Tear-Jerking Books That’ll Have You Reaching for the Tissues
I cry in books, movies, TV commercials, sad songs, when a kid drops their ice-cream ‒ you get the gist. Stories are powerful ‒ kids dropping their ice-cream is devastating ‒ and they move me. I get all the feels.
I love books like that. They depict and examine the worst possible things in life, but they also remind us of the best: love, hope, loyalty, family and dogs. (The dog thing will make sense in a second.)
So grab the Kleenex ‒ you’re in for a wild ride.
1. A Dog's Purpose
by Bruce Cameron
Anyone who’s ever liked a good-boy dog meme, or watched a YouTube video of a dog trying to use a hula hoop will love this book. Bailey is a dedicated and loyal dog, who loves ‘his boy’ but is searching for his purpose in life. But just when he thinks he’s found it, he has to start all over again.
If you want to get deep, it’s a metaphor for human life and our search for purpose. How our happy, our hardest and our painful experiences get us to where we need to be. Plus, Bailey is the sweetest dog and he will have you in tears ‒ of sadness and laughter.
(P.S. Don’t read the blurb on Goodreads – it gives away the main element of the story. Just download it / borrow it / buy it. Guaranteed awww’s.)
2. A Little Life
by Hanya Yanagihara
Buckle up for the MOST emotionally draining book you’ll ever read. The journey of four friends ‒ Willem, Jude, Malcolm and JB ‒ from their twenties to middle age. The pain, the heartbreak, the breakthroughs and the break ups ‒ but most of all, the childhood experiences they can never escape from.
I read an interview with the author after I finished the book. I wanted to know how she’d captured pain so accurately. In one article Yanagihara said she fought with her editor to keep the horror of Jude’s story intact. He told her she should leave things unsaid and “give the reader a break.” But Yanagihara’s point was people LIVE through this sh*t, and we can't even read it?
I cried approximately 11 times. And I don’t mean one glistening tear on my cheek, I mean ugly sobbing. One night I made my boyfriend hug me for 15 minutes after I read a chapter because I felt so alone in this big bad world. This book is not for the faint hearted, it will shatter you. It’s like nothing you’ve ever read before ‒ all the more reason to read it asap.
3. My Sister’s Keeper
by Jodi Picoult
This is a classic for me. It was the first Jodi Picoult book I ever read and I just loved it. I still do. I know what happens and I still cry.
Kate has acute promyelocytic leukemia, an awful blood and bone marrow cancer. Her sister, Anna, is what they call a “saviour baby”. Meaning Anne was born, in fact made, to donate blood, marrow and body parts to Kate. Anna loves her sister. But when she’s told she'll have to donate a kidney ‒ major surgery, that will have life-long impact ‒ Anna hires a lawyer to get medically emancipated from her parents. The fall out is drastic.
The whole story is one big tear jerker. If you haven’t read it, please do.
4. A Fault in Our Stars
by John Green
Hazel is terminal. Her life is all about terminal cancer and on her fight to survive. Until she meets Augustus Waters at Cancer Kid Support Group.
Suddenly she's more than terminal – she's a teenage girl. What's more tragic – love or cancer?
My guess? You’re tearing up already.
5. The Art of Racing in the Rain
by Garth Stein
I know, I know. Two dog books. Get a grip. BUT DOGS ARE SO GREAT! Plus writing as a dog gives such an innocent and honest perspective. The Art of Racing in the Rain is really about human life ‒ but through a dog’s eyes, with no bias or defensiveness.
Enzo is a clever dog, a TV junkie ‒ it’s how he learnt so much ‒ who has an obsession with opposable thumbs. Enzo observes the life of his human, Denny, who is an up-and-coming race car driver. He watches his wins and his losses, both on the race track and at home.
Heart-wrenching but deeply funny. It’s human life ‒ but through the eyes of a dog. The best way to look at life really.