UKYA FORTNIGHT: Guest post by Amber Kirk-Ford from The Mile Long Bookshelf

I am super excited to be sharing this guest post with you today. Amber runs The Mile Long Bookshelf which is one of my favourite blogs. I’ve assured her that this guest post is brilliant and I’m sure you’ll all think the same; it’s her first guest post!

I know a lot of people are firmly against books with difficult subjects, for example books that may revolve around cancer, bereavement, mental illness or abuse. But I would really like to see more of these subjects in UKYA books!

Reading them can help you to relate to people you know who might be going through similar things, and understand what might be happening to them/how they may be feeling. These are subjects that are difficult to talk about, so having them covered in books that are easy to access for young people is really important.

I have read a few articles that refer to these books as ‘sick-lit’, which is quite a horrible derogatory term in my opinion. People think that reading about these subjects encourages us to do things like self harm, when that really isn’t the case at all. If these subjects aren’t written about, how will young adults ever learn to be comfortable with them?

Some amazing UKYA books I’ve read that touch on these subjects are Anthem for Jackson Dawes by Celia Bryce, Pretty Little Thirteen by Liz Coley and….I can’t think of any others. Just goes to show that there really aren’t that many books out there that deal with these things.

What are everyone else’s thoughts on this?


Amber is the 14 year old book blogger behind The Mile Long Bookshelf. She enjoys reading, writing, drawing and basically anything creative! When she is older she wants to be a freelance journalist. She loves YA books and her favourite authors include Suzanne Collins, J.K. Rowling, Luisa Plaja and Cat Patrick.

Lucy Powrie

Lucy Powrie is a blogger, YouTuber and author from the UK. When she's not reading, she enjoys cuddling guinea pigs and eating Oreo chocolate, but let's be real: she's mostly always reading.


  1. Reply

    Rachel (Booktastic Reviews) :D

    25 July, 2013

    This is a great guest post! I definitely don’t think that these sort-of books should be referred to as ‘sick-lit’ – they should be cherished! Authors have taken their time to approach delicate subjects in their YA books that they feel teenagers should be aware of. John Green’s quite famous for it!

    An amazing UKYA book that comes to mind is Cat Clarke’s Entangled. Well, I *think* she lives in the UK! *goes away to check* Yeah, she does! 😉

    • Reply

      Amber @ The Mile Long Bookshelf

      25 July, 2013

      I really really really wanted to mention The Fault in Our Stars but John Green isn’t British 🙁

      Ooh I’ve read Entangled, I completely forgot! 😀

  2. Reply

    Amber @ The Mile Long Bookshelf

    25 July, 2013

    Thanks for asking me to participate in your UKYA Fortnight! Really enjoyed writing this post. 🙂

  3. Reply

    Zoe Crook

    25 July, 2013

    SLOTHY! AMBER! I totally agree with everything you said. Books being referred to as sick-lit is really bad – UKYA should touch upon it more. John Green (I know he’s not a UKYA author, but still) writes about homosexuality, cancer etc and he is an amazing writer. Entangled and When I Was Joe are great books for this too.

    Thanks for the great guest post 🙂

    • Reply

      Amber @ The Mile Long Bookshelf

      25 July, 2013

      SLOTHY! ZOE! Thank you! Ooh I’ve read When I Was Joe too, but that was years ago. I think UKYA could really do with some new books like this. 🙂

  4. Reply


    25 July, 2013

    Have you read Before I Die by Jenny Downham? Kinda similar to TFIOS but a bit grittier. And British. Personally, I’m not a fan of these sort of books but I absolutely think they have value and should be published and we should have more of them. Great post!

    Cait x

    • Reply

      Amber @ The Mile Long Bookshelf

      25 July, 2013

      I haven’t read it. For some reason I think Lucy has, but I’m not sure? Will have to check it out! Thanks 🙂

  5. Reply

    Debbie Turner

    25 July, 2013

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  6. Reply

    Debbie Turner

    25 July, 2013

    Great post Amber! I love ‘sick-lit’ and totally agree that we should be promoting it MORE, not hiding it! Other ones I can think of is Ketchup Clouds by Annabel Pitcher and Tabitha Suzumas books!

    • Reply

      Amber @ The Mile Long Bookshelf

      25 July, 2013

      Thanks Debbie! Ooh I haven’t read Ketchup Clouds but lots of blogs have given it positive reviews. Must check it out!

  7. Reply


    25 July, 2013

    Good post. Books with serious subjects like this are dealt with in abundance in adult novels, think Jodi Picoult for one really famous example. You are right, more should be appearing suitable for the UKYA market. I recommend Julie Bertagna’s book, The Opposite of Chocolate, which deals with teen pregnancy, and Junk by Melvin Burgess. Both UK authors!

  8. Reply


    17 May, 2016


    this is really nice post


  9. Reply


    3 February, 2018

    We appreciate your suggestion!

  10. Reply


    5 February, 2018

    Thank you for your thorough research and clear writing.


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