Tuesdays with Tundra

Tuesdays with Tundra is an ongoing series featuring our new releases. This title is now available in stores and online!

Pluto Rocket: New in Town (Pluto Rocket #1)
By Paul Gilligan
88 Pages | Ages 6-9 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735271906 | Tundra Books
Meet Pluto Rocket, a friendly alien, and Joe Pidge, a wise-cracking pigeon, in the first book of this hilarious new early graphic novel series, for fans of Narwhal and Jelly and Pizza and Taco! Joe Pidge, not just a pigeon but also the stylish king of the neighborhood, is bobbing his way down the street one day when, all of a sudden, Pluto Rocket enters the scene. It turns out, Pluto is from another planet, and is disguising herself for her secret mission — to find out what life in the neighborhood is really like. Lucky for Pluto, Joe Pidge has seen it all before, eaten it all before, and pooped on it all before, so he takes her under his wing and the two become fast friends. But Joe is the one who actually learns a thing or two and whose mind is blown by the out-of-this-world Pluto in this hilarious graphic novel series from Paul Gilligan, creator of the syndicated comic strip Pooch Cafe!

Pluto Rocket: New in Town is also available today in Paperback!

We can’t wait to see you reading this title! If you share this book online, remember to use #ReadTundra in your hashtags so that we can re-post.

Tundra Telegram: Books To Put Hare On Your Chest

Hello, and thanks for joining us at Tundra Telegram, the column where we burrow into the issues of the day, and suggest a few books beyond comp-hare that might warren-t a closer read.

This past weekend was the beginning of the Lunar New Year, arguably the most important annual holiday in Chinese culture, and a celebration in several other Asian countries. The Lunar New Year began on Sunday, January 22, and will last fifteen days, ending on the first full moon. This year is the Year of the Rabbit (except in Vietnam, where it is the Year of the Cat), which, in the Chinese Zodiac, symbolizes longevity, peace, and prosperity. (Sounds good to us!)

If you know children’s books at all, you know rabbits pop up now and then, so we’ve assembled a colony of kids’ books featuring everyone’s favorite fuzzy lagomorphs. While we could have included the classics: your Peter Rabbits, your Velveteen Rabbits, your Pat the Bunnies, your Guess How Much I Love You Nut-Brown Hares . . . instead we tried to highlight some bunnies off the beaten path that are worth a read. So, let’s hop to it!

PICTURE BOOKS

An unforgettable rabbit who actually forgets quite a bit stars in Barnaby Never Forgets by Pierre Collet-Derby. Barnaby insists he has a great memory, even though he can’t remember where he put his glasses when they’re on his own face! Barnaby’s story is very funny, with a lovable lead character and a totally hilarious surprise ending.

If you like your rabbits strong-willed rather than absent-minded, you’ll like Marjoke Henrichs’s No! said Rabbit. A perfect read for anyone, like Rage Against the Machine, who doesn’t like to be told what to do. It’s all about a bunny who doesn’t want to listen when he’s told to get up, get dressed, have breakfast, play outside, have a bath or more. (This must be why rabbits are so difficult to train!)

Mr. Mole Moves In by Lesley-Anne Green may seem from its title and cover to be thin on rabbit content, as it’s the story of the arrival of Mr. Mole to Juniper Hollow, who surprises his new neighbors with some peculiar behavior – talking to watermelons and giving children erasers to eat, among other bizarre actions. But it’s an observant rabbit who befriends Mr. Mole and diagnoses exactly why the newcomer is acting so wacky.

When it comes to observant rabbits, no one does it better than Katherine Battersby’s Squish Rabbit. Squish is a tiny rabbit and others seldom see or hear him. But Squish notices everything – especially when someone needs some help. Squish proves that even small animals can make a big difference in a book intended for some of the youngest readers.

Richard Scarry may be known as a classic children’s author, but do you know his book Rabbit and His Friends, an unusual ode to rabbit fatherhood? Rabbit finds an egg and assumes it belongs to Hen, until it hatches. That’s when Rabbit and his friends learn what a platypus is and how it takes a village to raise a child.

In the same vein of unexpected companionship lies Dog and Rabbit by Barney Saltzberg, about Dog who likes Rabbit, but Rabbit only likes Bunny. (Can we blame all these animals for liking rabbits and bunnies?) Dog and Rabbit is a calm and gentle book about unrequited friendship and patience (rather than a how-to guide to multiple pet ownership).

