I like my protagonists teenage and depressed.
September 9, 2011 9:11 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for novels or movies that feature teenage protagonists suffering from depression, schizoid tendencies or similar psychological defects.

To clarify, it shouldn't loosely be about teenage angst, but the protagonist must show symptoms of depression and/or other mental disorders.

Work from any time frame will do, but the more recent, the better.

Bonus if the work is related to a subculture (such as emo or goth).

An example of what I'm looking for would be Laurie Halse Anderson's Speak.
posted by Senza Volto to Media & Arts (48 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
Laurie Halse Anderson also wrote Wintergirls, which might even be more brutal than Speak. There's a bit of pro-ana subculture (if you can call it that) in it, but it's not a huge part of the plot.
posted by timetoevolve at 9:18 PM on September 9, 2011

Norma Klein's Hiding
posted by brujita at 9:21 PM on September 9, 2011

Donnie Darko?
posted by hades at 9:23 PM on September 9, 2011 [2 favorites]

Catcher in the Rye?
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 9:24 PM on September 9, 2011

The female lead in Niagara, Niagara has Tourette's and OCD.
posted by Gilbert at 9:34 PM on September 9, 2011

Girl, Interrupted is about several teenage girls in a psych ward.
posted by jacalata at 9:37 PM on September 9, 2011 [1 favorite]

- "It's Kind of a Funny Story," by Ned Vizzini, about a 14-year-old boy who spends time on a mental health unit, suffering from depression. Published about five years ago.

- Susanna Kaysen's "Girl, Interrupted" -- not recent, but fits the other criteria. A memoir about a young woman suffering from what was diagnosed as borderline personality disorder.

- Oddly enough, the ninth book in the Princess Diaries series, "Princess Mia," fits the bill. Mia suffers from depression and ends up in therapy. Also by Meg Cabot, "Abandon," a very recent book about a girl who has a near-death experience and then ends up with what she calls "rage issues." The book begins with the protagonist transferring to a school that offers specific support for students grappling with mental illness.

I'll look through my shelves and see if there are others I'd recommend, but those are definitely good to start with -- particularly the Vizzini and the new Cabot book.
posted by brina at 9:37 PM on September 9, 2011 [1 favorite]

There was one I remember reading in year 8, but I can't remember the title. It was about a girl with schizophrenia, told through the perspective of her friend.

The group of friends are trying to help her (the counsellor who talked to us about the book said that she was a bit concerned that none of the girls had involved any adults .) The climax is when the girl goes through a window and another one of the girls whips off her blouse to stop the bleeding.

Perhaps it was called "Julie" or "Susan" or something like that. Perhaps another mefite can put a name to it?
posted by titanium_geek at 9:43 PM on September 9, 2011

Not recent, but Chandler Brossard's The Bold Saboteurs is a wild one, and not much read.
posted by Scram at 9:50 PM on September 9, 2011

New Moon (yes, the Twilight sequel) has a lengthy sequence where Bella is so grief struck that nothing happens for months save blank pages. There's also Robert Cormier's I Am the Cheese, Salinger's Catching in the Rye (also Franny and Zooey), Justine Larbalestier's Liar.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:52 PM on September 9, 2011

Martin Millar's Lonely Werewolf Girl - a supernatural, rock scene, fashion scene novel about a messed-up teenaged werewolf girl.
posted by Squeak Attack at 9:56 PM on September 9, 2011

Oh, and her name just came to me - Francesca Lia Block's Dangerous Angels series - magical realism about messed-up punk rock/subculture teens written in the 90s.
posted by Squeak Attack at 10:01 PM on September 9, 2011 [1 favorite]

Iain Bank's Wasp Factory?
posted by Admiral Haddock at 10:01 PM on September 9, 2011 [1 favorite]

I suggest Lisa Carey's Every Visible Thing - depression, drugs, cross dressing, gender exploration, and some beautiful writing.
posted by Ink-stained wretch at 10:02 PM on September 9, 2011

Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A.S. King
Sorta Like A Rock Star by Matthew Quick
Going Bovine by Libba Bray
Cracked Up To Be by Courtney Summers
posted by wsquared at 10:06 PM on September 9, 2011

Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan (Depression).

Someday This Pain Will Be Useful To You by Peter Cameron (Depression).

Willow by Julia Hoban (Cutting).

Looking for Alaska by John Green (Undiagnosed mental illness, possibly bi-polar).

