According to the National Institute of Mental Health, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a disorder that develops in some people after they’ve witnessed a shocking or traumatic event. People experience shock after traumatic events, but those who don’t recover from the initial shock are more likely to develop PTSD. After a distressing or upsetting event, it’s important to seek support.
While literature cannot take the place of a support group or therapy, it can help us process grief and trauma. Teens are not immune to PTSD, and several YA novels explore this disorder in different ways: through fantasy, dystopia, or realistic fiction. Some are from the perspective of the person suffering, while others explore what it’s like to be a family member or friend.
Here is a list of four young adult books that deal with PTSD:
Trail of the Dead by Joseph Bruchac – In the follow-up to Killer of Enemies, Apache teenager Lozen protects her family and friends as they travel in search of refuge in a post-apocalyptic world. Though Lozen has only taken the lives of others to protect herself and her family, the killings take a toll on her spirit and Lozen finds herself with what her people call “enemy sickness,” another name for PTSD. With the support of her friends and family, she is healed in a ceremony that reflects the traditional healing of her Apache ancestors.
The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson – Hayley Kincaid and her father have moved around a lot in the past five years due to his job working on the road. They return to his hometown so that Hayley can have a shot at a normal life. However, after her father’s tours in Iraq, he developed PTSD. Hayley isn’t sure if being in her father’s hometown will help with his PTSD, or push him over the edge.
Melting Stones by Tamora Pierce – Evvy and
Rosethorn are sent to the island of Starns to help residents with a dormant volcano. While there, Evvy has flashes of a war from which she recently escaped.
Fallen Angels by Walter Dean Myers – After his dreams of attending college fall through, Perry, a teenager from Harlem, decides to volunteer for the service and joins the Vietnam War. Perry and his platoon are sent to the front lines and come face-to-face with the horrors of war. Perry begins to questions why black troops are given the most dangerous assignments and why the U.S. is in Vietnam at all.
National Institute of Mental Health: Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
National Institute of Mental Health: Helping Children and Adolescents Cope with Violence and Disasters: What Community Members Can Do
PTSD: National Center for PTSD
American Academy of Pediatrics: Promoting Adjustment and Helping Children Cope After Disaster and Crisis
Why I Love to Read Sad and Dark Books to Children (and You Should Too)
Talking to Kids About Current Events and Conflicts
Turning to Story After the Sandy Hook Shooting
Connecting Teens with the Authors They Love
What are some other YA novels that deal with PTSD? Please share in the comments.
2 thoughts on “Four Depictions of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in YA”
This is a very interesting article. I’ve just read a really good middle grade book that deals with PTSD in families while telling a fun kid-accessable adventure story. Its called THE LOST CELT by A.E.Conran. Its the story of two kids who think they’ve found a timer traveling Celt who is the star of their video game. Really well written.
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