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Do I Dare Disturb the Universe?* Personal Problems

 *from The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock by T.S. Eliot

Go immediately to: Sexual Abuse/Rape | Alcohol/Drugs | Death/DyingDisfunctional/Violent Families | Divorce/Relationships | Fitting In | Food Issues/Weight Concerns | Love, Sex & PregnancyOn the Edge |


Sexual Abuse/Rape

Anderson, Laurie Halse. Speak
A traumatic event near the end of the summer has a devastating effect of Melinda's freshman year in high school.  (SLJ gr 8+)

Goobie, Beth. The Dream Where The Losers Go                                     
"After treatment for self-destructive behaviour, Skey Mitchell returns to high school where she encounters a boy her own age, with dreams - and secrets - much like her own" (SLJ gr. 7+)

Lynch, Chris. Inexcusable  
High school senior and football player Keir sets out to enjoy himself on graduation night, but when he attempts to comfort a friend whose date has left her stranded, things go terribly wrong. (SLJ gr. 9+)

Kwasney, Michelle D. Blue Plate Special 
In alternating chapters, the lives of three teenage girls from three different generations are woven together as each girl learns to deal with the hands they’ve been dealt including rape, having an alcoholic mother and an over controlling boyfriend.  (SLJ gr 10+)

Shaw, Susan, Safe
When thirteen-year-old Tracy, whose mother died when she was three years old, is raped and beaten on the last day of school, all her feelings of security disappear and she does not know how to cope with the fear and dread that engulf her. (SLJ gr. 7+)


Draper, Sharon. Tears of a Tiger
The death of high school basketball star Rob Washington in an automobile accident affects the lives of his close friend Andy, who was driving the car, and many others in the school.  (SLJ gr 9+)

Friend, Natasha.  Lush 
Unable to cope with her father's alcoholism, thirteen-year-old Sam corresponds with an older student, sharing her family problems and asking for advice.  (SLJ gr 7+)

Go Ask Alice.
Based on the diary of a fifteen-year-old drug user chronicling her struggle to escape the pull of the drug world.

Hopkins, Ellen.  Crank   
Kristina Georgia Snow is the perfect daughter, gifted high school junior, quiet, never any trouble. But on a trip to visit her absentee father, Kristina disappears and Bree takes her place. Bree is the exact opposite of Kristina. Through a boy, Bree meets the monster: crank. And what begins as a wild ecstatic ride turns into a struggle through hell for her mind, her soul - her life.  (SLJ gr 8+)

Hopkins, Ellen.  Glass  
In a powerful sequel to Crank, Kristina is determined to manage her addiction to crack in order to keep her newborn child, but when she is unable to manage her use of the drug and the pull becomes too strong, her greatest fears are quickly realized.  (SLJ gr 9+)

Johnson, Kathleen Jeffries. Target
Why had the men chosen him? Savagely violated by two strangers, sixteen-year-old Grady West retreats into silence. Some hells just can't be shared. Searing and powerful, Target shows that people can go through unspeakable things and emerge whole-- and sometimes your friends can save you.

Murray, Jaye. Bottled Up: A Novel.
A high school boy comes to terms with his drug addiction, life with an alcoholic father, and a younger brother who looks up to him. (Grade 7+)

Pearson, Mary.  A Room on Lorelei Street   
To escape a miserable existence taking care of her alcoholic mother, seventeen-year-old Zoe rents a room from an eccentric woman, but her earnings as a waitress after school are minimal and she must go to extremes to cover expenses.  (SLJ gr 10+)

Rapp, Adam.  Punkzilla  
"Punkzilla" is on a mission to see his older brother "P" before "P" dies of cancer. Still buzzing from his last hit of meth, he embarks on long trip to Memphis, Tenn., writing letters to his family and friends. Along the way, he sees a sketchier side of America and worries if he will make it to see his brother in time. (SLJ gr 9+)

Vigan, Delphine de.  No and Me 
Precocious thirteen-year-old Lou meets a homeless eighteen-year-old girl on the streets of Paris and Lou's life is forever changed.  (SLJ gr 9+)



Bauer, Joan.  Hope Was Here 
When sixteen-year-old Hope and the aunt who has raised her move from Brooklyn to Mulhoney, Wisconsin, to work as waitress and cook in the Welcome Stairways diner, they become involved with the diner owner's political campaign to oust the town's corrupt mayor.  (gr 8+)

