Is there anything more cathartic or satisfying than a book that makes you cry? Whether you like fiction or nonfiction, these 10 books are emotional journeys that will make you feel all the feelings while reading, and probably require a box of tissues.
Lauren and her late husband Rory were a golden couple. When Rory gave up a promising NHL career not long after their marriage to enlist and then died in combat, Lauren was devastated and unprepared to deal with the intense public scrutiny of being a young, famous widow. She withdrew to her family's beach house, but now this summer, her privacy is being invaded once more by her family...and a young filmmaker who has improbably tracked her down to beg for an interview for a documentary he is creating about Rory. Lauren agrees, somewhat hesitantly, to talk about her husband for just one hour. But that hour reveals information about Rory that shakes Lauren to her core, forcing her to reconsider everything she thought she knew about family, her marriage, and Rory–but it might also help Lauren move forward.
In this unbelievable memoir, Maude recounts her early years living with controlling parents who were determined to raise her to be a survivor, no matter what trials she faced. As a result, they withheld affection and instead tried to toughen her up by making her endure difficult and cruel physical tasks. She spent her early years with no companions other than the animals on her family's remote farm and the characters in the books she sneakily read when her parents weren't looking. These connections fostered love and affection in her, until the fateful day when a stranger arrived at her family's home and Maude was finally able to make her escape.
Kelley and Thomas French desperately wanted a baby, and when they conceived Juniper, they were overjoyed. But when she was born four months premature, she was barely alive. Her skin was translucent, she was the length of a Barbie doll, and her chances of survival were slight. Faced with the impossible choice to let her go or fight for Juniper's life, the Frenches decided to fight. This is their remarkable story of caring for their daughter during the uncertain, improbable months that she struggled to survive, of the love they had for her, and the love they have for each other.
Pearl and Stasha are twins, closer than any two beings could ever be. When they are imprisoned in Auschwitz with their mother and grandfather, they rely on each other for physical, mental, and emotional survival. But all of that is shattered when the twins are taken in as a part of Mengele's Zoo, a community of twins who undergo horrific experiments. When Pearl disappears, Stasha is devastated but hopeful she can still find her twin, all the way through her liberation and subsequent quest throughout war-torn Poland. Together with another abandoned twin, Stasha hopes to find justice in the capture of Mengele, but also faces the terrifying prospect of moving through life without Pearl.
To five-year-old Jack, Room is the entire world. He shares it with Ma, and Old Nick visits. Jack loves Room, but Ma doesn't, and one night she asks Jack to do something very scary. Jack agrees and learns that there is so much more to life and the world than what can be contained in Room. This is a moving, incredible book about a mother's fierce love for her son, the lengths she is willing to go to protect him, and the effects of trauma on the parent-child relationship that is sure to make you cry multiple times.
Margaret and John are about to be married when John is hospitalized for depression. In the 1960s, his mental illness carries great stigma and Margaret is left with a difficult choice: break off their engagement, or forge ahead. She chooses to marry John, and their marriage produces three children, although it's far from easy. As their children grow into adults, the effects of John's illness have a profound effect on their lives and how they make sense of the world. This novel is told from the points of view of all members of the family, making for a deeply emotional reading experience about a family's love and the legacy of mental illness.
When novelist Richard Beard was a child, he and his brother Nicky were playing on a beach during a family holiday when all of a sudden, Nicky was swept out to sea and was gone. Improbably, Richard and his siblings were not allowed to attend the funeral, and the family even stayed for the entire duration of their holiday. Their parents never spoke of Nicky again, and their children were expected to simply carry on. Years later, haunted by the traumatic event and deeply affected by his family's refusal to acknowledge the tragedy, Richard begins his own investigation into that fateful day, and to tell the story of Nicky's all-too-short life.
What’s the last book that made you cry?
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Tirzah Price is a writer and contributing editor at Book Riot. Follow her on Twitter @TirzahPrice.