The Mighty Logo

4 Young Adult Books to Read If You Struggle With Grief

The most helpful emails in health
Browse our free newsletters

Editor's Note

We hope the books below help you or a loved one in your health journeys. Just so you know, The Mighty may collect a share of sales from the affiliate links on this page. As an Amazon associate, we earn from qualifying purchases.

Grief is something that I struggle with daily. It feels like it’s a never-ending hole that you simply won’t escape. Lucky for me, I’m also a reader and I spend a vast amount of my time escaping to these made up worlds, whether they be contemporary or fantasy. Sometimes worlds collide and I stumble upon books about grief without intentionally meaning to. Either that or a book about grief is so captivating that I trudge past my triggers to see what it’s about. 

As I love young adult novels, I thought it’d be nifty to pull together several books surrounding grief, some of which I’ve read and some are on my TBR list (because everyone won’t stop talking bout them for good reasons).

1. “Instructions for Dancing” by Nicola Yoon

This is a great book for a different perspective on grief and loss. It tackles the blocks we put up around ourselves when it comes to love, especially when you know something bad is going to happen. This book helped me so much in a very dark time, and I highly recommend it to everyone around.

2. “The Astonishing Color of After” by Emily X.R. Pan

This book is great for young adults who are battling personal blame and grief, due to the fact that while the main character Leigh Chen was kissing her best friend, her mother was taking her life. Leigh chases her ancestry, goes to Taiwan, and ends up meeting remnants of her family tree she never meant to see before. If you battle with the intersections of grief, personal blame, loss, and love, this is for you.

3. “You’ve Reached Sam” by Dustin Thao

“You’ve Reached Sam” is one of the top young adult books about grief on my TBR list, for whenever I have the mental emotional capacity because oh, boy. This is a heavy hitter. It makes sense as to why it was an instant New York Times bestseller. 

Julie Clarke, the main character, knew exactly where her life was going, but everything changes when her partner Sam dies. She has a very reasonable reaction, throwing away all of her stuff and trying to force herself to move on, when she finds a message from Sam in her yearbook. She picks up the phone just needing to hear his voice. She calls him thinking she’d hear his voicemail, but instead, he answers.

Yeah, I know. I’m on the edge of my seat too.

She falls for him more deeply, even though he is already gone, which doesn’t actually help her grieving process.

I’m crying already. Let me schedule a phone call with my therapist so I can actually read this book.

4. “Opposite of Always” by Justin A. Reynolds

Another highly recommended book on my TBR list.

Teenagers Jack and Kate meet while they’re at a party. They bond, flirt, and it’s really cute because she’s out meeting his friends and you think they’re going to date, right?

Well, she dies, but the story continues because Jack literally gets sent back to the beginning. He decides to try to stop her from dying, and that causes an adventure where there’s time travel and as always, consequences to your actions.

I know I always wish I could go back in time and change things. I think this book would help me process that, because it’s one of the toughest parts of living with grief. The “what if I could change things?” thought plagues me. If it does you too, this book may be for you.

Do any of these books peak your grief-related interest? If not, what would you suggest? Comment below and let us know.

Lead image courtesy of contributor

Originally published: June 16, 2022
Want more of The Mighty?
You can find even more stories on our Home page. There, you’ll also find thoughts and questions by our community.
Take Me Home