Bray, Libba.  Going Bovine  
Slacker Cameron is diagnosed with Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease and as he lays in the hospital, he encounters a punk rocker angel, Dulcie, who claims there's a curre for him.  So together with hypochondriac, stoner dwarf Gonzo and a lawn gnome they pick up along the way, they head out from Texas to Tomorrowland in Orlando in an hallucinogenic road trip.  Bray critiques everything from religious cults, to American education to materialism.  (SLJ gr 9+)  

Cook, Karin. What Girls Learn
Two sisters cope with their mother's death by cancer while getting to know her new husband.  (SLJ YA)

Downham, Jenny.  Before I Die
A terminally ill teenaged girl makes and carries out a list of things to do before she dies.  (SLJ gr 9+)

Forman, Gayle.  If I Stay 
While in a coma following an automobile accident that killed her parents and younger brother, seventeen-year-old Mia, a gifted cellist, weights whether to live with her grief or join her family in death.  (SLJ gr 9+)

Green, John.  The Fault in Our Stars
Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel's story is about to be completely rewritten.  (SLJ gr. 9+)

Hurwin, Davida.  A Time for Dancing  
Seventeen-year-old best friends Samantha and Juliana tell their stories in alternating chapters after Juliana is diagnosed with cancer.  (SLJ gr 7-10)

Jocelyn, Marthe.  Would You?  
When her beloved sister, Claire, steps in front of a car and winds up in a coma, Nat's anticipated summer of working, hanging around with friends, and seeing Claire off to college is transformed into a nightmare of doctors, hospitals, and well-meaning neighbors.  (SLJ gr 8-11)

Johnson, Angela.  Toning the Sweep
On a visit to her grandmother Ola, who is dying of cancer in her house in the desert, fourteen-year-old Emmie hears many stories about the past and her family history and comes to a better understanding of relatives both dead and living.  (SLJ gr 6 -9)

Mori, Kyoko. Shizuko's Daughter
After her mother's suicide when she is twelve years old, Yuki spends years living with her distant father and his resentful new wife, cut off from her mother's family, and relying on her own inner strength to cope with the tragedy. (SLJ gr 7+)

Schmidt, Gary D.  Trouble
Fourteen-year-old Henry, wishing to honor his brother Franklin's dying wish, sets out to hike Maine's Mount Katahdin with his best friend and dog. But fate adds another companion--the Cambodian refugee accused of fatally injuring Franklin--and reveals troubles that predate the accident.  (SLJ gr 7-10)

Thompson, Holly. Orchards
Sent to Japan for the summer after an eighth-grade classmate's suicide, half-Japanese, half-Jewish Kana Goldberg tries to fit in with relatives she barely knows and reflects on the guilt she feels over the tragedy back home.

Williams, Carol Lynch. Waiting
As the tragic death of her older brother devastates the family, teenaged London struggles to find redemption and finds herself torn between her brother's best friend and a handsome new boy in town. (Kirkus Reviews age 12+)

Yeomans, Ellen. Rubber Houses  
A novel in verse that relates seventeen-year-old Kit's experiences as her younger brother is diagnosed with and dies of cancer and as she withdraws into and gradually emerges from her grief.  (gr 7-12)

Disfunctional/Violent Families

Corrigan, Eireann. Splintering
Relates, in a series of poems from different perspectives, the events and after-effects of an intruder's violent attack on a family.  (SLJ gr 9+)

Flinn, Alex. Breathing Underwater
Sent to counseling for hitting his girlfriend, Caitlin, and ordered to keep a journal, sixteen-year-old Nick recounts his relationship with Caitlin, examines his controlling behavior and anger, and describes living with his abusive father. (SLJ gr 9+) 

King, A.S. Ask the Passengers                                                                 
Astrid Jones desperately wants to confide in someone. She spends hours lying on the backyard picnic table watching airplanes fly overhead and imagining that she's sending love to the passengers in the airplanes flying high over her backyard. Maybe they'll know what to do with it. Maybe it'll make them happy. Maybe they'll need it. Her mother doesn't want it, her father's always stoned, and she asks them her most personal questions, like what it means! that she's falling in love with a girl.

Klass, David. You Don't Know Me
Fourteen-year-old John creates alternative realities in his mind as he tries to deal with his mother's abusive boyfriend, his crush on a beautiful, but shallow classmate and other problems at school.  (SLJ gr 7+)

Roskos, Evan. Dr. Bird's Advice for Sad Poets
A sixteen-year-old boy wrestling with depression and anxiety tries to cope by writing poems, reciting Walt Whitman, hugging trees, and figuring out why his sister has been kicked out of the house. (SLJ gr. 9+)

Williams, Carol Lynch. Waiting                                                                   
As the tragic death of her older brother devastates the family, teenaged London struggles to find redemption and finds herself torn between her brother's best friend and a handsome new boy in town. (SLJ gr 8+)


