Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Tough Topics in Fiction

 Weekly Blog Prompt

Today's Prompt: Books That Deal Well With Tough Topics

I've been meaning to jump into this challenge for some time, and keep ending up using whatever writing time I can find to ... well, write/edit/publish. This one, though, dragged me right in because it's up my alley.

I'll admit it. I read big books with tough topics. Regularly. I also read fun things in between and I have a particular penchant for cozy mysteries. I suppose reading literary fiction is my way of trying to figure out the world. I like to see things from so many other viewpoints in order to get that balance that makes things make sense. Things do make sense when you read widely enough.

Some of those books that stand out in my reading memory include:

~~ The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare

I read this way back when and it's an eye-opening novel about a young girl raised in Barbados who must move to Puritan New England, and the cultural differences that mark her as an outcast.

~~ The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
I assume almost everyone read this one in school, but it stuck with me because the unfairness of the situation was infuriating.

~~ The Cider House Rules by John Irving
Also a well-read novel, at least many years ago, it was well-read. I like that it showed both sides of the abortion issue, the disgust the main character had of the practice and the desperation of unwed young girls.

More recently:
~~ A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park
A short YA book (which I almost never read) that tells the story of a young girl who must make a 2 hour walk to find water for her family and a young boy who becomes a refugee and travels on foot to avoid being recruited as a soldier. An important read to aid in understanding of other cultures.

~~ East of Eden by John Steinbeck
Just read it. Seriously.

~~ A Prologue to Love by Taylor Caldwell
This one, too. (It's often marked as a romance, but it's lit fic.)

~~ America, America by Ethan Canin
Highlights the powerful connection between the government and the media, based loosely on the Kennedys.

I could go on and on, but I'll leave it at this. Of course, since I read books with tough subjects, I also write them. A brief list so far:

Pier Lights: Professional loss, personal loss, physical and mental scars, mental illness

Shadowed Lights: Social anxiety disorder, weather devastation

Pieces of Light: Autism, failed marriage, family expectations

Shadows of Greens & Memories: Outcast stigma, family issues, dementia

Shadows of Blues & Echoes: Depression, long-term illness

Shadows of Rust & Reels: Bipolar disorder, job loss, family loss

My purpose in writing about these topics is the same reason I read tough subjects: to try to spread understanding and alternate points of view. I also believe in leaving stories on an upbeat note, and not everything I read does this, but I do. They are lit fic, but they're also happy/upbeat ending romances shedding light on dark subjects.

Do you read tough fiction? Share books in the comments that you think deserve attention for adding light to the dark.


  1. I loved The Scarlet Letter and totally agree with you. Hester wound up carrying all the guilt on her shoulders.

    And welcome, by the way! I don't always blog on the topics, but I do always come visit those who do. :)

  2. Welcome to the Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge! I'm glad you decided to join in.

    The Cider House Rules was an amazing book. Have you seen the film based on it, too? It was also excellent.

    And, yeah, The Scarlet Letter made me angry as well. Poor Hester was treated so unfairly.

    My post.

  3. East of Eden is possibly the only Steinbeck book I found palatable. I still have my copy of The Witch of Blackbird Pond that I bought 30+ years ago on the Scholastic Book order. These are really good choices!

  4. I love the choices you have. Great list.

  5. A good list it even has some books I've read.

  6. Glad you joined us... and I had forgotten about The Witch of Blackbird Pond. It's been years... I need to re-read that. And, I loved The Scarlet Letter! My post is here.

  7. Good list. I'll have to look into these.