Bunny uses the power of books and libraries in the rabbit-and-reading-lover dream project Bunny Figures It Out by Ruby Shamir and Andrew Joyner. Bunny runs out of jelly while making a sandwich (must be at Shakira’s house), so she endeavors to make her own. How will she do it? She heads to the library and does jelly research in a book with lessons for any DIY preserve fan.

The bunny in Peter Raymundo’s The Mysterious Sea Bunny may not be the kind you’re used to seeing in picture books. It’s not fluffy; it’s kind of slimy. And it’s only an inch long! A sea bunny is a species of sea slug and young readers will love learning about it (even if they may not want to give it a cuddle).

And for a rabbit that knows how to defend itself, you’ll want to read Black Belt Bunny by Jacky Davis and Jay Fleck, with a rabbit who can do front-kicks and back-flips to air-chops – but gets anxious when he has to try something new: making a salad. This is a very funny book that features a bunny, a bunny’s favorite food and how martial arts can help even in basic food prep.

CHAPTER BOOKS & MIDDLE GRADE

Rabbits practicing martial arts makes sense – everyone knows they are phenomenal at kicking – but what about a rabbit playing baseball? Or a rabbit zapped into a video game? Or blasting into outer space? Such are the premises of the Jack books by Mac Barnett and Greg Pizzoli, which star the titular mischievous rabbit, a cranky old lady, and dog friend Rex.

The first book in the Melanie Watt’s Scaredy Squirrel Nutty Adventures graphic novels, Scaredy Squirrel in a Nutshell, sees our anxiety-plagued hero overcome his fears to leave his tree (despite the danger) and make a new fluffy bunny friend Ivy! (And, trust us, it is not lost on Scaredy that this bunny friend shares a name with one of the most poisonous plants you can name, but the friendship may be worth the risk!)

If you need early reader graphic novels where a rabbit isn’t just a best friend, but is the main character, there’s Stone Rabbit by Erik Craddock. In BC Mambo, Stone Bunny finds a time portal under his bathroom rug and winds up in the Jurassic Period, running from thunder lizards. Things only get zanier as the series progresses, as Stone Rabbit finds himself fighting pirates, stopping alien invasions, becoming a ninja, and basically dipping into every other genre beloved by kids.

And Princess Magnolia and her unicorn Frimplepants face an unexpectedly adorable foe in the third book in the series by Shannon Hale, Dean Hale and LeUyen Pham, The Princess in Black and the Hungry Bunny Horde. Their monster alarm goes off and the dynamic duo is sent to a field full of cute little bunnies nibbling on grass, twitching their noses and wiggling their tails. Are these bunnies really monsters in disguise?

Speaking of monsters, Kelley Armstrong’s pulse-pounding A Royal Guide to Monster Slaying series doesn’t feature any rabbits, but it does feature the rabbit’s mythological cousin, the jackalope! And not just any jackalope – it’s a baby jackalope (mythical jackrabbit with antelope horns) that accompanies Rowan, the unexpected royal monster slayer, as she hunts down a dangerous gryphon, among other exploits.

Who loves the summer more than The Penderwicks? Maybe rabbits? (It is part of their mating season.) The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall is the story of four sisters with very different personalities who spend one summer with their father at a beautiful Massachusetts estate called Arundel – an estate replete with a duo of tame rabbits! Other adventures happen, too – they meet a boy, Jeffrey, the son of the estate’s owner, and run into some trouble. But the important thing is there are two rabbits!

The ultimate rabbit book is The Last Rabbit by Shelley Moore Thomas, a magical story also about four sisters – four enchanted rabbit sisters – on an isolated Irish island that is slowly sinking into the sea. Each of Albie’s sister rabbits have left the island to become girls again, but Albie doesn’t want to leave. She has visits with each of her sisters, now human again, before making her ultimate decision.

YOUNG ADULT

Let’s be honest – there aren’t a lot of YA novels that have a high quotient of bunny content. (I guess most readers grow out of reading about fuzzy rabbits as they get more mature, but please do not count us among them!) One exception is Under a Painted Sky by Stacey Lee. Samantha is a Chinese girl in Missouri, 1849. Annamae has escaped slavery. The two meet at a crime scene they’re implicated in, and flee for the West disguised as boys along the Oregon Trail – and then Samantha starts to fall in love with a cowboy. But where it fits our list is Samantha reads the people she meets through their Chinese zodiac signs (including those born in the Year of the Rabbit). And Annamae tells a crucial parable about a rabbit and snake. (There’s even a rabbit on the hardcover – see if you can find it!)

