Welcome to A Variety of Brains. Are you looking for a neurodiverse book? I’ve got it listed for you. This week, I’m spotlighting bipolar main characters.
A lot of these may not be good representation. It could even be most of them, but that’s not my call to make. On my last few major lists like this for YA Interrobang, I pulled any books I knew were problematic, but I hesitate to do that with this one, simply because neurodiversity in itself is incredibly diverse. Take, for example, the way that anxiety manifests itself varies from person to person.
Some experiences will feel true to some readers, but those same experiences could be triggering for others. I don’t want to deny anyone the chance to find themselves in the pages. Before picking up any of these books, please look at reviews, ask friends, make sure that what’s in these pages won’t harm you. I can’t tell you what won’t work for you, what will hurt you, and I can’t vet all of these books. Please, please be careful.
Bleeding Violet by Dia Reeves
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Release date: January 5 2010
With a head plagued by hallucinations, a medicine cabinet full of pills, and a closet stuffed with frilly, violet dresses, Hanna’s tired of being the outcast, the weird girl, the freak. So, she runs away to Portero, Texas in search of a new home. But Portero is a stranger town than Hanna expects. As she tries to make a place for herself, she discovers dark secrets that would terrify any normal soul. Good thing for Hanna, she’s far from normal. As this crazy girl meets an even crazier town, only two things are certain: Anything can happen and no one is safe.
Crazy by Amy Reed
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Release date: June 12 2012
Connor knows that Izzy will never fall in love with him the way he’s fallen for her. But somehow he’s been let into her crazy, exhilarating world and become her closest confidante. But the closer they get, the more Connor realizes that Izzy’s highs are too high and her lows are too low. And the frenetic energy that makes her shine is starting to push her into a much darker place. As Izzy’s behavior gets increasingly erratic and self-destructive, Connor gets increasingly desperate to stop her from plummeting.
Impulse by Ellen Hopkins
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Release date: January 23 2007
Three lives, three different paths to the same destination: Aspen Springs, a psychiatric hospital for those who have attempted the ultimate act — suicide. Vanessa is beautiful and smart, but her secrets keep her answering the call of the blade. Tony, after suffering a painful childhood, can only find peace through pills. And Conner, outwardly, has the perfect life. But dig a little deeper and find a boy who is in constant battle with his parents, his life, himself. Now they have a second chance, and just maybe, with each other’s help, they can find their way to a better life — but only if they’re strong and can fight the demons that brought them here in the first place.
The Museum of Intangible Things by Wendy Wunder
Release date: April 10 2014
Hannah and Zoe haven’t had much in their lives, but they’ve always had each other. So when Zoe tells Hannah she needs to get out of their down-and-out New Jersey town, they head west, putting everything — their deadbeat parents, their disappointing love lives, their inevitable enrollment at community college — behind them.
The Phoenix Dance by Dia Calhoun
Publisher: Farrar Straus & Giroux Books for Young Readers
Release date: October 11 2005
On the island of Faranor in the kingdom of Windward, twelve princesses dance their shoes to shreds each night. No one knows why. Not the king or queen. Not the knights, lords, or ladies-in-waiting. When the queen blames the royal shoemaker, his apprentice, Phoenix Dance, puts her life at risk to solve the mystery. She braves magic spells, dragons, evil wizards, and the treachery of the princesses themselves. As Phoenix faces these dangers, she finds herself caught in the dangerous dance inside herself – a dance of darkness and light, a dance that presents her with the greatest challenge of her life.
The Unquiet by Jeannine Garsee
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Children’s
Release date: July 17 2012
Rinn Jacobs has secrets: One, she’s bipolar. Two, she killed her grandmother. After a suicide attempt, and back on her medications and hoping to stay well, Rinn settles into a new home in rural Ohio. At school, her classmates believe the school pool is haunted by Annaliese, a girl who drowned there. But when a reckless séance goes awry, and terrible things start happening to her new friends — yet not to her — Rinn is determined to find out why she can’t be “touched” by Annaliese… or if Annaliese even exists.
When We Collided by Emery Lord
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Children’s
Release date: April 5 2016
Jonah never thought a girl like Vivi would come along. Vivi didn’t know Jonah would light up her world. Neither of them expected a summer like this… a summer that would rewrite their futures. In an unflinching story about new love, old wounds, and forces beyond our control, two teens find that when you collide with the right person at just the right time, it will change you forever.
Wild Awake by Hilary T. Smith
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Release date: May 28, 2013
Things you earnestly believe will happen while your parents are away: You will remember to water the azaleas. You will take detailed, accurate messages. You and your best friend Lukas will win Battle of the Bands. Amid the thrill of victory, Lukas will finally realize you are the girl of his dreams.
Things that actually happen: A stranger calls who says he knew your sister. He says he has her stuff. You tell him your parents won’t be able to — Sukey died five years ago; can’t he — You pick up a pen. You scribble down the address. You get on your bike and go. Things get a little crazy after that.