Substance Abuse Bibliography: Young Adult Literature About Addiction

Anderson, Laurie Halse. The impossible knife of memory. 2014.
Enduring a transient existence before starting school in her Iraq War veteran father’s hometown, a troubled Hayley Kincaid longs for a normal life and pursues a relationship with a secretive boy before her father’s PTSD leads to a disturbing drug problem.

Anonymous. Go Ask Alice. 1971.
Based on the dairy of a fifteen-year-old drug user chronicling her daily struggle to escape the pull of the drug world.

Anonymous. Lucy in the sky. 2012.
A diary by an unnamed drug addict from an upper middle-class neighborhood in Santa Monica documents the ruination of her life after experimenting with drugs and alcohol at a party, after which she rejects everything she once cared about.

Barnes, John. Tales of the Madman Underground: (an historical romance 1973). 2009.
In September 1973, as the school year begins in his depressed Ohio town, high-school senior Kurt Shoemaker determines to be “normal,” despite his chaotic home life with his volatile, alcoholic mother and the deep loyalty and affection he has for his friends in the therapy group dubbed the Madman Underground.

Bloor, Edward. A Plague Year. 2011.
When a crystal meth epidemic tears through his Pennsylvania coal-mining town in 2001, Tom, a supermarket employee who dreams of escaping to college, finds inspiration in the heroism of the passengers of United Flight 93.

Burgess, Melvin. The Hit. 2014.
There is a new drug on the mean streets of Manchester which promises the most intense week of your life, and then you are dead – and after he watches a pop star die on stage, Adam thinks that his own life is so miserable that he might just as well try it.

Chbosky, Stephen. The perks of being a wallflower. 1999.
This is the story of what it’s like to grow up in high school.

Hinton, S.E. That was then, this is now. 1998, 1971.
Sixteen-year-old Mark and Bryon have been like brothers since childhood, but now, as their involvement with girls, gangs, and drugs increases, their relationship seems to gradually disintegrate.

Hopkins, Ellen. Crank. 2004.
Kristina Snow is the perfect daughter, but she meets a boy who introduces her to drugs and she becomes a very different person, struggling to control her life and her mind. The other two books in the trilogy are Glass and Fallout.

Leavitt, Martine. My book of life by Angel. 2012.
Sixteen-year-old Angel struggles to free herself from the trap of prostitution and drug abuse in which she is caught.

Lipsyte, Robert. Raiders Night. 2006.
Matt Rydeck, co-captain of his high school football team, endures a traumatic season as he witnesses a vicious assault of a rookie player by teammates and grapples with his own use of performance-enhancing drugs.

Maia, Love. DJ Rising. 2012.
Sixteen-year-old Marley Diego-Dylan’s career as “DJ Ice” is skyrocketing, but his mom’s heroin addiction keeps dragging him back to earth.

Marchetta, Melina. Jellicoe Road. 2008, 2006.
Abandoned by her drug-addicted mother at the age of eleven, high school student Taylor Markham struggles with her identity and family history at a boarding school in Australia.

Martinez, Jessica. Virtuosity. 2011.
Just before the most important violin competition of her career, seventeen-year-old prodigy Carmen faces critical decisions about her anti-anxiety drug addiction, her controlling mother, and potential romance with her most talented rival.

McCormick, Patricia. My brother’s keeper. 2005.
Thirteen-year-old Toby, a prematurely gray-haired Pittsburgh Pirates fan and baseball card collector, tries to cope with his brother’s drug use, his father’s absence, and his mother dating Stanley the Food King.

Myers, Walter Dean. The Beast. 2003.
A visit to his Harlem neighborhood and the discovery that the girl he loves is using drugs give sixteen-year-old Anthony Witherspoon a new perspective both on his home and on his life at a Connecticut prep school.

Myers, Walter Dean. Dope Sick. 1999.
Seeing no way out of his difficult life in Harlem, seventeen-year-old Jeremy “Lil J” Dance flees into a house after a drug deal goes awry and meets a weird man who shows different turning points in Lil J’s life when he could have made better choices.

Nelson, Blake. Recovery Road. 2011.
While she is in a rehabilitation facility for drug and alcohol abuse, seventeen-year-old Maddie meets Stewart, who is also in treatment, and they begin a relationship, which they try to maintain after they both get out.

Rapp, Adam. Punkzilla. 2009.
A runaway boy nicknamed Punkzilla who sustains himself on the streets of Portland through petty crimes decides to try to kick his meth habit, turn his life around, and go on a journey to Tennessee to visit his dying older brother.

Reed, Amy. Clean. 2011.
A group of teens in a Seattle-area rehabilitation center form an unlikely friendship as they begin to focus less on their own problems by reaching out to help a new member, who seems to have even deeper issues to resolve.

Whaley, John Corey. Where Things Come Back. 2011.
Seventeen-year-old Cullen’s summer in Lily, Arkansas, is marked by his cousin’s death by overdose, an alleged spotting of a woodpecker thought to be extinct, failed romances, and his younger brother’s sudden disappearance.

Woodson, Jacqueline. Beneath a meth moon: an elegy. 2012.
After losing her mother and grandmother to Hurricane Katrina, Laurel Daneau begins a new life in a new town, but when her boyfriend T-Boom introduces her to meth, her future begins to look as bleak as her past.