Happy Friday, everyone – and welcome back to A Book Owl’s Corner!
Honestly, guys, you have no idea how relieved I am to be able to say this, because in case you didn’t notice, I spent the past week with a ludicrous blog name I couldn’t wait to get rid of 🙈 But what can I say? Nehal @Books and Words dared me to change it, and if you know me at all, you’ll know I’ll do the stupidest things on a dare. I mean, this is coming from the person whose best friend pretended not to know her on their class trip to Rome, because their other friend dared her to run the entire distance between the Pantheon and the Colosseum while flapping her arms and boking like a chicken… I just can’t resist a good dare 🤣
Still, it was actually kind of interesting seeing everyone’s reactions! Much to Nehal’s disappointment, many of you didn’t even seem to notice – and I mean, I totally feel you there, because I wouldn’t notice that kind of stuff either 😁 – but some of you did, and your comments/messages were priceless! So yeah, sorry to everyone who was really confused! And Nehal, I hope you appreciate my commitment, because my views really plummeted this week – probably because people wondered who this weirdo in their subscription feed was 😂 Though, in all fairness, it could also be due to you guys not being as interested in book cover comparison posts, so maybe I’ll have to repeat this experiment sometime in the future, just to see whether it was a fluke or not 😎 And besides, I got no spam comments at all these past few days, so that’s definitely a bonus!
But let’s get back on topic, because today, I wanted to talk about some of my favorite things in the world: books that have made me cry!
To be honest, I don’t actually cry all that often when reading. There’s really only a handful of books that have ever brought me to tears; if I’m lucky, I read maybe one or two a year.
And if I do cry, it’s not necessarily the moments where you’d think I would. Big battles, blood – bring them on! Characters can be mortally wounded, terrified, even dying, and I won’t bat an eye. I will gladly watch my fictional friends suffer for the sake of a bit of action and drama.
Instead, what really gets to me are those moments when characters finally open up to one another. When they, after what might even be years of misunderstandings, finally share secrets that have been weighing them down. When they bond over shared losses and realize they might not be as at odds with each other as they’ve always thought. When they finally realize someone else understands.
Oddly specific, I know. But basically every book that has ever made me cry had some variation of this! And before I try to analyze why exactly this hits me so hard, let’s get into some examples! Here are
six seven prominent books that have managed to make me cry, and why.
[Don’t worry – I tried to either be purposefully vague or so weirdly specific that I don’t think you’re going to understand much of what I’m talking about if you haven’t read the book in question. So I don’t think there are any major spoilers in here 😉 Still: Proceed at your own risk!]
😭 #1 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling 😭
I know what you’re thinking. “Naemi, you said you don’t cry when characters die, even when you really love them!” And don’t worry – I stand by that. Despite Deathly Hallows gruesomely killing off some of my most beloved characters ever, those scenes have never made me cry. Instead, what gets to me, every single time, is Kreacher’s Tale.
Oh my god, guys 😭😭 Just making me think about poor Kreacher, describing Regulus being dragged beneath the water by those Inferi and living in that house with people who hated him, unable to tell anyone what happened, has me sniffling again. It’s soooo sad! How can people not cry when they read it? AND HOW WAS THIS SCENE, WHICH IS ONE OF THE BEST THINGS IN THE BOOKS, NOT IN THE MOVIES, HUH?!? 😡
Anyway, I’m actually kind of relieved my mom picked me up from my sleepover before I got to that part – my best friend, her twin brother, and I had all spent the night at their house so we could attend the Deathly Hallows release party together – because then I could spend several minutes bawling in peace without disturbing anyone or horrifying my friends into thinking half of the characters had died or something…
😭 #2 Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson 😭
This book is probably also on lots of people’s “sad books” lists. It is, after all, the story of a family trying to come to terms with the fact that one of them is dying. It’s about their last vacation with their dad. About a lot of memories resurfacing.
But again, the death part itself wasn’t what destroyed me. Instead, there’s this scene where the protagonist and her mom get into a stupid argument about something quite trivial and Taylor storms off to be on her own. And somehow, it’s just so heartbreakingly tragic! From that scene alone, you can tell how everyone in the family is trying to avoid the inevitable and not discussing their feelings, so ultimately, they end up lashing out at the people they love most. And that just punches me in the gut. Every single time. 😪
😭 #3 The How and the Why by Cynthia Hand 😭
Now that I’ve already mentioned Second Chance Summer, I have to make use of the opportunity and also bring back one of my favorite books of last year – because The How and the Why actually made me cry for very similar reasons! This book is a YA contemporary novel about a girl trying to find her birth mother, and it actually had me teary eyed on more than occasion 😪
First up, there’s just no way you can’t fall for the relationship between Cass and her (adoptive) mom, who, like Taylor’s dad in Second Chance Summer, is severely ill and in danger of dying. There’s this scene at the hospital, where Cass and her mom get into an argument, and I just couldn’t keep those tears from flowing…
Then, there’s also Cass’s relationship with her best friend Nyla. Nyla, who is faced with the brunt of Cass’s helplessness and anger, and whom Cass says some extremely hurtful and racist things to. Gosh, you guys. Those conversations between the two of them! They were some of the most well-written dialogue I’ve ever come across. And extremely tear-inducing 😅
😭 #4 The Penderwicks in Spring by Jeanne Birdsall 😭
You probably know by now that I’m absolutely obsessed with the Penderwicks series. This is one of the best family stories out there, and it has it all. The funny moments. The serious moments. The cringe-worthy moments. And the utterly heart-breaking ones.
