Books Handling Grief August 30, 2017 – Posted in: Book Recommendations – Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

August 30 is National Grief Awareness Day, and while that might not be the most cheerful of commemorations, it’s an important one. In the United States, one in five children will experience the death of someone close to them before the age of eighteen, and one in seven will lose a parent or a sibling before the age of twenty. Fiction can be not only an escape but a critical part of the healing process. With that in mind, we’ve put together a list of books that tackle grief in the context of fantasy and the paranormal.

The Land of Forgotten Girls by Erin Entrada Kelly

Greenwillow Books, 2016

Soledad’s mother and sister are dead. She and her remaining sister, Ming, live in poverty in Louisiana, after their father moved them from the Philippines and then abandoned them with an abusive stepmother. In an effort to protect Ming from the worst of their circumstances, Soledad recounts their mother’s stories of magic and adventure. But what happens when Ming starts to believe the stories are true?

Erin Entrada Kelly tackles serious abuse and survivor’s guilt with grace, and readers will take comfort in the power of imagination to heal and transform.

The Remarkable Journey of Charlie Price by Jennifer Maschari

Balzer + Bray, 2016

Charlie and his sister Imogen discover a parallel world where their mom is still alive, but something isn’t quite right. The more time Imogen spends on the other side, the more things in the real world seem to be changing, and if Charlie can’t figure out the truth, he risks losing his sister as well as his mother.

Ghosts by Raina Telgemeier

Scholastic, 2016

In this graphic novel from bestselling author Raina Telgemeier, Catrina’s family moves to the coast of Northern California so that her younger sister, who has cystic fibrosis, can breathe more easily. There are ghosts in Bahía de la Luna, and as the Mexican Day of the Dead celebration draws near, Cat must come to terms with the nearness of death, the seriousness of her sister’s prognosis, and the complexity of her own cultural heritage.

A Spanish-language edition, Fantasmas, was released in 2017.

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness (concept by Siobhan Dowd)

Candlewick, 2011

Ever since Conor’s mother started her cancer treatments, a monster has come to visit him every night at seven minutes past midnight. This terrifying creature wants only one thing: to tell him three stories in exchange for the truth.

Published in 2011, A Monster Calls has already become something of a classic when it comes to writing about grief and terminal illness. The book was conceived by the award-winning author Siobhan Dowd, who was dying of breast cancer. Knowing she would not be able to finish the manuscript, she asked Patrick Ness to finish it for her. In the author’s note, he wrote, “She had the characters, a premise, and a beginning. What she didn’t have, unfortunately, was time.”

The Hidden Memory of Objects by Danielle Mages Amato

Balzer + Bray, 2017

The cops say Megan’s brother died of an overdose, potentially suicide, but she doesn’t believe them. When she handles Tyler’s belongings, she can see some of his memories, and they hint at an entirely different story. With the help of a detective who shares her ability, Megan begins to investigate, but what she discovers may reveal a side of her brother she never knew.