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#MHYALit Reading Lists: Schizophrenia, a guest post by Natalie Korsavidis

MHYALitlogoofficfialAs part of our 2016 Mental Health in Young Adult Literature project, we will be posting reading lists on various mental health-related subjects. Guest blogger Natalie Korsavidis pulled together this one on schizophrenia. We will mainly be focusing on books published after 2000. We encourage you to add any other titles you can think of in the comments. Interested in generating a list for us? Let us know! I’m @CiteSomething on Twitter. 


All summaries here adapted from the the Farmingdale Public Library catalog or NoveList.


Schizophrenia in YA


BordercoverAnderson, Jessica Lee. Border Crossing. Milkweed Editions, 2009.

Manz, a troubled fifteen-year-old, ruminates over his Mexican father’s death, his mother’s drinking, and his stillborn stepbrother until the voices he hears in his head take over and he cannot tell reality from delusion.



persistenceAtwater-Rhodes, Amelia. Persistence of Memory. Delacorte Press, 2008.

Diagnosed with schizophrenia as a child, sixteen-year-old Erin has spent half of her life in therapy and on drugs, but now must face the possibility of weird things in the real world, including shapeshifting friends and her “alter,” a centuries-old vampire.



cameronAverett, Edward. Cameron and the Girls. Clarion Books, 2013.

A boy suffering from Schizophrenia falls into a love triangle with a girl in his junior high class–and a girl in his head.




beforeBock, Caroline. Before My Eyes. St. Martin’s Grifffin, 2014.

Told in three separate voices, dreamy Claire, seventeen, with her complicated home and love life, shy Max, also seventeen, a state senator’s son whose parents are too focused on the next election to see his pain, and twenty-one-year-old paranoid schizophrenic Barkley teeter on the brink of destruction.



finding aliceCarlson, Melody. Finding Alice. WaterBrook Press, 2009.

On the surface, Alice Laxton seems no different from any other college girl: bright, inquisitive, excited about the life ahead of her. But for years, a genetic time bomb has been ticking away. Because of Alice’s near-genius intelligence, teachers and counselors have always made excuses for her “little idiosyncrasies.” But during a stress-filled senior year at college, a new world of voices, visions, and unexplainable “knowledge” causes Alice to begin to lose her grip on reality.


me myselfDenman, K.L. Me, Myself, and Ike. Orca Book Publishers, 2009.

Seventeen-year-old Kit is paranoid, confused and alone, but neither he nor his family and friends understand what is happening to him.




notesEllison, Kate. Notes from Ghost Town. Egmont USA, 2014.

Young artist Olivia Tithe struggles to keep her sanity as she unravels the mystery of her first love’s death through his ghostly visits.




helicopterFensham, Elizabeth. Helicopter Man. Bloomsbury, 2005.

A homeless Australian boy sticks by his schizophrenic father as their fragile world disintegrates in this moving story of courage and devotion.



schizoFirmstom, Kim. Schizo. James Lorimer, 2011.

Dan is a fairly normal fifteen-year-old, but at home, things aren’t normal at all. His mother is schizophrenic, and her behaviour is only getting more and more erratic. Dan could just run away, but he’s worried about what would happen to the nine-year-old brother he’s fought so hard to protect.



king ofFuqua, Jonathan Scott. King of the Pygmies. Candlewick Press, 2005.

After hearing what he believes are other peoples’ thoughts, high school sophomore Penn learns that he may have schizophrenia and makes some important decisions about how to live his life.



running forGonzalez, Ann. Running for My Life. WestSide Books, 2009.

Andrea faces the challenges of high school as her relationship with her schizophrenic mother crumbles, and she searches for support for her own mental illness through her therapist, family, friends, and running.



life isJames, Brian. Life is But a Dream. Feiwel & Friends, 2012.

When fifteen-year-old Sabrina meets Alec at the Wellness Center where she is being treated for schizophrenia, he tries to persuade her that it is the world that is crazy, not them, and she should defy her doctors rather than lose what makes her creative and special.



calvinLeavitt, Martine. Calvin. Farrar, Straus, Giroux, 2015.

Born on the day the last Calvin and Hobbes comic strip was published, seventeen-year-old Calvin, a schizophrenic, sees and has conversations with the tiger, Hobbes, and believes that if he can persuade the strip’s creator, Bill Watterson, to do one more strip, he will make Calvin well.



lizardPrice, Charlie. Lizard People. Roaring Brook Press, 2007.

While visiting his mentally ill mother at a psychiatric hospital, high school junior Ben Mander starts talking to a young man who claims that he travels back and forth between the present and the year 4000, searching for a cure for mental illness.



figSchantz, Sarah Elizabeth. Fig. Margaret K. Eldeberry Books, 2015.

In 1994, Fig looks back on her life and relates her experiences, from age six to nineteen, as she desperately tries to save her mother from schizophrenia while her own mental health and relationships deteriorate.



blue so darkSchindler, Holly. A Blue So Dark. Flux, 2010.

As Missouri fifteen-year-old Aura struggles alone to cope with the increasingly severe symptoms of her mother’s schizophrenia, she wishes only for a normal life, but fears that her artistic ability and genes will one day result in her own insanity.



schizo scheffSheff, Nic. Schizo. Philomel Books, 2014.

A teenager recovering from a schizophrenic breakdown is driven to the point of obsession to find his missing younger brother and becomes wrapped up in a romance that may or may not be the real thing.



challengerShusterman, Neal. Challenger Deep. HarperTeen, 2015.

Suffering from schizophrenia, Caden’s internal narratives are sometimes dreams, sometimes hallucinations, and sometimes undefinable, dominated by a galleon and its captain, sailing with an enormous, sullen crew to the deepest point of the Marianas Trench, Challenger Deep.



17 andSuma, Nova Ren. 17 & Gone. Dutton Books, 2013.

Seventeen-year-old Lauren has visions of girls her own age who are gone without a trace, but while she tries to understand why they are speaking to her and whether she is next, Lauren has a brush with death and a shocking truth emerges, changing everything.



inside outTrueman, Terry. Inside Out. HarperTempest, 2003.

A sixteen-year-old with schizophrenia is caught up in the events surrounding an attempted robbery by two other teens who eventually hold him hostage.



freaksVaught, Susan. Freaks Like Us. Trueman, Terry. Inside Out. Bloomsbury, 2012.

Jason is “Freak” to his peers and even his ADHD friend Drip, but not to Sunshine, who–though selectively mute–shares her thoughts and feelings with him. Now she’s vanished, and Jason, whose schizophrenia has shaped his life, is a suspect in her disappearance



lowboyWray, John. Lowboy. Farrar Straus & Giroux, 2009.

Possessing paranoid schizophrenic beliefs that he can save the planet from climate change by cooling down his own overheated body, sixteen-year-old New York youth Will Heller pursues a terrifying and delusional odyssey through the city’s tunnels and backalleys.



made you upZappia, Francesca. Made You Up. Greenwillow Books, 2015.

Armed with her camera and a Magic 8-Ball and her only ally (her little sister), Alex wages a war against her schizophrenia, determined to stay sane long enough to get into college.




Meet Natalie Korsavidis

natalieNatalie Korsavidis is the Head of Young Adult at the Farmingdale Public Library. She received her MLS at CW Post University. She is currently President of the Young Adult Services Division of the Nassau County Library Association. She has spoken at New York Comic Con and the Long Island Pop Culture Convention.




  1. FELL OF DARK by Patrick Downing is another one.

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