And The Penderwicks in Spring absolutely destroyed me. There’s this scene where Batty overhears a conversation between her older sister Skye (a.k.a. the best Penderwick 😌) and their friend Jeffrey, the repercussions of which had me full-out sobbing for at least the entire following chapter. Jeanne Birdsall, how could you! I was definitely not okay! Talk about an emotional misunderstanding! 😭😭😭
😭 #5 Mandy by Julie Andrews Edwards 😭
A lot of people know Julie Andrews from movies such as The Sound of Music or Mary Poppins, but few people know that in addition to being a world-famous actress, she also has a great talent for writing. Because boy, did this tale about a young orphan girl finding an abandoned cottage in the woods and trying to restore it worm its way into my heart! 😍
And then there’s this scene, were Mandy gets really sick, has to stay with a family over Christmas, falls in love with them, and then has to return to the orphanage. Watching that carefree child cut herself off from everyone, just because she’s scared that no one will love her in return, is absolutely heart-wrenching 😪 Just trust me and read this if you ever need a good cry, okay?
😭 #6 Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins 😭
I’m saving the best for last, because Mockingjay, without a doubt, has one of the most cry-worthy scenes out of any book I’ve ever read. And again, I’m not talking about the character deaths, though those were also incredibly heart-wrenching. I mean that scene at the very end, with Buttercup and Katniss! 🥺
No matter what I do, he won’t go. He circles me, just out of reach, as wave after wave of sobs racks my body, until eventually I fall unconscious. But he must understand. He must know the unthinkable has happened and that to survive will require previously unthinkable acts. Because hours later, when I come to in my bed, he’s there in the moonlight. Crouched beside me, yellow eyes alert, guarding me from the night.Mockingjay, p. 451
Sure, I guess this scene is technically also character-death related, but it’s so much more than that. It is about Katniss finally being able to grieve. It is about a cat who walked miles and miles to return to the person he loved most, only to realize she was gone. And it is about Katniss finally bonding with an animal she once tried to drown. How can you not tear up at that?
Also, in contrast to the Harry Potter people, the people in charge of the Mockingjay actually put this scene in the movie! And I think it’s horribly sad there, as well 😭 Which just goes to show once again that the Hunger Games has the much better adaptation 😇
😭 Bonus: Gregor and the Code of Claw by Suzanne Collins 😭
Okay, I lied. Mockingjay wasn’t the final entry in this post. Because while writing about Mockingjay, I realized that there is actually a series finale by Suzanne Collins that is possibly even more heart-wrenching. A series finale that actually had me bawling, with a huge lump in my throat and red eyes, over a character death. So yeah, I guess I also lied about those not affecting me 😅😂
But maybe I didn’t, not really… Because it’s not so much the character death that hits me so hard, but another character’s reaction to it. If you’ve read this book, I’m sure you know what I mean. Just think of someone gripping a claw really, really tightly 😭😭😭😭😭 **Starts tearing up in mere memory of this**
Seriously, if you haven’t read The Underland Chronicles yet, go do it! They’re every bit as good as The Hunger Games. 🥰
So yeah – I hope that gives you some idea of what makes me cry in a book! Like I said, there aren’t many books that manage to get me to this point. But when you combine the right amount of sadness with the right amount of character insight and emotion, you can even open up this hard-hearted reader’s tear-ducts.
And I think maybe that’s because I’m such a character-driven reader in general? You can give me a book with next to no plot at all – if it has loads of character development, I will be absolutely riveted. But give me an action-packed novel that doesn’t tell me what characters are currently thinking and struggling with, and I will hate it. **cough Golden Son cough**
Which means that the ultimate way to get me to feel sadness is to have me relate to the characters themselves going through that emotion, and to have me feel for them on a deep level. And if a book manages to do that, it’s pretty much guaranteed a spot on my favorites list.
But enough about me! I want to know about you! Do you often cry while reading, or are you an unperturbed villain like me? What is it about a book that will make you cry? Do you have any recommendations for books that you think will make me cry? If so, please spill the beans!