Nicola Morgan

Author, Speaker, Supporter

Understanding and Supporting Your Teenagers – the video

Question from a school about books – and you can help me answer

A few months ago, you may remember I ran a competition called #AskNicolaMorgan, in which schools chose three questions to ask me and I would answer at least one from each school and award prizes for the best. I’ve done that, but there are more questions I’d like to answer. And one of them ties in with the book I’m writing, Body Brilliant.

Haggerston School (which, incidentally, came second in the competition, which, incidentally, led to them working with me on Body Brilliant – how’s that for a circle?!) asked this question:

“Aside from your own, are there any books (fiction or non-fiction) you would recommend young people read to help them make sense of growing up in the 21st century?”

I won’t exactly answer that (because I think school librarians know better than I do all the books that would fit the bill) but I would love to twist the question slightly. One of the things I’m doing in Body Brilliant is provide a selection of age-appropriate novels and factual books that tackle each topic I’m covering. Now, I’ve got some already but here’s where YOU come in: please suggest some more!

Before you do, please note:

  1. The books must be printed, not just ebooks
  2. They must not be self-published
  3. They must be appropriate for ages from 10/11 to 16. If you’re recommending a book that would only be ideal for the upper end of that, please say.
  4. They must do a good job of getting under the skin of the character going through whatever challenge it is.

Here are the topics I need to cover:

Eating/exercising disorders – food restricting/over-exercising, weight/emotional/control issues

There are a lot of books on these topics but I’m happy for more so that I can cover the whole range of issues around this complex area. I definitely need some with boy main characters. I’d also like a few more that take over-exercising as the main theme and also any that focus on boys and gym culture. I also need the books to be sensitive, as this is a very triggering area.

Jelly by Jo Cotterill

Blubber by Judy Blume

Big Bones by Laura Dockrill

Summer’s Dream by Cathy Cassidy

Splash by Charlie Howard

Massive by Julia Bell


Plastic/cosmetic surgery

Sara’s Face by Melvin Burgess

Uglies by Scott Westerfield

(I haven’t managed to finish reading either of these yet. Struggling a bit. They may be too old?) Can you think of anything more realistic rather than dystopian?



Catalyst by Laurie Halse Anderson (This isn’t exactly about body perfectionism but it is about perfectionism in general and the MC over-exercises. Searing book, btw.)


Disfigurement or visible difference

Izzy, willy-nilly by Cynthia Voigt

Deenie by Judy Blume

Tall Story by Candy Gourlay

One by Sarah Crossan

Wonder by RJ Palacio


Gender transitioning or questioning

George by Alex Gino

If I was Your Girl by Meredith Russo



My mind has gone blank – help me out! (There are quite a few novels with LGBQ characters/issues but I’m specifically looking for stories that have body image as a feature and this may be harder to find.)

Body Dysmorphic Disorder

There must be some!

CBT/talking therapy

Any novels where the character has talking therapy for any anxiety disorders.

Am I Normal Yet? by Holly Bourne


Where the Internet/social media affects body image – including any stories where someone is bullied/trolled for appearance and also where internet porn is a feature


Or anything else that says something about body image, either positive or negative


I’m also looking for non-fiction, of course

I have:

Trans Mission – my quest to a beard by Alex Bertie

Body Positive Power by Megan Jayne Crabbe

Misfit – one size does not fit all by Charli Howard


Over to you, readers, librarians and other experts! Add your comments and I’ll start adding the ones I want to my lists. THANK YOU!




6 Responses

  1. Out of my mind by Sharon Draper – 11-12 year olds for the most part but a good book for teens and adults who want some understanding of what it is like to be so severely physically disabled that you do not even have the capacity to speak.

  2. Some excellent books worth a mention on LGBTQ issues: Simon vs the HomoSapien Agenda by Becky Albertelli; Aristotle and Dante discover the secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz , books by Juno Dawson – Gender Games, This books is gay; David Leviathan – Will Grayson, Will Grayson and Two boys kissing. All probably 13+

    1. Many thanks, Helen. I’m focusing only on body image aspects, so a bit more specific than I think those books are. But thanks for the suggestions – they’ll be great in a section on LGBTQ mental health issues.

  3. Optimists Die First by Susin Nielsen. For Y9 and above, the story is based around an art therapy group for the protagonist’s numerous anxieties, which many people experience to a lesser extent.

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