5 Must-Read Novels About PTSD

5 Must-Read Novels About PTSD

Once known as “shell shock” and “combat neurosis”, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) afflicts 3.5 percent of American adults and develops after a person is exposed to a traumatic situation such as warfare. These 5 must-read novels explore PTSD through fiction.

1. The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson

“For the past five years, Hayley Kincaid and her father, Andy, have been on the road, never staying long in one place as he struggles to escape the demons that have tortured him since his return from Iraq. Now they are back in the town where he grew up so Hayley can attend school. Perhaps, for the first time, Hayley can have a normal life, put aside her own painful memories, even have a relationship with Finn, the hot guy who obviously likes her but is hiding secrets of his own. Will being back home help Andy’s PTSD, or will his terrible memories drag him to the edge of hell, and drugs push him over? The Impossible Knife of Memory is Laurie Halse Anderson at her finest: compelling, surprising, and impossible to put down.”

2. A Month in the Country by J.L. Carr

“In J. L. Carr’s deeply charged poetic novel, Tom Birkin, a veteran of the Great War and a broken marriage, arrives in the remote Yorkshire village of Oxgodby where he is to restore a recently discovered medieval mural in the local church. Living in the bell tower, surrounded by the resplendent countryside of high summer, and laboring each day to uncover an anonymous painter’s depiction of the apocalypse, Birkin finds that he himself has been restored to a new, and hopeful, attachment to life. But summer ends, and with the work done, Birkin must leave. Now, long after, as he reflects on the passage of time and the power of art, he finds in his memories some consolation for all that has been lost.”

3. In the Weeds by Mark Ozeroff

“An absurdist tale of gas, grass, ass, and Vietnam. War has made Air Force pilot Slats Kisov an adrenaline junkie. Using his exceptional low-and-slow flying skills, he smuggles marijuana into Florida from the Bahamas. Will Slats’ former battles with the Viet Cong, hijackers, PTSD, and Mother Nature prepare him for his most perilous battle of all―the one he must wage against Chief Bobby Ray Pistle? Strap yourself in and get ready for a bumpy ride. And one spectacular landing!”

4. Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut

“Adapted for a magnificent George Roy Hill film three years later (perhaps the only film adaptation of a masterpiece which exceeds its source), Slaughterhouse-Five (1969) is the now famous parable of Billy Pilgrim, a World War II veteran and POW, who has in the later stage of his life become ‘unstuck in time’ and who experiences at will (or unwillingly) all known events of his chronology out of order and sometimes simultaneously.”

5. The Hummingbird by Stephen P. Kiernan

“Deborah Birch is a seasoned hospice nurse whose daily work requires courage and compassion. But her skills and experience are tested in new and dramatic ways when her easygoing husband, Michael, returns from his third deployment to Iraq haunted by nightmares, anxiety, and rage. She is determined to help him heal, and to restore the tender, loving marriage they once had.”

 

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IN THE WEEDS by Mark Ozeroff