I can probably count on two hands the books that have made me cry over the years. “Where the Red Fern Grows” back in sixth grade, for obvious reasons. “Watership Down” that same year for… well, who knows why those rabbits made me cry, but they did! “A Tale of Two Cities” during my freshman year of high school, all because of the totally unexpected moment when Sydney Carton redeems himself and saves the life of the love of the love of his life, who was also his long-lost brother. (I explained that whole twisted plot point just the way I would have explained it at the mature age of fifteen. No need to thank me.) During college, “The Color Purple,” because her babies came back from Africa to find her, followed by “The Poisonwood Bible,” because one of her babies never made it back from Africa. So sad. So very, very sad!
Post-college, I had to rely on what was sent to me from the US from wonderfully generous family members. My sister sent me her favorite Nicholas Sparks novels, and though I can’t even remember the name of the particular novel, I remember weeping uncontrollably when the heroine’s formerly mute little boy tells her, “I luff you, Money.” Break. My. Heart. And “Drowning Ruth” and “Stolen Lives,” both Oprah’s Book Club picks. Oprah knows how to pick some sad books, y’all!
When I was in my last month of pregnancy with Ana, I was stupid enough to pick “The Lovely Bones,” despite my mother’s warnings and spent a good portion of those last few weeks crying and praying that Ana would never leave the womb and enter this dark, sad, scary world. After she was born, “Ferdinand the Bull” made me cry. Shoot, microwave operation manuals made me cry. Yay for post partum depression!
A year later, I cried over “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.” This was probably because I read the book in that brief two weeks that I nursed Emma 24/7, and if you know me, you know that nursing made me clinically insane all on its own. So I don’t blame Harry for that one. (Of course, it could have been because I remembered how Wes sat in the corner throughout my labor, reading this book and gasping at the twists in the plot, until I finally told him five minutes before Emma was born that I was about to die from the pain and that I was pretty sure that her head was out and could he just put the book down and get the doctor already before I made him deliver her himself!?! Ahh, memories.)
This year, it’s been “Three Cups of Tea,” “Little Earthquakes,” and “Chocolate Beach,” which is, among other things, not the best Christian fiction out there. But there was just something about the way the narrator talked about her husband that was so real and reminded me of meeting/falling in love with Wes, making me happy-weepy over our sweet memories. (Not the memory mentioned above, obviously.)
I wonder at how expertly these writers can put together words, sentences, and stories that just completely grab at my heart. How can simple words, when used to communicate just another story, somehow touch readers so deeply and profoundly, so much so that this old lady still remembers them long after they’ve been shelved? I just don’t know.
How about you? Read anything especially tear-worthy lately?