There are few more famous rabbits in literature than Alice in Wonderland‘s White Rabbit. So, you know the World War II Blitz homage to Carroll’s classic, Steven Sater‘s Alice by Heart, will feature a white rabbit. Interestingly, in this version, as fifteen-year-old Alice Spencer takes shelter in an underground tube station recounts her favorite story and her real life and Wonderland begin to blend, it is her friend (and love interest), tuberculosis-stricken Alfred, who becomes the White Rabbit. Who hasn’t wanted to smooch that perpetually late critter? (Be sure to check out the musical, as well!)

And what is an illusionist without a classic rabbit-out-of-a-hat trick? We’re not sure if fifteen-year-old budding magician Quinn Purcell, the star of Don Calame’s The Delusionist, has a rabbit trick, or his partner Perry does, or if his magic rival-slash-crush Dani Darling does, for that matter. But that would be some real sleight-of-hand if a bunny never even made an appearance.

Tuesdays with Tundra

Tuesdays with Tundra is an ongoing series featuring our new releases. This title is now available in stores and online!

The Pancake Problem (Weenie Featuring Frank and Beans Book #2)
By Maureen Fergus
Illustrated by Alexandra Bye
48 Pages | Ages 6-9 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735267947 | Tundra Books
Fans of Narwhal and Jelly will love this laugh-out-loud graphic novel: a pancake adventure with Weenie, Frank and Beans featuring wiener dog smooches, a huge pile of stinky brussels sprouts and a whole lot of syrup. Weenie loves his human, Bob. He loves his guinea pig friend Beans and his cat friend Frank. He loves naps, adventures and sharing. In fact, Weenie loves pretty much everything (except brussels sprouts). And Weenie SUPER LOVES pancakes. Maybe too much. When the SuperSonic Pancake Maker malfunctions, Weenie knows exactly what to do! Sort of . . .

We can’t wait to see you reading this title! If you share this book online, remember to use #ReadTundra in your hashtags so that we can re-post.

Our New Publicist: Meet Graciela!

Hi I’m Graciela and I’m the newest Publicist at the Young Readers division at Penguin Random House Canada! I immigrated to Canada three years ago from the Mexican Caribbean and traded beautiful beaches for the concrete jungle that is Toronto.

I live and breath YA, but you can also catch me singing from the top of my lungs to one of the many showtunes I listen to. (Note: I am not a good singer)

5 Random Facts About Me

  1. I was born and raised in Cancun but I can’t handle spicy food.
  2. I am a sucker for musicals. One of my goals is to open a company for talentless people that want to be on Broadway.
  3. I have two mini schnauzers that are my whole world.
  4. I was a med student for three semesters. Turns out it was nothing like Dr. House
  5. I didn’t learn how to read until I was 7 years old because no one knew that I could not see the letters in the books or whiteboard in the classroom.

Favorite Penguin Random House Titles

Fallen
By Lauren Kate
480 Pages | Ages 12+ | Paperback
ISBN 9780385739139 | Ember
There’s something achingly familiar about Daniel Grigori. Mysterious and aloof, he captures Luce Price’s attention from the moment she sees him on her first day at the Sword & Cross boarding school in sultry Savannah, Georgia. He’s the one bright spot in a place where cell phones are forbidden, the other students are all screw-ups, and security cameras watch every move. Even though Daniel wants nothing to do with Luce–and goes out of his way to make that very clear–she can’t let it go. Drawn to him like a moth to a flame, she has to find out what Daniel is so desperate to keep secret . . . even if it kills her.

If I Stay
By Gayle Forman
272 Pages | Ages 12+ | Paperback
ISBN 9780593403846 | Penguin Books
In the blink of an eye everything changes. Seventeen ­year-old Mia has no memory of the accident; she can only recall what happened afterwards, watching her own damaged body being taken from the wreck. Little by little she struggles to put together the pieces- to figure out what she has lost, what she has left, and the very difficult choice she must make. Heart-wrenchingly beautiful, this will change the way you look at life, love, and family. Now a major motion picture starring Chloe Grace Moretz, Mia’s story will stay with you for a long, long time.

