9 Heart-Wrenching YA Books About Dealing With Loss

Dealing with the death of a loved one can be tough for anyone, but it's especially difficult for children and teenagers. Reading stories about characters in similar situations can be cathartic, and make the reader feel less alone. Whether you're going through a tough time or are in the mood for a darker read, check out these nine young adult books. This video was made with Ezvid Wikimaker.

Young Adult Books About Grief: Our 9 Picks

Title Author
1. Saving June Hannah Harrington
2. A Series of Small Maneuvers Eliot Treichel
3. Invisible Fault Lines Kristen-Paige Madonia
4. Detached Christina Kilbourne
5. The Chaos of Now Erin Jade Lange
6. For Holly Tanya Byrne
7. Putting Makeup on Dead People Jen Violi
8. Displacement Thalia Chaltas
9. Ultimatum K.M. Walton

Helpful Resources for Parents Dealing With Death

Sometimes all a person needs to get back on their feet is a hug and a reassuring smile. But some emotional scars are deeper than others. If you need professional help, or are looking to join a support group, these organizations are a great place to start:

  1. InfoAboutKids.com: Tools for healthy child & family development
  2. National Alliance for Grieving Children: A nonprofit that offers networking, information, and support
  3. The Dougy Center: A safe place for grieving families to share their experiences
  4. Our House: A grief support center for children, teens, and adults
  5. Foundation for Grieving Children: Assistance, counsel, comfort, and education for children and families

The Journey Through Loss and Grief

In Depth

Sometimes the best stories are the ones that deal with difficult subjects. This is especially true when it comes to literature for kids and teenagers, who often need guidance when it comes to coping with heartbreak and tragedy. These nine books for young adults, presented in no particular order, all focus on personal loss.

#1 on the list is "Saving June" by Hannah Harrington. Tragedy strikes Harper Scott when her sister June commits suicide. The sixteen-year-old has no idea why this happened. In hopes of honoring her sibling, Harper plans to steal the ashes from her divorcing parents and drive them to California. She brings Jake Tolan, who was a friend of June's, along on the journey. While they are opposites in many ways, the two have a lot to learn from each other.

Coming in at #2 is "A Series of Small Maneuvers" by Eliot Treichel. When Emma Wilson leaves for spring break, she thinks the plan is to reconnect with her dad. But an accident caused by Emma takes her father's life, and she is left dealing with equal parts grief and guilt. With the help of friends, strangers, and her pet horse, the fifteen-year-old slowly pulls herself up, and learns how to move on.

When Emma Wilson leaves for spring break, she thinks the plan is to reconnect with her dad.

#3 on the list is "Invisible Fault Lines" by Kristen-Paige Madonia. Callie is dissatisfied with the lack of reasons for her dad's disappearance. She decides to take matters into her own hands and investigate. While searching for answers, and trying to deal with her overwhelming emotions, Callie finds something. A familiar face in a picture of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake sets her mind racing and makes her question what she thought she knew.

At #4 is "Detached" by Christina Kilbourne. Depression is nothing new to Anna, although the world only sees her as happy, carefree, and successful. When a gut-wrenching accident takes her grandparents' lives, things grow especially dark. A failed suicide attempt alerts Anna, and those around her, to just how much she needs help, and the healing process begins.

#5 is "The Chaos of Now" by Erin Jade Lange. A high school is shaken when a bullied student decides to take his own life. Eli, a hacker extraordinaire, simply wants to make it to graduation and get out of town. But when his computer skills connect him to an online group seeking justice for the bullied, Eli finds himself in the middle of something very serious.

Eli, a hacker extraordinaire, simply wants to make it to graduation and get out of town.

Coming in at #6 is "For Holly" by Tanya Byrne. Lola Durand is angry at her father for moving them to Paris, and for marrying a woman she strongly dislikes. Above all, she is sad about the death of her mother. Unfortunately, her dad isn't receptive to the important emotional conversations that she needs to be having with him. So Lola decides to expose a dark secret about her stepmother, with hopes that it will return everything to the way it used to be.

At #7 is "Putting Makeup on Dead People" by Jen Violi. Four years have passed since Donna's dad died, but she hasn't found any peace. There's no joy in her friendships, or even in her relationship with her mother. Eventually Donna discovers that the best way for her to heal from loss is to help others do the same. She realizes that being a mortician is her calling, and as she pursues her new career, she learns how to be happy again.

At #8 is "Displacement," a novel in verse by Thalia Chaltas. Life is hardly worth living for Vera. Her mother is absent, and her sister recently drowned. She decides to get a fresh start by running away to a mining town in the California desert. Turning over this new leaf helps to clear her head, and eventually Vera is able to figure out what home means to her.

Her mother is absent, and her sister recently drowned.

Finishing the list at #9 is "Ultimatum" by K.M. Walton. Things have been tough for Oscar since his mom died. His dad has been rude, his brother has been a bully, and he feels lost. Vance, the older of the two siblings, is also struggling to cope with the tragedy. Oscar's emotional state isn't easy for Vance, who only finds joy in sports and parties. When their father's alcoholism leads to deteriorating health, the two boys are forced to come together as a family.