Looking for Hope in Stories That Make Us Cry

Grab your nearest tissue box and let’s dive into how hopefulness impacts stories that make us cry.

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Child covers face while leaning on books shelves.

As a reader who leans toward angst in stories, I’ve always wondered what it is about these tearjerkers that keep me reaching for these novels over and over again. While it may be easy to categorize these books as only sad stories, I don’t think this is always the case. There are times that I can anticipate shedding some tears based on the book description or because I know I’ll be saying goodbye to characters I’ve journeyed with. Other times, reading these stories can be cathartic — whether it be the relatability or the feeling of hope I carry for these characters.

The Importance of Book Descriptions

While beautiful book covers grab my attention, book descriptions are the reason I stay. The Consequences of Falling by Liliana Rose Hastings is a recent purchase of mine, and I knew immediately would be a more emotional read. Navigating trauma and grief is no easy feat, and yet, when Hastings describes characters Atlas Hale and Nova Hawkins facing these circumstances in the description, there are also hints of hopefulness that ultimately made me want to root for these characters, too.

Book cover of The Consequences are Falling with a bench in the center of two lamp posts and leaves falling.

Saying Goodbye to Dearly Loved Characters

Finishing The Hunger Games series before I entered middle school felt like a flurry of emotions. Since this was around the time that the first movie came out, I remember 12-year-old me trying to be the fastest reader in class who finished the series, and yet, when I got to Mockingjay, I just remember slowing down and taking it all in. There was grief about losing characters that I was so emotionally invested in. There was also the slow realization that I would no longer get to hear from these characters once I reached the last page.

Book cover of Mockingjay with blue background and Mockingjay flying with wings spread in the center.

Even now as I look at my decade-old copy of Mockingjay, with ticket stubs of the movie left inside as a way to remember that time, Katniss’ last lines still haunt me. I cried because of everything that she and Peeta went through. I cried for the hope of their future. I cried because it was a goodbye to the story that was a huge part of my childhood.

Seeing Myself in the Story

There was something so special in picking up a book by a Filipino-American author who also wrote a book centered around a Filipino-American character. Patron Saints of Nothing by Randy Ribay was so personal to me and yet so different at the same time. As the main character, Jay Reguero visited the Philippines, I was reminded of what it was like to visit my family for the first time after so many years. I kept the same hope and determination that Jay had throughout the book in finding his cousin and was absolutely devastated when the truth was revealed.

Book cover of Patron Saints of Nothing with main character Jay holding onto flames. On the right side is the National Book Award Finalist medal.

Stories impact us in so many ways, and shedding tears over characters we love and have journeyed with is a huge part of that, too.

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