Reading for Mental Health Awareness Month

Since May was Mental Health Awareness Month and June is Men’s Mental Health Awareness Month, I want to recommend two novels that tackle mental illness with honesty and hope.

JUST FOR THE SUMMER was my first Abbey Jimenez novel, and it won’t be my last. The story opens with a hysterical Reddit post from a sweet, funny guy who thinks he might be cursed. Every woman he dates moves on to find her soulmate.

Emma has the same problem. Egged on by her BFF, she messages this guy—Justin—and their growing friendship leads to a plan: fake date each other, kiss, break up, and meet their own soulmates. Unfortunately Justin lives in Minnesota, and Emma, a traveling nurse, is contemplating Hawaii for her next assignment. Then she finds a cute lake cottage to rent near Justin. This should be fun, right? A simple summer fling that will break their mutual curse. Except their unexpected chemistry and complicated lives make everything messy.

Justin is about to take guardianship of his three much younger siblings, and Emma’s toxic mother appears from nowhere. Gradually, we learn Emma’s abusive childhood has left her with PTSD, attachment issues, and dissociative episodes. All threaten to swallow her as her mother’s behavior becomes increasingly erratic. Emma’s struggle to deal with her trauma could have overwhelmed the novel. Instead it’s treated with compassion and sensitivity that make the HEA so much sweeter. And Justin? What. A. Guy. Which brings me to men ….


As a huge Alexis Hall fan, I downloaded the audio of GLITTERLAND without reading the premise. The tone is darker than anything else I’ve read from  this author, but I was gripped from the moment we enter the mind of Ash, a brilliant young writer with bipolar disorder and crippling anxiety. Almost immediately he has a panic attack, and we learn he’s a suicide survivor who’s been institutionalized and received ECT.

Ash hates himself and his scars—physical and emotional. Nor does he believe he’s capable of happiness. But then he meets Darian, a 23-year-old glitter pirate. They come from different worlds—Darian, a model, never went to Uni, has a strong Essex accent, and lives with his nan. Ash, who’s five years older, comes from a world of privilege and went to Oxford. But Darian is open and accepting, and that made my heart sing.

Even someone as broken as Ash can, with the right person, find love.

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