Dessen, Sarah. What Happened to Goodbye                                  
Following her parents' bitter divorce as she and her father move from town to town, seventeen-year-old Mclean reinvents herself at each school she attends until she is no longer sure she knows who she is or where she belongs. (SLJ gr. 7+)

Naylor, Phyllis Reynolds. Ice.
When thirteen-year-old Chrissa is sent to her paternal grandmother's farm, she learns more about her absent father and some of the reasons for her distant relationship with her mother.  (SLJ gr 6-9)

Vivian, Siobhan. A Little Friendly Advice
When Ruby's divorced father shows up unexpectedly on her sixteenth birthday, the week that follows is full of confusing surprises, including discovering that her best friend has been keeping secrets from her, her mother has not been truthful about the past, and life is often complicated. (SLJ gr. 9+)

Wittlinger, Ellen. Hard Love.
After starting to publish a 'zine in which he writes his secret feelings about his lonely life and his parents' divorce, sixteen-year-old John meets an unusual girl and begins to develop a healthier personality. (SLJ gr 7+)

Fitting In

Castellucci, Cecil. Boy Proof
Feeling alienated from everyone around her, Victoria Denton Los Angeles high school senior and movie lover shaves her head and takes on the name Egg, after a favorite character in a science fiction film she has seen 42 times. Her shaved head and white cloak make her actress mother call her Boy Proof. Changes begin when an interesting new boy arrives at school and helps her realize that there is more to life than just the movies.  (SLJ gr 8+)

Cormier, Robert. The Chocolate War.
A high school freshman discovers the devastating consequences of refusing to join in the school's annual fund raising drive and arousing the wrath of the school bullies.

Howe, James. The Misfits.
Four students who do not fit in at their small-town middle school decide to create a third party for the student council elections to represent all students who have ever been called names.  (SLJ gr 4-8)

Lockhart, E. The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks
Sophomore Frankie starts dating senior Matthew Livingston, but when he refuses to talk about the all-male secret society that he and his friends belong to, Frankie infiltrates the society in order to enliven their mediocre pranks. (SLJ gr. 7+)

Plum-Ucci, Carol. The Body of Christopher Creed.
Torey Adams, a high school junior with a seemingly perfect life, struggles with doubts and questions surrounding the mysterious disappearance of the class outcast.  (SLJ gr 8+)

Rennison, Louise. Angus, Thongs, and Full-Frontal Snogging: Confessions of Georgia Nicolson.
Presents the humorous journal of a year in the life of a fourteen-year-old British girl who tries to reduce the size of her nose, stop her mad cat from terrorizing the neighborhood animals, and win the love of handsome hunk Robbie.  (SLJ gr 7-9)

Sheldon, Dyan. Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen.
In her first year at a suburban New Jersey high school, Mary Elizabeth Cep, who now calls herself "Lola," sets her sights on the lead in the annual drama production, and finds herself in conflict with the most popular girl in school.  (SLJ gr 6-9)

Spinelli, Jerry. Stargirl.
In this story about the perils of popularity, the courage of nonconformity, and the thrill of first love, an eccentric student named Stargirl changes Mica High School forever.  (SLJ gr 6-10)

Weiss, M. Jerry and Helen S. Weiss, eds. Lost and Found.
Authors such as Shelley Stoehr, Tamora Pierce, Mel Glenn, and Paul Zindel write stories based on their real-life experiences as teenagers.  (SLJ gr 7-10)

Yep, Laurence. Dream Soul.
In 1927, as Christmas approaches, fifteen-year-old Joan Lee hopes to get her parents' permission to celebrate the holiday, one of the problems of belonging to the only Chinese American family in her small West Virginia community.  (SLJ gr 4-8)

Food Issues/Weight Concerns

Anderson, Laurie Halse.  Wintergirls 
Eighteen-year-old Lia comes to terms with her best friend's death from anorexia as she struggles with the same disorder.  (SLJ gr 8+)

Bauer, Joan. Squashed.
As a sixteen-year-old pursues her two goals--growing the biggest pumpkin in Iowa and losing twenty pounds herself--she strengthens her relationship with her father and meets a young man with interests similar to her own.  (SLJ gr 6-9)

Block, Francesca Lia. The Hanged Man.
Having stopped eating after the death of her father, seventeen-year-old Laurel feels herself losing control of her life in the hot, magical world of Los Angeles.  (SLJ gr 10+)

Crutcher, Chris. Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes.
The daily class discussions about the nature of man, the existence of God, abortion, organized religion, suicide and other contemporary issues serve as a backdrop for a high-school senior's attempt to answer a friend's dramatic cry for help. (SLJ gr 7+)

