The best novels about mental health in relationships

The Books I Picked & Why

Living

By Lise Gold

Book cover of Living

Why this book?

Living has all the best ingredients for an epic slow-burn romance: a shocking first encounter, two very different heroines from completely different worlds, a beautiful friendship that unfolds with care and heartwarming tenderness, and a simmering layer of tense attraction that will keep you turning the pages as fast you can to see the burn finally burst into flames. It’s also a story that handles the topics of grief and depression with respect and a poignancy that makes this story difficult to forget. I love romances that focus on the growth of the individual characters as much as the development of their relationship with each other, and Living does a beautiful job at balancing both.


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Behind the Bars

By Brittainy C. Cherry

Book cover of Behind the Bars

Why this book?

Brittainy Cherry’s work never fails to sweep me off my feet and pull me in with its lyricism, grace, and depth. She’s truly a poet, and this story about two musicians as in love with their craft as they are with each other brings out some of her most stunning writing yet. Behind the Bars takes us on a journey through the hero and heroine’s childhoods all the way up to their reunion as adults. Along the way, they face some dark moments and deal with topics including bullying, loss, grief, and dysfunctional family relationships. These moments are real and raw, and instead of sensationalizing or romanticizing them, Brittainy Cherry uses them to show that life can be beautiful and ugly all at once, and that we can always reach out and find the help we need to let a little more beautiful in.


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Some Sort of Happy

By Melanie Harlow

Book cover of Some Sort of Happy

Why this book?

While the conversation around mental health still has a long way to go to be totally free of stigma, men’s mental health is especially in need of being more openly discussed without shame. When I read Some Sort of Happy, I was thrilled and grateful to find it features a hero struggling with anxiety and an OCD diagnosis. There is a lot of room for the romance genre to step up and show that the stereotypical view of what a ‘strong’ man looks like doesn’t line up with reality and that there are so many ways to be valid and worthy of love. Melanie Harlow does an amazing job at that in Some Sort of Happy, and she instantly became one of my favourite authors after I read this book.


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The Stars and the Blackness Between Them

By Junauda Petrus

Book cover of The Stars and the Blackness Between Them

Why this book?

The Stars and the Blackness Between Them is truly a work of art. Junauda Petrus’s prose is stunning, and the story is crafted with a vivid beauty that makes both heroine’s voices come alive and breathe their words out of the pages. At its heart, this is the story of two young girls who try to find themselves and end up finding each other along the way. It’s also a gorgeous celebration of the cultures of Trinidad and Black America, as well as an exploration of grief and the way our physical health and that of the people we love can intertwine with our mental wellbeing. The story has not left my head since I read it, and it’s not an experience to be missed.  


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Weightless

By Kandi Steiner

Book cover of Weightless

Why this book?

No other author captures the joy, longing, confusion, love, and heartbreak of the first few years of adulthood the way Kandi Steiner does. They don’t call her the Queen of Angst for nothing, and in Weightless, she showcases some of her best new adult romance skills to craft a story about stumbling your way into being a grown-up while learning to love yourself as you fall in love with someone else. The heroine of Weightless also struggles with body image issues, and Kandi Steiner doesn’t shy away from exploring the harsh realities of the way society and even the people we trust can reinforce our deepest insecurities. This was one of the first romance novels I read, and it led me to an enduring love for and appreciation of Kandi Steiner’s work.


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