Top Ten Tuesdays – Death Becomes Her

I stressed out about this list – what would I put on a syllabus if I could choose to teach anything… Yikes. I don’t know why, but I really wanted to come up with something that could actually be used in a classroom. I have a friend who’s an English teacher. I send her book suggestions all the time. I feel like this list is important, even though it’s really just for me. I also didn’t want it to seem like a repeat of the lists I’ve done in the past. I thought about gender roles and female representation. Group mentality. Collective behaviour. Male protagonists. Self-discovery.

What I ended up doing was going through my Goodreads list and jotting down every book I think would be interesting to discuss in a group setting. I then had to whittle the list down a lot. A lot! If I’d let my OCD take over, I would have pulled out my old university syllabuses and went through what I read then to see what fit where, but that’s just too much research for a TTT post.

I finally decided on Death and Dying in Young Adult Fiction. This was one of my favourite sociology courses, and since I like my books dark, it seems appropriate. I’ve listed an initial discussion perspective for each of the books. There are probably deeper levels we would get to through discussion, but this isn’t a real class. It’s just the idea of a class.


The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly by Stephanie Oakes

Collective behaviour towards torture and death when religion and faith are involved. As well as the treatment of girls involved in crimes related to death.


This is Not a Test by Courtney Summers

Death as an instrument of release from a lifetime of torment. How does mass catastrophe impact the way individuals deal with death.


We Were Liars by e. lockhart

Death and mental illness. The destructive nature of family in the face of extreme loss.


Paper Valentine by Brenna Yovanoff

Teens forced to deal with the death of a peer and the idea of mortality.


Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson

How do you deal with a death from an illness you also suffer from. In this case, an out of control eating disorder.


Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

Where does blame really lie when it comes to suicide. How to deal with teen suicide before and after.


Far From You by Tess Sharpe

Coping in the loss of not only friendship but romantic love.


Ballads of Suburbia by Stephanie Kuehnert

Reflecting on drug abuse, overdosing, and death


A Certain Slant of Light by Laura Whitcomb

From the perspective of two ghosts, the most interesting aspects of this novel is actually about the idea of a soul leaving its body while the host is still alive. This would probably be a theologically slanted discussion.


We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson

The impact of the loss of parents on their children. Denial of actions leading to death.

Any other suggestions for this “class”? Anything else you’d want to talk about on any specific book?


18 thoughts on “Top Ten Tuesdays – Death Becomes Her

  1. This class sounds terrifying, lol. I’m a happy ending escapist literature girl myself, but I do have We Have Always Lived in the Castle on my tbr. Great list! Maybe add Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys? There’s a lot of death in that, though it isn’t the main focus of the novel.

  2. Love the list. I had two of yours on mine, but now I find eight more that I’ll need to put on my TBR. 🙂 My TTT-

  3. I also kinda struggled to think of a topic for this week’s list – I wanted to have a topic that I could readily think of ten books for, but also one that wasn’t a straight carbon copy of the lists I’ve already made.

    As someone whose list also featured dark reads this week (Dark Fiction 101 to be exact), I enjoyed your Top Ten! We Have Always Lived in the Castle has been on my to-read list for the last couple of years. I hadn’t heard of most of the other books but will need to give them a look! Thanks for the new reads.

  4. This would be a great class. I think it’s a shame that it’s not really something that gets discussed. Definitely added a few to my TBR.

    • I agree. We treat death very strangely and talk about it in hushed tones – especially around children and teens. It so important to talk to them about what it really means. I wish this was something we talked about more often and openly.

  5. Sociology of Death and Dying combined with its depiction in YA Lit? Sold! I kind of wish the high school level ELA classes weren’t survey courses because I would love students to have the opportunity to choose their ELA classes based on topic (kind of like in university). I would also love to structure my courses this way, so that students could develop their thinking on the topic over the semester.

    • I think it would be awesome if upper level high school classes were structured more like university courses. It would give students an idea what they were in for and allow them to experience cognitive development around thematic application instead of just tunnel vision on a specific book.
      Also, I think this class would have been super fun to take.

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