BookTrib is excited to present its monthly article in partnership with the Women’s Fiction Writers Association (WFWA). WFWA is an international professional organization for writers of women’s fiction with over a thousand members.

October is Mental Health Awareness Month, and this year the discussion of emotional well-being is more important than ever. Ranging from sweeping romance to poignant memoirs, these books give a voice to the sufferers of the diseases and conditions that fall into this medical category. Here are seven reads that tackle the complicated topic of mental health.


Secret Lives of Mothers & Daughters by Anita Kushwaha
HarperCollins (January 2020)

Topics: Suicide, post-partum depression

Veena, Mala and Nandini are three very different women with something in common. Out of love, each bears a secret that will haunt her life — and that of her daughter — when the risk of telling the truth is too great. But secrets have consequences. Particularly to Asha, the young woman on the cusp of adulthood who links them together. On the day after her eighteenth birthday, Asha is devastated to learn that she was adopted as a baby. What’s more, her birth mother died of a mysterious illness shortly before then, leaving Asha with only a letter. Nandini, Asha’s adoptive mother, has always feared the truth would come between them. Three mothers, bound by love, deceit and a young woman who connects them all. Secret Lives of Mothers & Daughters is an intergenerational novel about family, duty and the choices we make in the name of love.


(Im)perfectly Happy by Sharina Harris
Kensington Publishing Corporation (April 2020)

Topics: Depression, sexual abuse, parental neglect, alcoholism

Radio personality Raina hates the wholesome persona that’s made her a success. Doling out syrupy versions of her grandma’s wisdom feels worlds away from the sarcastic, blunt woman Raina really is. Kara Jones was sure she’d be a master sommelier by thirty but life and loss interfered with that plan. Now she has one more chance — but it’s taking a toll on her self-esteem and her marriage. Nikki Grayson hardly recognizes the stay-at-home mom she’s become. When her band signed a record deal, she swapped the limelight for a minivan and a sensible ‘do. Now she’s wishing she had followed her heart. Instead, she’s drowning her regret in alcohol. Public defender Sienna Njeri willingly put her city council aspirations aside to support her fiancé’s bid for office — and now she’s wondering if her loyalty is misplaced. Longing for the support, advice and tough love they once shared, all four of these old friends resolve to start meeting up again. After all, their dreams may still be within reach. But are they worth the price they’ll pay to achieve them?


The Lilac House by Barbara Josselsohn
Bookouture (March 2020)

Topic: OCD

Summer escapes to Lilac House have always been a source of comfort for Anna Harris. Though things will never be the same since the death of her husband Greg, she knows that it is there, nestled in Lake Summers in the heart of the Adirondack Mountains, that she and her children Zac and Evie can begin to build a new life. The house is just as beautiful as Anna remembers, and caught up in the rhythm of small-town life, helping her Aunt Hope run the little shop on Main Street, Anna begins to feel a sense of herself she hasn’t felt in years. Then she meets Aidan. Handsome, strong and quiet, he also knows what it’s like to lose someone. In each other they recognise something they’ve both been missing and they feel a spark. But Aidan’s past holds a different set of complications. He’s hiding a secret about why he came to Lake Summers. And just as the Lilac House finally starts to feel like home, Anna learns something devastating about Greg’s death that makes her question everything.


Duty and Desire by Anju Gattani
Scarsdale Publishing Ltd. (June 2020)

Topic: Emotional Abuse

To uphold family honor and tradition, Sheetal Prasad is forced to forsake the man she loves and marry playboy millionaire Rakesh Dhanraj while the citizens of Raigun, India, watch in envy. On her wedding night, however, Sheetal quickly learns that the stranger she married is as cold as the marble floors of the Dhanraj mansion. Forced to smile at family members and cameras and pretend there’s nothing wrong with her marriage, Sheetal begins to discover that the family she married into harbors secrets, lies and deceptions powerful enough to tear apart her world. With no one to rely on and no escape, Sheetal must ally with her husband in an attempt to protect her infant son from the tyranny of his family.


The Promise Between Us by Barbara Claypole White
Lake Union Publishing (January 2018)

Topic: Postpartum OCD

Metal artist Katie Mack is living a lie. Nine years ago she ran away from her family in Raleigh, North Carolina, consumed by the irrational fear that she would harm Maisie, her newborn daughter. Over time she’s come to grips with the mental illness that nearly destroyed her, and now funnels her pain into her art. Despite longing for Maisie, Katie honors an agreement with the husband she left behind — to change her name and never return. But when she and Maisie accidentally reunite, Katie can’t ignore the familiarity of her child’s compulsive behavior. Worse, Maisie worries obsessively about bad things happening to her pregnant stepmom. Katie has the power to help, but can she reconnect with the family she abandoned?


The Art of Falling by Kathryn Craft
Sourcebooks Landmark (January 2014)

Topic: Body dysmorphia

All Penny has ever wanted to do is dance ― and when that chance is taken from her, it pushes her to the brink of despair, from which she might never return. When she wakes up after a traumatic fall, bruised and battered but miraculously alive, Penny must confront the memories that have haunted her for years, using her love of movement to pick up the pieces of her shattered life. A portrayal of a young woman trying to come to terms with her body and the artistic world that has repeatedly rejected her, The Art of Falling expresses the beauty of movement, the stasis of despair, and the unlimited possibilities that come with a new beginning.


The Process of Fraying by Jess Neal Woods
Self published (January 2019)

Topics: Depression, Anxiety

Violet is a pillar of hospitality and compassion within her community. As a farmer’s wife and mother of a large brood, she is resolute, thrifty and charming. The life that is woven between the land and her family is one of harmony and beauty. When she begins to struggle with depression, her demeanor changes. At first, the change is subtle, but it becomes increasingly problematic as Violet struggles with bouts of incapacitating depression and anxiety and visions of self-harm. Having no real understanding of what is happening within her, Violet turns to both the religious and medical communities for guidance. Both fail her. With her identity stripped away and her family reeling from the aftermath, Violet must determine if she can make peace with the changes within herself before she is consumed by them.