Let’s face it — sometimes we need to have a good cry. I’ve often been scolded by friends for my preference for “depressing” books, but there are times when I just want something with more emotional depth than a comedy, an action, a mystery, or anything else.
Sometimes, I just want a book that tugs at the heartstrings. And for me, nothing has me reaching for the tissues faster than these ten tear-jerkers.
(Note: There are spoilers in several of these. Tread carefully!)
My Top Ten Tear-jerkers
10. “Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim” – David Sedaris
I’m sure some of you recognise that name, and are thinking, “Jess, in what universe is it possible for a humourist writer to make you cry?” Well, I’ll tell you, sceptical readers. Yes, Sedaris is a funny, funny man. But in this book, there is one story called “Repeat After Me”. In typical style, he has you rolling on the floor as he tells you about writing his family into his works; however, this story is, in a nutshell, an apology to his sister. Tears of laughter turned to tears of an entirely different kind.
9. “Warriors: Forest of Secrets” – Erin Hunter
Warriors is a loooong series from my childhood (and continuing today). The books follow the lives of wild cats living in a forest; it is a deep universe, complete with warrior ceremonies, different clans, intense traditions, prophecies, love and loss. The book listed here is the third book from the first series, in which one of the character’s leaves his own clan for another, leaving the protagonist heartbroken at the loss of his best friend. The writing in these books is simple, and, looking back, there were numerous mistakes and plot-holes. But if you can make you reader sob over a cat who hasn’t even died, then you must be doing something right.
8. “Forever” – Maggie Stiefvater
The third and final book in the amazing Shiver trilogy, Forever is perfect in demonstrating the way that a good author can make you love a character whom you know very little about. More importantly, Sam, one of the central protagonists, delves so deeply into your heart that the tear-jerker scene in this book leaves you absolutely devastated. Emotive writing at its greatest.
7. “Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince” – J.K. Rowling
Fans, I’m sure, will know what I’m talking about. Don’t get me wrong — there are dozens of scenes in the series that break my heart. For example, (SPOILERS), there’s Dobby’s death, Fred’s death, Snape’s memories, Voldemort’s body being pushed aside, et cetera. But no matter how may times I’ve read the sixth book (and I’ve read it many times), Dumbledore’s death get to me. Every. Single. Time. At least I know to read it in a private place…
6. “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay” – Suzanne Collins
I won’t say much here, as I don’t wish to spoil it for those who are keeping up with the films, rather than the books. But fans will know exactly what made me cry at the end of this trilogy. Pass the tissues! I was afraid to see the sixth Harry Potter in cinemas, as I didn’t wish to embarrass myself with the inevitable blubbering. Well, I am just as afraid of seeing this final film. For those of you who haven’t any idea what I’m talking about, this should give you a pretty good idea for the sad-factor.
5. “Before I Die” – Jenny Downham
If a book is called Before I Die, and is about a cancer-ridden sixteen year-old going through her bucket list, it is probably safe to say that the girl is going to die, and it is definitely safe to say that you’re going to shed a tear. Or, if you me, you’re going to gush copious amounts of liquid from your eyes, until your Mum comes into the room to ask if you’d like to go down town with her and is suddenly very concerned for your mental state.
4. “Cleo” – Helen Brown
Cleo is the true story of how a small black cat helped heal a family after the loss of a son to a road accident. It was a confusing blend — somehow heart-breaking and heart-warming at the same time. Nevertheless, with the devastating loss of Helen’s son in the beginning, and the inevitable passing of Cleo at the end, you know you’ve got a tear-jerker on you hands with this one.
3. “My Sister’s Keeper” – Jodi Picoult
I’ve never been a big fan of Picoult’s work, but My Sister’s Keeper was the exception. In keeping with my personal preferences, I avoided the film like a plague, choosing to watch it after I’d read the book. Well, I read the book and cried buckets at the beautiful relationships and disheartening losses. Tissues ready, I tackled the film. I will say only this: if you’ve seen the film but not read the book, read the book. The conclusions are entirely different.
2. “The Time Traveller’s Wife” – Audrey Niffenegger
The incredible story of a man with the uncontrollable ability to time-travel, and his long-suffering, devoted wife — sounds like pure fantasy and romance. I should’ve known there’d be a few tear-jerking moments in there, but I was caught unaware by the ending. Henry and Clare’s relationship feels real, which makes their every triumph and trial a real punch to the ol’ heart. Understandably, when the pair are torn apart, I sobbed like a baby. But it was in that final “reunion” scene that depression really crash-tackled me.
…and the Number #1 book that makes me cry is:
1. “Thunderwith” – Libby Hathorn
(Again, MAJOR SPOILERS.) Set in the Australian bush, Thunderwith tells the story of Lara, a teenage girl who, after the death of her mother (sad), is sent to live with her father. Ostracised by her father’s new family (sad), she attempts to move on with her life. Bullied at home and at school (sad), she seeks solace in the bush — and here she finds Thunderwith, a beautiful golden dog who arrives in the midst of a thunderstorm. Lara is convinced that her mother sent Thunderwith to her. This dog feels like a connection to her Mum and is the only thing that makers Lara’s lonely life bearable… and then he is shot. Libby Hathorn kills Thunderwith. That’s not normal-sad. That’s oh-my-god-shoot-me-in-the-face-because-I-don’t-want-to-live-in-a-world-without-that-fictional-dog-sad.
Well played, Hathorn. Well played.
- Love The Bad Guy