Looking for Alaska
By John Green
272 Pages | Ages 14+ | Paperback
ISBN 9780593109069 | Penguin Books
Miles Halter is fascinated by famous last words—and tired of his safe life at home. He leaves for boarding school to seek what the dying poet François Rabelais called the “Great Perhaps.” Much awaits Miles at Culver Creek, including Alaska Young, who will pull Miles into her labyrinth and catapult him into the Great Perhaps. Looking for Alaska brilliantly chronicles the indelible impact one life can have on another. A modern classic, this stunning debut marked #1 bestselling author John Green’s arrival as a groundbreaking new voice in contemporary fiction.

The Book Thief
By Markus Zusak
608 Pages | Ages 12+| Paperback
ISBN 9780375842207 | Knopf BFYR
It is 1939. Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier, and will become busier still. Liesel Meminger is a foster girl living outside of Munich, who scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist–books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement.

Vampire Academy
By Richelle Mead
352 Pages | Ages 12+ | Paperback
ISBN 9781595141743 | Razorbill
Love and loyalty run deeper than blood. St. Vladimir’s Academy isn’t just any boarding school – it’s a hidden place where vampires are educated in the ways of magic and half-human teens train to protect them. Rose Hathaway is a Dhampir, a bodyguard for her best friend Lissa, a Moroi Vampire Princess. They’ve been on the run, but now they’re being dragged back to St. Vladimir’s – the very place where they’re most in danger . . . Rose and Lissa become enmeshed in forbidden romance, the Academy’s ruthless social scene, and unspeakable nighttime rituals. But they must be careful lest the Strigoi – the world’s fiercest and most dangerous vampires – make Lissa one of them forever.

Favorite Non Penguin Random House Titles

Anticipated Penguin Random House Titles

Tundra Telegram: Books That Blue Us Away

Hello, and thanks for joining us at Tundra Telegram, the column where we run through the issues giving readers grief, and suggest a few books for reading AND weeping.

Since 2005, people have acknowledged “Blue Monday.” (Celebrate is not exactly what we’d say happens.) The third Monday of January was given that name by a UK travel company, since they had allegedly calculated it as the most depressing day of the year. (One can assume they hoped to inspire some January travel to combat said blues.) Relatedly, “Blue Monday,” the song by New Order, has been acknowledged since 1983 to be a serious banger.

Whether there is any basis for “Blue Monday” being the saddest date on the calendar – many mental health professionals have dismissed it as pseudoscience – we nevertheless felt it’s never a bad time to recommend some books for all ages that discuss sadness, grief, and clinical depression. (Though, as a content warning, we should note many of the YA books, in particular, feature frank depictions of mental illness, self-harm, and suicidal ideation.) That said, let’s wallow in some great books about being blue.

PICTURE BOOKS

The titular ursine friend in Cecile Metzger’s Invisible Bear is not necessarily sad or depressed (per se), but he does spend his days alone in his quiet, colorless home in a forgotten place, where no one comes to visit him. That is, he does until the colorful Madam Odette bursts into his life as a friendly neighbor and both their lives are forever changed for the better.

The Pink Umbrella by Amélie Callot and Geneviève Godbout is similarly about the transformative power of friendship over sadness. Café owner Adele finds the care that she gives her customers and community is returned when she finds herself in the midst of (emotionally and physically) rainy days. One café customer helps her find the sun during a period of severe gray weather.

There are many metaphors for sadness – lack of color, rainy days. And in What’s Up, Maloo? by skipper of sadness Geneviève Godbout, it’s a kangaroo who loses his hop. Maloo the kangaroo starts stepping everywhere instead. His animal pals look for ways to help Maloo to un-stop the hop, and find patience and support can help get a bounce back.

Some say grief is love persevering, which is a beautiful analogy. But for the purposes of this list, grief is a deep sorrow, usually caused by a great loss. A Garden of Creatures by Sheila Heti and Esmé Shapiro is a tender and moving picture book about a great loss and the big questions it poses. Featuring a little bunny and cat whose friend, a big bunny, passes away, the book is a perfect read for anyone struggling with grief and a non-traditional meditation on death that offers tranquility.

Grief is also at the heart of Rodney Was a Tortoise by Nan Forler and Yong Ling Kang, a book that perfectly captures the sorrow of losing a pet. But as devastating as Bernadette’s loss of her dear friend Rodney is, the book shows the importance of expressing kindness and empathy, especially when people are experiencing some of life’s most trying moments.