Liar by Justin Larbalestier (Hard to classify).
posted by Georgina at 10:21 PM on September 9, 2011 [1 favorite]

It grosses me out a little that it's now a feature of Oprah's Book Club, but Wally Lamb's _She's Come Undone_ is pretty wonderful.
posted by mcbeth at 10:23 PM on September 9, 2011 [1 favorite]

I think titanium_geek is speaking about Lisa, Bright and Dark. (Sorry, am on an iPhone and can't link.) I read it as a child and it was my introduction to mental illness. I imagine it's dated, but it was powerful.
posted by pineappleheart at 10:26 PM on September 9, 2011 [2 favorites]

"It's Kind of a Funny Story" was made into a movie recently and it was great!
posted by radioamy at 10:35 PM on September 9, 2011

Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta features a teen protagonist with depression.
posted by yasaman at 10:44 PM on September 9, 2011 [2 favorites]

I also just remembered The Burn Journals by Brent Runyon. It's a YA memoir that came out sometime in the past six or seven years in which the author recounts his attempted suicide-by-fire at age fourteen and all of the subsequent therapy. It's all rather horrific but certainly fits the bill.
posted by pineappleheart at 10:47 PM on September 9, 2011 [1 favorite]

Oh, and to add to Yasaman's, Melina Marchetta's next book, On the Jellicoe Road, also involved a suicidal teen character.

Come to think of it, Meg Rosoff's incredible How I Live Now features depression, PTSD, and selective mutism at some point.

(Sorry. Used to be a YA critic and keep thinking of books I read in my past life. Will stop now.)
posted by pineappleheart at 10:53 PM on September 9, 2011 [1 favorite]

The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson
posted by bq at 10:54 PM on September 9, 2011

The Language of Goldfish by Zibby Oneal
posted by bq at 10:56 PM on September 9, 2011

Prep (social anxiety)
She's Come Undone (depression, suicidal ideation)
posted by salvia at 11:03 PM on September 9, 2011

Better Off Dead
posted by Zed at 11:05 PM on September 9, 2011

Among Others (by Jo Walton, depression following death of her sister; unclear whether her belief in magic is a symptom or a real phenomenon)
posted by salvia at 11:10 PM on September 9, 2011

I Never Promied You a Rose Garden by Joanne Greenberg. The book was much better than the film.
posted by ImproviseOrDie at 11:24 PM on September 9, 2011 [1 favorite]

Yes! pineappleheart, that's the one.

Here's the link. Lisa, Bright and Dark John Neufeld. (Amazon link)

Yes, it was my first intro to mental health issues as well.
posted by titanium_geek at 11:50 PM on September 9, 2011

Ooh, Nick Sagan's Idlewild fits the bill.
posted by richyoung at 11:52 PM on September 9, 2011

Elephant directed by Gus Van Sant, based in part on the 1999 Columbine High School massacre.
posted by theswedishchef at 11:56 PM on September 9, 2011

A few books by John Marsden fit this
-So Much To Tell You, features a girl who doesn't talk after she had acid thrown over her face. Also has a sequel, written from a different characters perspective.
-Checkers (spoilers in wikipedia!), about a girl in a psych ward.
and probably some others.
posted by jacalata at 2:22 AM on September 10, 2011

Francesca Lia Block's The Hanged Man

Natalia (secondary character) in Dinky Hocker Shoots Smack
posted by brujita at 4:11 AM on September 10, 2011 [2 favorites]

Elizabeth Wurtzel's Prozac Nation.
posted by bjrn at 4:33 AM on September 10, 2011

It's very borderline as the protagonist is only shown about 11-12, and it's not modern, but I'm telling you because it's great if that's important.

Spider - David Cronenberg
posted by Not Supplied at 7:04 AM on September 10, 2011

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
This book is beautiful and amazing.
posted by ChuraChura at 8:16 AM on September 10, 2011

Not new but otherwise fits some of your criteria would be the movie David and Lisa.
posted by gudrun at 10:28 AM on September 10, 2011

We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson. It's an excellent book.
posted by OmieWise at 1:27 PM on September 10, 2011 [1 favorite]

Lowboy by John Wrey.
posted by 8dot3 at 2:58 PM on September 10, 2011

The Cuckoo's Child
Dancing on the Edge
Nell's Quilt
The Magicians is a bit borderline because they're college-age, but the main character starts out as a teenager, anyway.
posted by cheesegrater at 6:55 PM on September 10, 2011

Oh! Oh! The Queen's Gambit
posted by Zed at 12:39 AM on September 11, 2011

I am the Cheese and The Bumblebee Flies Anyway by Robert Cormier.
posted by hypersloth at 9:18 AM on September 11, 2011

Response by poster: Epic thanks to everyone for contributing to the thread, I'll mark out the best ones shortly. I also want to point out that off the Wikipedia for Elephant, I found this brilliant Australian movie that fit the criteria.
posted by Senza Volto at 10:18 PM on September 11, 2011

My Sister's Bones by Cathi Hanauer is about a teen with anorexia, if I'm remembering right.
posted by anotherkate at 7:47 PM on September 13, 2011

I'm a little surprised no one's mentioned The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath yet.
posted by jacquilinala at 7:39 PM on September 14, 2011

Also, depending on how you look at it, The Cement Garden, by Ian McEwan.
posted by OmieWise at 6:21 PM on September 22, 2011

Speak, novel by Laurie Halse Anderson
Go Ask Alice
Alice, I think, by Susan Juby
posted by costanza at 12:55 AM on October 16, 2011

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