s seriously on the cusp of love for me. So it’s getting 4.5 stars. A near PERFECT read for me. I would absolutely recommend it to pretty much anyone.