Completing our grief picture book trilogy is Many Shapes of Clay: A Story of Healing by Kenesha Sneed. Eisha’s mother helps her make a special shape out of clay that reminds her of her father. But as her day goes on, the piece of clay hardens and then eventually shatters into pieces when Eisha bumps into it. Eisha has to live with the loss, and work to make something new out of what is left behind. This is a very subtle book about grief, as well as a book about the joys and pain of the creative process.

Kids don’t always know what to do with their sadness, nor do the adults in their lives know how to respond. The Rabbit Listened by Cory Doerrfeld has lessons in sadness for all ages. Young Taylor doesn’t know who to talk to when feeling sad. All the animals Taylor approaches have their own reactions – they want to talk, they want to get angry. But only the rabbit, who simply listens, can provide Taylor with any comfort.

Eva Eland’s When Sadness Is at Your Door is similar, but suggests young readers treat a feeling of sadness as if it were a guest. Sadness – especially when it lasts a long time – can be confusing and overwhelming. This book suggests you give your sadness a name, maybe do some activities to do with it, like sitting quietly, drawing, or going outside for a walk. This is an excellent book that helps separate sadness from the self, and eschews the idea of “getting over it” or that sadness is, in itself, inherently bad.

And once you finish that, you can read the follow up, Where Happiness Begins, that anthropomorphizes happiness in the same fashion. The book gives happiness a shape, and show readers where they might find it (though it can be elusive).

Being sad or depressed can be a heavy emotion. And Whimsy’s Heavy Things by Julie Kraulis is about a young girl whose things keep weighing her down. Whether she tries to sweep them under the rug or set them out to sea, they keep returning to trip her up. Only by dealing with her heavy things one at a time does Whimsy’s fortune change.

A Shelter for Sadness by Anne Booth and David Litchfield also looks at depression through a figurative lens, and shares some similarities with Eva Eland’s work. In it, a boy creates a shelter for his sadness so that he can visit it whenever he needs to, and the two of them can cry, talk, or just sit. The book views sadness as something that needs to be tended and cared for as much as any friend.

Rachel Tomlinson and Tori-Jay Mordey’s A Blue Kind of Day is less fanciful and more straightforward in its depiction of childhood depression. Coen is depressed and his family members all think they know the way to cheer him up. But (like The Rabbit) only when they begin to listen can they hear what Coen needs as support.

While there are many emotions depicted in Big Feelings by Alexandra Penfold and Suzanne Kaufman – anger, fear, glee, anxiety – sadness is certainly one of the stars of the emotional show. And the adorable kids from the class first seen in All Are Welcome navigate their emotions together, partially by trying to empathize and see multiple points of view.

Finally, Blue: A History of the Color as Deep as the Sea and as Wide as the Sky by Nana Ekua Brew-Hammond and Daniel Minter may not be about sadness or depressions, but Blue Monday is a perfect opportunity to recommend this fascinating cultural history of the color blue. From Afghan painters grinding sapphire rocks to the slave trade’s connections to the demand for indigo pigment and the ways blue jeans are worn, Blue will make you think twice about what colors mean.

CHAPTER BOOKS & MIDDLE GRADE

Susin Nielsen’s No Fixed Address is a very funny book that deals with some difficult issues. Felix is a twelve-year-old kid who lives in a camper van with his mom and has a knack for trivia. While the book chronicles his quest to hide his family’s poverty and compete on a national quiz show to earn them a windfall, it also documents his mother Astrid’s struggles with depression and how their poverty affects how she manages, looking at the economic contributors to mental health.

Natalie in The Science of Breakable Things by Tae Keller also has a mom with depression. And while Felix thinks winning a quiz show will solve most of his problems, Natalie leans into an egg drop competition for similar reasons. With the prize money, she can fly her botanist mother to see the miraculous Cobalt Blue Orchids – flowers that survive against impossible odds – and bring some hope into her life. The novel is a great read for any kid trying to grasp the nuances of depression and loneliness, especially in a parent or guardian.

Laura Tucker’s All the Greys on Greene Street also features a depressed mother – in this case it’s Olympia’s mother, who falls into a deep funk after Olympia’s father, an antique painting restorer, mysteriously leaves in the middle of the night. Olympia’s mom’s depression is depicted with honesty and sensitivity, and the book looks at family, friendship, and art – all set in 1981 Soho, New York City.

But – as you probably know – it’s not just parents who have depression. And Dunkin Dorfman, one half of the titular duo in Donna Gephart’s Lily and Dunkin, is a thirteen-year-old new in town with bipolar disorder. His best friend is a trans girl and together, they’re going to do their best to survive school, despite the odds stacked against them.

