Schizophrenia, a mental illness characterized by delusions and hallucinations that impair a person’s ability to think properly, affects about 20 million individuals worldwide. YA books about schizophrenia can help those with schizophrenia feel more understood because many people with schizophrenia begin experiencing symptoms in their late teens.
Here are seven of the best YA books on schizophrenia that we’ve compiled. These novels provide a strong depiction of schizophrenia, whether you have it or are interested in learning more about it.
Made You Up by Francesca Zappia
Alex, who suffers from paranoid schizophrenia, has trouble telling what’s real and what’s not around her. She tries to hold her symptoms at bay long enough to get into college with the help of her little sister and her Magic 8-Ball. On her first day of courses, Alex meets Miles, and she’s unsure if she’s hallucinating or not. After coping with mental illness for most of her life, Alex now finds herself making new acquaintances and falling in love for the first time.
The Place Between Breaths by An Na
A delusional Grace lost her mother to schizophrenia after she was convinced that the only way to keep her family safe was to flee the country. She works as a recruiter for a small lab that aims to develop a cure for schizophrenia in order to deal with her loss. Even with the signs of the illness, Grace is unable to tell what is real and what may be a symptom of psychosis.
The Memory of Light by Francisco X. Stork
Vicky Cruz, a 16-year-old patient in Lakeview Hospital’s psychiatric ward, attempted suicide. Here, she encounters others going through similar experiences, such as Gabriel, a fellow patient with religious schizophrenia delusions, with whom she shares her struggles. Her friendships were ripped apart by a crisis, and Vicky must find the strength within herself to recover.
A Blue So Dark by Holly Schindler
When Aura Ambrose’s mother is seen from the outside, she appears to be an accomplished artist and popular teacher. Aura can’t do anything to stop her from falling further and further into the grip of her paranoid beliefs. Aura has been caring for her mother alone since her father abandoned the family.
However, when her mother’s condition worsens, Aura is forced to turn to painting as her only means of coping. In her darkest hour, Aura realizes that love and family may still shine a light on her path to recovery.
Challenger Deep by Neal Schusterman
Caden Bosh believes he is aboard a ship bound for the Mariana Trench, a mission in which he faces a high risk of death. However, in the actual world, he is a high school student who is progressively succumbing to hallucinations. When he learns the reality about his insanity, he goes through a period of mental turmoil.
Schizo by Nick Scheff
When Miles’ younger brother Teddy went missing, Miles was desperate to find him. However, the closer he gets to discovering Teddy, the further away he appears. Miles must come to terms with both his schizophrenia and the death of his brother as he slips into madness.
Calvin by Martine Leavitt
After Calvin and Hobbes’s last strip appeared, Calvin was born on the day of his birth. Growing up, the comic strip was everything to him, and one of his more bizarre psychotic fantasies was a tiger that looked just like he remembered it. Calvin soon comes to believe that Calvin and Hobbes cartoonist Bill Watterson is the secret to treating his sickness. Calvin embarks on an ill-advised expedition across Lake Erie to locate the comic artist, whom he regards as his final hope for rehabilitation.
The Gene: An Intimate History by Siddhartha Mukherjee
Genealogy is a fascinating field of study, and this book provides a fascinating look at how it has evolved over time. First, he tells the story of his own family members who have been affected by schizophrenia, both as doctors and as great writers. The intriguing tale of how scientists have come to know what they do about genes is revealed as part of his explanation of schizophrenia, which encompasses all of genetics in general. Toward the middle of the book, he moves to discussing the implications of genetic knowledge in the modern world. Racism, identity, and intergenerational trauma are just few of the topics he touches on in his writings. I believe that if everyone read The Gene, the world would be a better place.
I Never Promised You a Rose Garden by Joanne Greenberg
In the late 1940s and early 1950s, before the advent of psychopharmaceuticals, this fictionalized account of the author’s journey into and recovery from schizophrenia was published. Dr. Frieda Fromm-Reichmann, the psychiatrist depicted in the book, is based on a real-life clinician, Dr. Frieda Fromm-Reichmann. To please Greenberg’s mother, his mother requested that Rose Garden be published under a pseudonym, and Greenberg obliged. It became an unexpected best-seller and spawned a slew of film and television adaptations. There aren’t many stories about schizophrenia written by someone who has been diagnosed with it, but Rose Garden is one of them. It’s a powerful and bold piece of work that is still relevant today.
Agnes’s Jacket by Dr. Gail Hornstein
An academic psychologist recounts her own path toward a more scientific and historically based knowledge of lunacy in her memoir. I recommend this book to mental health care professionals who want to better understand schizophrenia and other severe mental diseases, and to anyone who are involved in the arguments about how to best treat those who have been diagnosed with these conditions. Dr. Hornstein’s biography of Dr. Frieda Fromm-Reichmann (of Rose Garden renown) is also highly recommended for individuals with an interest in the field of psychiatry.
Mad in America by Robert Whitaker
An intriguing WHO research indicated that in affluent countries, like the United States, schizophrenia sufferers fared worse than those in impoverished countries. Whitaker begins this exceptional piece of narrative investigative journalism with this puzzling idea. Whitaker was perplexed and began investigating the reasons and mechanisms for this. Whitaker narrates the story of American mental health care in this ground-breaking study, first published in 2001. Whitaker explains how the general population learned about mental illnesses like schizophrenia and treatments like antipsychotics. Additionally, I highly recommend his book, Anatomy of an Epidemic, which studies the rising costs of mental illness in the United States today.