Better late than never was my mantra as I pulled together this week’s list. Thanks to the Broke and the Bookish for hosting!
1. Tamsin – Peter S. Beagle
Beagle is one of my favourite authors, and he can write very beautiful, but melancholy stories. Tamsin is both a very hopeful and empowering book, but there are also extremely sad and effecting moments. You can’t help but feel for Jennifer when she is taken away from everything she once knew and deposited at a haunted farm.
2. The Last Unicorn – Peter S. Beagle
The Last Unicorn is basically the saddest love story ever. A unicorn realises that she has no idea what has happened to the rest of her kind, so she goes on a journey to find them. However, in order to save her from the fate suffered by the rest of her kin, a wizard turns the unicorn into a human. While still trying to figure out what happened to all the other unicorns, she starts to lose herself, and she falls in love with a prince. To save her people, though, she has to sacrifice this new life, and she becomes the only unicorn to ever know regret and true sadness. Beagle’s given readers a story of star-crossed lovers, and it never fails to make me weep.
3. Blue is the Warmest Colour – Julie Maroh
Blue is the Warmest Colour is a graphic novel told in flashback about a young woman named Clementine. When young, Clementine met a woman with blue hair, and suddenly her sexuality and desires stopped making sense to her. Though she tries to be straight, she is continually drawn to Emma, and eventually the two unite in a tumultuous and passionate relationship. However, their unstable partnership falls apart, and Clementine struggles develop into a deadly physical illness that leaves Emma alone with just the words that her lover wrote in a journal. I challenge anyone not to cry all their tears at that ending.
(As a note for those who have watched the film, the plot of the graphic novel differs dramatically, and is a very effecting and emotional experience in its own right).
4. Where the Red Fern Grows – Wilson Rawls
I am a total sap for books where animals die, and the deaths of Old Dan and Little Ann are particularly tragic. When I first read this novel as a child, I felt absolutely gutted. As an adult, I still feel misty-eyed when I even think about the ending. Lesson learned: Coming-of-age novels with animals are almost always going to try to destroy your poor heart.
5. The Amber Spyglass – Philip Pullman
Speaking of coming-of-age novels, The Amber Spyglass is another one that just makes my heart ache. After everything that they’ve been through together, Lyra and Will have to say goodbye and go back to their respective worlds. ALL THE SAD.
6. The Essential Dykes to Watch Out For – Alison Bechdel
A book that follows a community and all of their successes and obstacles over a period of multiple years is bound to make you cry at some point. The characters in this series fall in love, break-up, have children, move away, grow-up, develop cancer, cheat on each other, face discrimination and economic displacement, and generally go through all of the challenges and joys of life. Sometimes I laughed so hard that my gut ached, but other times I sobbed bitterly.
7. Flowers for Algernon -Daniel Keyes
Flowers for Algernon is about a man with severe mental disabilities who undergoes an operation that makes him a genius. Not only do you watch him come to the rapid realisation of how mean and cruel people around him were, but readers also see his reactions to the fact that the operation isn’t permanent, and the self-destruction that this inspires in him.
8. Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café
In writing this list, I realise that books that follow the lives of a person or a community are ones that tend to make me wibble and cry the most since you are privy to the biggest ups and downs for the characters. Fried Green Tomatoes has some of the most uplifting moments, but readers will have to get through some very sad losses and challenges to get to these.
9. Hunger Games Series – Suzanne Collins
The Hunger Games is an exceptionally depressing and emotionally difficult series. Lots of characters die in rather gruesome ways after having fought so hard against a corrupt system. However, it’s the ending of the book that is the truly depressing part. After the war is over, Katniss never recovers. She doesn’t get a happy ending; she just gets to be with the one person left who was used and abused by the system as much as she was. She probably suffers from horrific PTSD for the rest of her life, and almost everyone she cared about is dead or has been irrevocably changed by the events of the books.
10. Love You Forever – Robert Munsch
Not going to lie, I cry every time I read this book. Munsch has managed to capture some of the most positive and powerful feelings between children and their mothers in only thirty pages. Well, if you just ignore the possible stalking imagery… In any case, I totally fall for this nostalgic story of unconditional and life-long familial love.