Dessen, Sarah. Keeping the Moon.
Fifteen-year-old Colie, a former fat girl, spends the summer working as a waitress in a beachside restaurant, staying with her overweight and eccentric Aunt Mira, and trying to explore her sense of self.  (SLJ gr 7+)

Friend, Natasha. Perfect 
Following the death of her father, a thirteen-year-old uses bulimia as a way to avoid her mother's and ten-year-old sister's grief, as well as her own.  (SLJ gr 6-9)

George, Madeleine.  Looks   
Two high school girls, one an anorexic poet and the other an obese loner, form an unlikely friendship.  (SLJ gr 8+)

Holt, Kimberly Willis. When Zachary Beaver Came to Town.
During the summer of 1971 in a small Texas town, thirteen-year-old Toby and his best friend Cal meet the star of a sideshow act, 600-pound Zachary, the fattest boy in the world. National Book Award Winner (SLJ gr 5-8)

Kessler, Jackie Morese. Hunger.
Lisabeth Lewis has a black steed, a set of scales, and a new job: she's been appointed Famine. How will an anorexic seventeen-year-old girl from the suburbs fare as one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse?

Lipsyte, Robert. One Fat Summer.
An overweight fourteen-year-old boy experiences a turning point summer in which he learns to stand up for himself.

Mackler, Carolyn.  The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things
Feeling like she does not fit in with the rest of her family, who are all thin, brilliant, and good-looking, fifteen-year-old Virginia tries to deal with her self-image, her first physical relationship, and her disillusionment with some of the people closest to her.  (SLJ gr 7-10)

Newman, Leslea. Fat Chance.
In a series of diary entries, thirteen-year-old Judi recounts her struggles to lose weight, hide her bulimia from her mother, find a boy friend, and decide on a profession.  (SLJ gr 6-9)

Padian, Maria.  Jersey Tomatoes are the Best    
When fifteen-year-old best friends Henry and Eve leave New Jersey, one for tennis camp in Florida and one for ballet camp in New York, each faces challenges that put her long-cherished dreams of the future to the test.  (SLJ gr 7-10)

Supplee, Suzanne.  Artichoke’s Heart  
Sixteen years old Rosemary decides she is sick of being overweight and mocked at school and at her mother's beauty salon, Heavenly Hair. (SLJ gr 8-10)

Vrettos, Adrienne Maria.  Skin  
When his parents decide to separate, eighth-grader Donnie watches with horror as the physical condition of his sixteen-year old sister, Karen, deteriorates due to an eating disorder.  (SLJ gr 8+)

On the Edge

Hopkins, Ellen.  Impulse
Three teens who meet at Reno, Nevada's Aspen Springs mental hospital after each has attempted suicide connect with each other in a way they never have with their parents or anyone else in their lives. (SLJ gr. 9+)

Love, Sex & Pregnancy

Behrens, Andy.  All the Way   
Hoping to have sex for the first time with a girl he has met on the Internet, seventeen-year-old Ian drives with his two best friends from Illinois to South Carolina.  (SLJ  gr 9+)

Cart, Michael, ed. Love and Sex: Ten Stories of Truth  (SLJ gr 9+) 

Carter, Caela.  Me, Him, Them and It 
Playing the "bad girl" at school to get back at her feuding parents, sixteen-year-old Evelyn becomes pregnant and faces a difficult decision.  (SLJ gr. 9+)

Efaw, Amy.  After  
In complete denial that she is pregnant, straight-A student and star athlete Devon Davenport leaves her baby in the trash to die, and after the baby is discovered, Devon is accused of attempted murder.  (SLJ gr 8+)

Fienberg, Anna. Borrowed Light.
A sixteen-year-old feels alienated from her family while struggling with the difficult decisions surrounding her unplanned pregnancy.  (SLJ gr 9+)

Hautman, Pete. The Big Crunch
June is starting at her sixth school in four years when she meets Wes, who has just broken up with a girlfriend, and although they do not share an instant or intense connection, attraction turns to love and they wonder where it will lead. (SLJ gr. 8+)

Martin, C.K. Kelly.  I Know It’s Over   
Sixteen-year-old Nick, still trying to come to terms with his parents' divorce, experiences exhilaration and despair in his relationship with his girlfriend Sasha especially when, after instigating a trial separation, she announces that she is pregnant.  (SLJ gr 9+)

Young, Cathy, ed. One Hot Second: Stories about Desire   
A collection of eleven stories by award-winning authors that explore the many varieties of teenage desire, including first crushes, first kisses, and first times.