Sometimes all you need is a good read and a good cry. We’ve gone through our list of heartbreakers (it’s been an emotional process) and provided you with nine books that will leave your pages tear-drenched.
1. The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne
We all read the book, we all saw the movie, and we were all devastated. In the novel, the son of a Nazi officer befriends a young Jewish boy in the concentration camp run by his father. The boys become fast friends, despite the circumstance, showing the power of unbiased love. The story ends up leaving us all in tears.
2. A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara
A Little Life tells the story of four young men who move to New York together after college, and their decision to remain friends for life. One of the friends, a highly successful lawyer named Jude, struggles to come to term with his past, a past which affects his every waking moment. It is a story of love, loss, hope and tragedy, and it’s one of those books that leaves you staring at the ceiling for hours with tears in your eyes.
3. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
The Kite Runner is one hard hit after another. Growing up in Kabul, Amir betrays his childhood friend Hassan and spends the rest of the novel attempting to atone for his wrongdoings. While the novel ends on a hopeful note, we find ourselves equally conflicted about forgiving Amir and wishing that his life was not so tragedy ridden.
4. My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult
After being diagnosed with leukemia, Kate’s parents have another daughter named Anna, born to save Kate’s life and donate organs as the leukemia takes over. When she turns 13 and is about to be forced to donate her kidney to her sister, Anna files for medical emancipation to prevent the surgery from happening. But that’s not all to the story. There’s tears, and lots of them.
5. The Night by Elie Wiesel
Another heartbreaker set in Eastern Europe during Nazi Germany, this book explores the life of Eliezer, an Orthodox Jew, in 1941. After escaping Poland, Eliezer returns to Hungary where he recounts the horrors he has seen. It’s a story about our world’s destructive history and facing our past. This one pulls at your heartstrings.
6. Room by Emma Donoghue
Jack and “Ma” have been locked in the same room for seven years by “Old Nick.” If that introduction doesn’t give an ominous tone to the book, I’m not sure what will. Ma creates a sanctuary for Jack in the room, trying to make the best out of a terrifying situation. Who knew a book could be so heartbreaking and hopeful at the same time?
7. The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion
As she sits by her husband’s side after he suffers a major heart attack, her daughter is comatose in the ICU, missing her father’s final moments. And if that wasn’t sad enough, here’s the kicker: it’s true. This memoir tells the story of Didion’s loss and how we deal with death. Your heart may hurt a little after reading this one.
8. When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
After training for over ten years to become a neurosurgeon, Paul Kalanithi finds out he has stage IV lung cancer. Yep, this one’s a true story, too. Through surgery, as he works to help those around him confront their mortality, he must learn to face his own. This heart-wrenching memoir is one that will have you pondering life, death and everything in between.
9. Old Yeller by Fred Gipson
The list of “Saddest Books Ever” wouldn’t be complete without Old Yeller. A young boy is forced to take over operations at his family’s farm when a dingy yellow dog shows up. Travis initially hates the dog, but as time goes on, he grows fond of Old Yeller. A-la-Marley and Me, tragedy strikes. Unlike Marley, Old Yeller doesn’t die of old age. You might need a tissue or two for this one.
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