I am an incredibly weepy television watcher. I don’t just cry over shows that are actually sad, like Six Feet Under. (I fully admit to going through half a box of tissues during the last five minutes of the finale. Who’s with me?) I cry over My So-Called Life. I get teary over The West Wing. I have, on multiple occasions, full-on cried over So You Think You Can Dance. I used to cry over Glee, which I didn’t even like. (Please don’t judge me.)
The problem is that I’m extremely succeptible to stirring, manipulative music. So because I always read in silence, books very rarely make me cry, even though they usually affect me WAY more than anything on a screen. So few books have brought me to tears that I can easily rattle off the complete list. And because they’re so rare, I feel like my tears are an excellent literary litmus test. If a book makes me cry, I know there’s something special going on.
Here are all the books that have ever made me cry. (Getting choked up doesn’t count; there must be big, fat, salty tears running down my face.)
I read this book when I was in fourth grade, and I have a very vivid memory of sitting in my living room, crying over the poor, abused horses. I still can’t handle cruelty to animals in books. (I’m looking at you, Patrick Ness.) I also have a clear memory of realizing how very powerful books were.
Pink and Say, by Patricia Polacco
This is a picture book about a young white soldier and a young African American soldier who become friends during the Civil War. As you might have guessed from its place on this list, things don’t work out so well for them. I discovered this book in middle school, and my friend Adam and I wept over it together. I have yet to show this book to an adult who can read it and keep it together.
The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak
I’ve read this book twice, and I was not nearly as affected the second time. But there’s a reunion of two people near the end of the book that made me completely lose it the first time around. Unfortunately, I was on an airplane at the time. Sorry, fellow passengers.
Jellicoe Road, by Melina Marchetta
The last two pages of this book caused me to fall apart in exactly the same way while waiting on a subway platform. Again, I would like to apologize to my fellow travelers. I can be a bit of a hazard when I read in public.
Mockingbird, by Kathryn Erskine
All it took from this book was one line near the end, and I was GONE. I don’t want to ruin anything for you, so I won’t say more. But let me assure you that Mockingbird deserves all the press it has gotten.
The Sky is Everywhere, by Jandy Nelson
I’m not gonna lie, I was very skeptical about this book, which is about a girl dealing with the sudden death of her older sister. I resisted liking it until about halfway through. But by the time I got to the end, Jandy Nelson had me by the heart and was wringing the tears out of me. Immediately upon finishing the book, I called my sister and thanked her for being alive. I think she was a bit confused.
How to Save a Life, by Sara Zarr
Though there are many tearjerking things about this book, I actually cried at the happiest part. I fear getting all spoilerific if I elaborate, but… guys. You want to read this. It maaaay be my favorite thing I’ve read this year.
If I Stay, by Gayle Forman
There was some serious weepage going on with this book. I’m lucky that I was safely ensconced in my bed while reading it. Again, I got through the saddest parts dry-eyed, but the part at the end with the earbuds… I’m sure many of you know what I’m talking about. *sniff*
Margarettown, by Gabrielle Zevin
This book holds the title for being the only adult book ever to make me cry. It also gets the award for being the only book ever to make me cry TWICE, in two different parts. It’s an extremely odd little story, but I definitely read it at the right time.
What are your most tearjerking books? Tell me in comments!