Aker, Don. The First Stone. Toronto: HarperCollins, 2003.

Winner of the 2004 Ann Connor Brimer Award for Children’s Literature, this book focuses on Chad, a 17-year-old who has been raised in several foster homes since the death of his alcoholic grandfather and his grandmother. Chad makes some bad decisions and becomes responsible for the hospitalization of Leeza, who is in a coma. Chad is sentenced by the court to assist with her rehabilitation. Neither Chad nor Leeza knows the role that Chad has played in Leeza’s hospitalization. (Ages: 13+)

Fearnley, Fran (editor). I Wrote on All Four Walls: Teens Speak out on Violence. Toronto: Annick Press, 2004.
Nine teens tell different and dreadful stories of life in violent families and the choices they make to survive. (Ages: 15+)

Ferry, Charles. Binge. Rochester, MI: Daisy Hill Press, 1992.
Weldon Yeager is an 18-year-old alcoholic who is trying to recover and get back his former girl friend, Livvy. When the story begins, Weldon is in a hospital bed following a car accident in which he has run over four teenagers. Two of the victims have already died, and one of Weldon’s feet has been amputated. Ending with the death of Livvy as a result of the accident, this short, tough story may result in some adolescents rethinking their attitudes towards drinking and driving.

Fischer, Jackie. An Egg on Three Sticks. New York: Thomas Dunne Books, 2004.
Set in the San Francisco of the 1970s, this humourous and hopeful novel describes Abby’s attempts to keep her family together, be a 13-year-old, and obtain the love of her mother, following her mother’s mental breakdown.

Flaming, Allen, and Kate Scowen (compilers). My Crazy Life: How I Survived My Family. Toronto: Annick Press, 2002.
This collection of real-life stories, compiled by two Toronto social workers, provides a truthful account of the desperate family situations and lives of several adolescents who overcame great personal difficulties and emerged as survivors. The stories describe life in families with mental illness, alcoholism and other forms of addiction, stealing, abuse, homosexuality, and loss of a parent through death or divorce. (Ages: 14+)

Foon, Dennis. Double or Nothing. Toronto: Annick Press, 2001.
This convincing story describes Kip’s compulsive entanglement with high-stakes gambling. (Ages: 13+)

Musgrave, Susan (editor). Nerves out Loud: Critical Moments in the Lives of Seven Teen Girls. Toronto: Annick Press, 2001.
Seven women describe in a series of autobiographical chapters key moments or events that changed their lives as teenagers.

Stratton, Allan. Leslie’s Journal. Toronto: Annick Press, 2000.
Leslie is dating Jason McCready, the new, extremely cool boy at her school. Soon Jason is trying to control Leslie’s life. The realistic book deals with Leslie’s struggle to find herself as she searches for approval.

Toten, Teresa. The Game. Calgary: Red Deer Press, 2001.
Nominated for a Governor General’s Literary Award in the English juvenile literature category, this absorbing book focuses on the dysfunctional life of Dani Webster. As the story opens, we learn that Dani and her younger sister, Kelly, use a game to cope with their father’s perfectionism and their mother’s lack of involvement in their lives and that Dani has become a patient in the Riverbend Clinic, a psychiatric facility for teenagers with problems, because of her involvement with alcohol and drugs. It’s at Riverbend that Dani encounters Scratch, the self-mutilator, and Kevin, a homosexual whose family are having difficulty acknowledging his sexual orientation. A friendship develops, which helps Dani regain her health and discover the truth about her family. (Ages: 14–17)