Happy Tuesday, Savvy Readers!
As you may know by now, I’ve got a bit of a reputation as a cry-reader. I just fall so hard and so fast for these characters! Check out our Top 10 Books for When You Need a Good Cry… just make sure you’ve got some tissues handy.
The Orphan’s Tale by Pam Jenoff
Set in WWII, The Orphan’s Tale follows the stories of Noa and Astrid. Noa has been ostracized after becoming pregnant by a Nazi soldier at age sixteen. She is forced to give up her baby. When she discovers a boxcar with dozens of Jewish babies destined for a concentration camp, she steals one of them and flees. She finds refuge with a German circus, where she meets Astrid. Circus rivals at first, they soon form a strong and powerful friendship; but as the War goes on, the true strength of their bond is tested. Historical fiction, female friendships… I’ve got my tissues ready.
The Lonely Hearts Hotel by Heather O’Neill
This magical, heartbreaking novel is sure to open up the floodgates. In the early 1900s, Rose and Pierrot fall in love in their Montreal orphanage. They become separated in their teens and struggle to survive. 1930s Montreal is not kind to artists, and both Rose and Pierrot stumble into the dangerous worlds of drugs, brothels, and love. This is a love story, yes, but it’s so much more than that. I’ve read it twice now and I’m still so emotionally invested in Rose and Pierrot that I can’t help but weep.
In This Moment by Karma Brown
Karma Brown’s new novel has just reached the top of my #TBR list (and probably my #cryingforever list, too)! Meg seems to have everything she wants in life: successful career, happy family. She is picking up her daughter from school one day when she stops to wave a boy across the street – just as another car comes speeding down the road and hits him. Meg blames herself and does everything in her power to help the boy and his family as he recovers from the accident. Meg’s life has changed forever, and she has to decide if she can ever forgive herself.
My Lovely Wife in the Psych Ward by Mark Lukach
Get out your tissues, sweats, and a cup of tea (or two), because this memoir will break you (and then hopefully make you). Mark and Giulia had a near-perfect life. They fell in love at eighteen, got married at twenty-four, and were both living their best lives. Then Giulia suffered a terrifying and out-of-nowhere psychotic episode and ended up in the psych ward for almost a month. She fully recovered, and she and Mark had a son, Jonas. Soon after he was born, however, she suffered another breakdown, and another a few years after that. This amazing true story is written in Mark’s honest, compassionate voice. The love and devotion I felt when reading their story had me crying the whole way through. This is the best non-fiction you will read all year.
Everybody’s Son by Thirty Umrigar
Thirty Umrigar explores issues of race, class, and privilege in her new novel, Everybody’s Son. Ten-year-old Anton is locked in an apartment for seven days in the middle of a heat wave. In a desperate attempt to escape, he shatters a window and climbs out. His mother, Juanita, is discovered in a crack house and goes to jail while Anton is placed with child services. Harvard-educated son of a US senator, Judge David Coleman adopts Anton into his family. Anton follows in David’s footsteps and rises within the establishment. When he learns the truth about his birth mother and the circumstances of his adoption, he must examine his moral view of the crimes committed by the people he loves most.
Crying for the Moon by Mary Walsh
If you’re looking for Mary Walsh’s classic sense of humour, you’ve come to the wrong place. Mary Walsh changes pace in this dark, emotional debut. Maureen is the daughter of an abusive mother and alcoholic father, longing to escape her Catholic school and go to Montreal. One bad decision changes her life forever, and begins a series of horrible, dark times for Maureen. Her desperation and her never-ending spirit are so emotional to read, and I found myself tearing up at every twist and turn.
Little Sister by Barbara Gowdy
It’s been ten long years since we last heard from Barbara Gowdy, but Little Sister was worth the wait! Every time it storms, Rose loses consciousness and has vivid, realistic dream about being in another woman’s body. She desperately wants to understand what’s happening to her. Her mother is in the early stages of dementia and can’t stop talking about Rose’s younger sister, Ava, who died young in an accident. Rose is being pulled in all directions as she tries to keep control of her delusions and come to terms with a death for which she has always felt responsible. This is a story of motherhood, sisterhood, and the kind of love that lasts a lifetime and beyond.
I Carried You Home by Alan Gibney
Full disclosure: this book made me cry on a train, surrounded by strangers, with no tissues. Think about that before you read this in a public place. Ashe loses his brother in a car accident. His mother, the driver, survived… but that’s about it. Out of guilt, she refuses to leave her room for months. Ashe tries everything to get her out of her rut, and she eventually takes Ashe on a journey into her past. Told from fourteen-year-old Ashe’s point of view, I Carried You Home is honest, emotional, and heart-breaking.
The Color of Our Sky by Amita Trasi
This beautiful story of friendship, guilt, and redemption got me good. Mukta is ten years old when her grandmother insists she fulfill her destiny as a temple prostitute. The women in her family have worked in the brothels for generations, but Mukta escapes to a foster family in Bombay where she works as a servant. She and the family’s daughter, Tara, become inseparable, and Tara shows her a childhood she never could have imagined. Mukta is kidnapped from Tara’s room a few years later, and Tara can never forgive herself. She moves from India to LA and back again to search for Mukta, and what she finds will change her life forever. The Color of Our Sky had me crying like a baby.
Ginny Moon by Benjamin Ludwig
I will never stop talking about Ginny Moon. So many times, my heart was ripped apart and then stitched back together again. Ginny is a fourteen-year-old girl with autism who has recently been adopted by her Forever Parents. After child services took her away from her abusive birth mother, Ginny moved from family to family until finally settling with Maura and Brian. Everything seems perfect, but for Ginny, there is one thing missing: her baby doll. She insists that she left it in her birth mother’s apartment, and she’s very concerned about getting it back. No one takes her pleas seriously, and Ginny is forced to matters into her own hands – even if it means getting herself kidnapped. This is still my favourite book that I’ve read all year, and definitely the one that hit me the hardest. I think of Ginny often and fondly, and I will never forget her.
Take it from me: any one of these books will have you wiping your eyes and craving junk food. These amazing authors have created something so beautiful, so emotional, that I connect with it as a total stranger. That fact alone is enough to make me cry! If you’ll excuse me, I’ve got something in my eye…
What are your go-to tearjerkers? Which book has hit you the hardest? Tell us in the comments or on Twitter @SavvyReader.
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