Lucy’s mother in Chasing the Milky Way by Erin E. Moulton also has bipolar disorder, and Lucy finds it a challenge in her efforts to become a world-famous robotics scientist. But despite her frustration, Lucy and her baby sister Izzy will go to great lengths to protect the mother they love in a empathetic portrayal of manic depression.

Delsie in Shouting at the Rain by Lynda Mullaly Hunt does not, as far as readers know, have bipolar disorder or depression, but she is having one cruel summer in Cape Cod. She’s dealing with the loss of a best friend, bullying, and her absent mother. But in time, Delsie learns to live with gratitude and in a way that helps others respond in positive ways.

YOUNG ADULT

Nothing is more emo than YA, so obviously there are tons of great novels that delve into sadness and depression. Exhibit A: The Year After You by Nina De Pass, in which Cara is consumed by grief and survivor’s guilt after she survives a tragic accident on New Year’s Eve – but her friend does not. Months later, at a boarding school in Switzerland where no one knows the accident happened, new classmates Ren and Hector try to break through the walls Cara has built and help her begin to forgive herself.

Do you need another novel about a young woman trying to outrun tragedy in her past written by someone named ‘Nina’? Try We Are Okay by Nina LaCour, a moving portrait of loss and loneliness, which one GoodReads reviewer said had her crying “in a park while staring into the unsympathetic rodent eyes of a squirrel hiding nuts for the winter.” Sounds perfect.

Girl in Pieces by Kathleen Glasgow is a difficult book that looks at self-harm, one method many teens sadly use to handle their grief and sadness. And protagonist Charlie’s life is filled with traumas – a dead father, abusive mother, life on the street – that can be hard to read, but her journey to put herself back together and find new outlets for her grief is inspiring.

All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven (which is now also a movie!) is a romance between two very sad (read – trigger warning – suicidal) teens, dealing respectively with deep grief or bipolar disorder. But when Finch and Violet meet on the ledge of the school’s bell tower, it’s unclear who saves whom. Together, they decide to discover the natural wonders of their state of Indiana and give them reasons to live – finding they can really be themselves with each other. But how long can that feeling last?

There’s a similar journey to an unknown land in Home Home by Lisa Allen-Agostini: Kayla is sent to Canada (!) from Trinidad to live with an estranged aunt after she is hospitalized for depression. Her mother sees it as the only solution (someone didn’t read When Sadness Is At Your Door!) and Kayla finds herself in the cold and confusing North. But Canada – in addition to frozen landscapes and Tim Hortons iced capps – also could feature the chance at a family that loves unconditionally, some new friends, and the promise of a hopeful future.

Julia in Erika L. Sánchez’s I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter is a teenager moving through the grief of losing her older sister – the perfect daughter her parents had all their hopes pinned upon. Not only must she deal with her own devastation, she finds her mother is channeling her grief into criticizing her for all the ways she is not like her dead sister.

For a book about depression and – in particular – intergenerational mental illness, readers should check out How It Feels to Float by Helena Fox. Biz, who lost her dad when she was seven, has begun seeing her dad again. But she keeps this information – along with her many dark thoughts – from everyone in her life, so she seems like she’s just floating along, totally fine. Biz slowly begins to come undone, but the book explores the beautiful places loss can sometimes take people and how – ultimately – to return to the world.

Darius the Great Is Not Okay by Adib Khorram documents a nerdy Persian American who never feels like he’s enough, as he takes his first-ever trip to Iran. He feels out of sorts, and his clinical depression is hard for him to explain to his grandparents. But things start to look up when he meets a sweet boy next door, Sohrab.

Not only is the content of Who Put This Song On? by Morgan Parker profoundly emo – the soundtrack is, too! One of the funnier novels about depression, the book features a seventeen-year-old Black girl in mostly white suburbia dealing with clinical depression (largely through listening to Sunny Day Real Estate).

Many of Heather Smith’s bittersweet novels have their moments of intense sadness, but we wanted to limit ourselves to one. That one book is The Agony of Bun O’Keefe, mainly because “agony” is in the title. But also, we love the 1980s Newfoundland setting and the found family Bun discovers after leaving her solitary life in an unsafe house – though those found family members she ends up rooming with all have their sad tales to tell, as well.

Unhappy reading, friends!