So sad books are the height of literary escapism, like reading travel books because you're terrified of flying or cook books while you're on a diet. Which books have made me bawl like a seventeen-year-old girl without a prom date? (I'm allowed to make that joke because I was that girl. The rest of you, hands off.) Here they are: the five books that have made me cry in the last twelve months.
Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler
It's right there in the title. This is a book about first loves and first heartbreaks. Handler tells the story of Min, a smart, funny girl who marches to her very own beat, and her relationship with Ed, a basketball star and--truth be told--giant tool. But knowing that things are going to end poorly, being told so from the very first page, doesn't make the experience any less raw and authentic. In the interest of full disclosure, I didn't actually cry in this one but I was very sad and nostalgic and if I had a heart, I probably would have shed a few tears. What's more, I've never known a male writer who so aptly captured the voice of an adolescent girl, except John Green perhaps. Speaking of which...
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
Oh my goodness, I wept, I laughed, and I wept some more. TFiOS is about Hazel and Augustus, two teenagers with cancer. But despite the fact that this is a Cancer Book, this actually is a pretty uplifting read. I mean, obviously some Very Bad Things are going to happen or it wouldn't be a book about cancer and it wouldn't be on this list. But Green doesn't let his characters wallow in self-pity, nor does he get overly Christian and pain-purifies-to-create-something-beautiful. He acknowledges what we all know: cancer sucks. Being seventeen sucks. Being seventeen and having cancer sucks royally but no matter how miserable you life might be, there is always something beautiful to see if you're willing to open your eyes.
Delirium by Lauren Oliver
Oliver imagines a world where love isn't just dangerous, it's been "cured." But when Lena, who has long looked forward to the day she will undergo her own love-obliterating procedure, meets Alex, she suddenly isn't so sure she wants to be cured. The sequel, Pandemonium will be out soon and I frankly can't wait.
The Probability of Miracles by Wendy Wunder
Another Cancer Book. This one actually made me more angry than sad but I cried nonetheless and that's the only requirement to get onto this list. When Cam and her family uproot and move to Promise, Maine, they hope that she'll be able to overcome her fatal disease. And some crazy, miraculous things do start to happen. Best of all, Cam finally gets over being Sick Girl and starts to just be a teenaged girl. She goes to parties, gets a summer job, and--of course--falls in love.
Alice I Have Been by Melanie Benjamin
I love Alice in Wonderland so much that I have "The Walrus and the Carpenter" memorized in its entirety. In this book, Benjamin looks at Lewis Carroll AKA Charles Dodson's relationship with Alice Little, the inspiration for his magnum opus. The real Alice had a sad, difficult life fraught with heartbreak and loss. Beautiful and sad and, best of all, mostly true.