Top 10 YA Books About Grief

Recently, I’ve found that a lot of the books I’m reading are united by one common underlying theme — grief. There’s something so raw and powerful about these books that means I can’t help but fall in love with the characters and feel as though I’m experiencing every heartfelt moment right beside them. Grief is a strange thing. It can work its way into every facet of your life, paining each smile and making your heart clench, even when you least expect it. Grief isn’t a thing that can be dealt with lightly, whether it be the grief of losing a family member, or a friend, or someone that meant the world to you. It’s these novels that I find leave a mark on me and find a home inside my heart. They say that books have the power to change you, and the novels I’ve read about grief and loss definitely have.

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1) History is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera

I wasn’t expecting to be as moved by this book as I was. Told from alternating times — History, and Now — this novel revolves around the impact and the lead-up to the death of Griffin’s first love and ex-boyfriend, Theo. Griffin’s grief was so raw and so genuine, and it reduced me to nothing more than a sobbing mess at the end. The writing was exceptional, the characters were vibrant and real, and each sentence was filled with a heartfelt yearning to bring back what was lost.Read More »

Coping with Grief in Healthy Ways

There’s no doubt that there’s an abundance of YA novels that revolve around a character’s grief, and their struggle to overcome it. These characters are often seen to fall into harmful ways of thinking or destructive patterns of behaviour, and this can show readers who might be impressionable and moulded by what they consume and that this is the “normal” way to deal with grief and hardship. Believing these things can not only be detrimental to the individual, but also highlight the need for authors to have a responsibility towards their readers. While I do believe that some “controversial” novels are valuable as they provide readers with alternate points of view and give a voice to the sides that may not be as heard in our society, it’s harmful to convey to readers that it’s “normal” to cope by means of self-harm of destructive behaviours. This is effectively what we are communicating to some readers by normalising these actions to the point that the lines between “healthy” and “unhealthy” are blurred.

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There Will Come a Time – book review

There Will Come a Time

There Will Come a Time is a touching and bittersweet novel, written by Carrie Arcos.

Mark knows grief. Ever since the accident that killed his twin sister, Grace, the only time he feels at peace is when he visits the bridge on which she died. Comfort is fleeting, but he feels like it’s almost within reach when he’s standing on the wrong side of the railing. Almost.

Grace’s best friend, Hanna, says she understands what he’s going through. But she doesn’t. She can’t. As her twin, Mark should have known Grace as well as he knows himself. Yet when he reads her journal, it’s as if he didn’t know her at all.

As a way to remember Grace, Hannah convinces Mark to complete Grace’s bucket list from her journal. Mark’s sadness, anger, and growing feelings for Hanna threaten to overwhelm him, but Mark can’t back out. He’s made a promise to honour Grace, and this is his one chance to set things right.

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There Will Come a Time was another one of those books about grief and death, but not one that should be overlooked. This book is ultimately about what makes us the person we are, and that was really interesting to read about. This book poses the question: if you lose your twin, do you lose yourself? I liked seeing the journey the characters went on to try and figure out their place in the world again when someone close to them has gone. I think the fact that the main character is a twin and his twin tragically died was the real hook in this book. I’ve read a lot of books similar to this one now and without that, it would have felt slightly repetitive and unoriginal.

I liked how strong this book started off. It told me everything I wanted to know and sometimes and there was no mystery behind the events, which meant that it was easy to dive right into this novel and not be questioning things. I felt as though I was immediately a part of Mark’s world and I was enveloped in his feelings and thoughts. And while that was engrossing, it wasn’t always enjoyable. Let me explain. Being in the mind of someone like Mark – someone so broken by their loss – is a difficult thing to experience. We see first hand how he is feeling and what he is thinking, and that’s very confronting at times. His pain and agony felt incredibly real, but I’m grateful that this book was so raw and realistic.

There was a particular aspect of this book that reminded me of Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson, but definitely a lot more sad. Of course. Have you not read any books by Morgan Matson? You’re practically bound to read them with a smile on your face. So what I mean when I say it reminded me of that particular Morgan Matson book is that Mark discovers Grace’s journal and a list of things that she wanted to do that year. Then, of course, Mark and some of his close friends decide to do the things on Grace’s list in her honour. That was genuinely beautiful and I loved seeing how Mark wasn’t completely on board with the idea at first but he finally embraced the list and decided to live for Grace as well as himself.

Even though we didn’t know Grace at all during the novel, I felt as though I knew her by the end. Her little ‘to-do’s gave us insights into her mind and her notebooks filled with memories and raw thoughts made Grace feel as though she was still there and her voice was so present, even though she was not. But she was present in other ways and stayed alive in Mark’s memories and in the fun and scary adventures he went on in search of finding a way out of his anger and heal his heart. These adventures were the most enjoyable parts to read about because each time, I could see that Mark was starting to heal more and more and realise that him living wasn’t betraying Grace in any way and he couldn’t blame himself for her death.

Another thing I absolutely loved was the inclusion of an online group that was called ‘Twinless Twins’. They were all people who had lost their twins and they were reaching out to people in the same situation. I liked seeing Mark get to know these people more and eventually even meeting them in real life. They offered sage advice and really played a big part in Mark learning to move on from his past while still remembering and honouring Grace. And that’s one of the most important messages in this book – that your pain and suffering may not really end, but you have to hope that there will come a time when it lessens to a degree that you can live with.

There was so much about this book to love, even the tiniest of details. For example, I loved how unique Mark’s school was and how it was prominent in the storyline. Mark went to a performing arts high school, which was always alive and buzzing with energy. I loved seeing what went on there because I always wished I could have gone to one of those schools, and so it was like I was experiencing it through this book. And while this book is about death and grieving, it is just as much about life and learning to love it as the sad stuff. In my opinion, you can’t have either the good or the bad without each other and while the good stuff doesn’t necessarily soften the bad things, the bad things don’t ruin the good things or make them unimportant. Oops, I think I just quoted Doctor Who there. But I think that’s an important thing to remember and it’s something that Mark learns throughout the novel.

As well as getting to know Mark, I also really enjoyed meeting Hanna and Lily and Pete and Jenny and Sebastian and I felt like they all added something to the novel, as well as providing Mark with support and friends he could learn to trust again after shutting himself off from the world. While death is cruel and unfair, it is a part of life that we all have to learn to cope with and understand that we can and will make it through. All we can do is hope that given time, those painful memories will turn to warm ones, giving us nostalgic feelings which we accompany with a smile, not tears. But missing someone isn’t a bad thing. The love we have for that person is never gone from our hearts, we just learn to deal with the pain better. I’d give There Will Come a Time by Carrie Arcos a score of 9 out of 10. If you’re in the mood for a deep and touching book, I recommend giving this one a go!

Thank you to Simon & Schuster Australia for providing me with this book in exchange for an honest review!