Sometimes you need a good cry. Not just a Marley and Me the-dog-dies-at-the-end cry, but a good cathartic release. There are times when I feel gloomy or sad and I need to release some emotional anguish. I often turn to books when I feel this way. I like to connect with stories that help give my own life and hardships perspective but still allow me to feel deeply invested in the tale. We’ve rounded up 14 books that will emotionally wreck you. You will be ugly crying at the end of these, so be sure to have a box of tissues nearby.
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Books to Emotionally Wreck you
This book about Syrian life and a modern-day refugee seeking safety. The story is spliced in with another taking place centuries before – a mythical adventurer looking to learn the map-making trade. War-torn Syria is hard to read about, but the mapmaker’s tale helps lessen some of the heavier moments. You will be rooting for both heroines in this moving tale.
Room, which has recently been made into a movie, tells the harrowing tale of a 5-year-old boy born to a captive woman. He was conceived, born, and raised in his underground room and it his all he knows of the world. His mother is desperate to get them to safety and away from her captor of 7 years. Told entirely from Jack’s perspective this story showcases the bond of mother and son.
This story of Afganistan is one of the most emotional books I’ve ever read. I sobbed for a full 30 minutes after the last chapter. The story of friendship between a wealthy boy and his servant is one filled with betrayal, tragedy, and heartbreak. Told against the background of Afganistan’s destruction and the war, this sweeping tale is a must read.
A Fine Balance is an epic and heartbreaking saga of life in India. It’s a story of love and friendship in an unnamed city in 1975. Lovers come together and are ripped apart in this memorable book.
This memoir details the Holocaust and life inside Auschwitz during WW2. Elie Weisel was one of the most well-known survivors of the Holocaust and his struggle to stay alive is deeply powerful. This book is quite graphic at points, but it is a story that everyone must read.
This nonfiction book focuses on Gander, Newfoundland when 38 planes had to land there during 9/11. When 6,800 descended on their small town for a week, the townspeople stepped up with compassion. The story follows townspeople and passengers alike. I cried throughout the entire thing. The story was actually both poignant and uplifting and I think it’s a great choice for a first 9/11 book.
The Heart’s Invisible Furies is one of the best books I have ever read and will stay with me and haunt me for years to come. This is the first book that I have read by John Boyne and all I can say is WOW!!! This man can weave a story like few people can do. This book is a beautiful and poignant saga that begins in 1945 in Ireland and spans 70 years. While I was initially hesitant to read a book of this magnitude (both literally and metaphorically), I am so glad that I did.
I was literally sick to my stomach while reading the story of Precious and her life in Harlem in the ’80s. The plot centers around a girl who was raped by her father and has two of his babies by 16. She is trying to give her children a better life. I listened to this and was crying so hard while driving that I had to pull over.
Probably the most graphic novel on our list, this memoir details a young boy’s severe child abuse case. It is incredibly hard to stomach the things the author experienced. That anyone could do that to a child is heartbreaking and disgusting. This book is deeply disturbing and like Push is not for the faint-at-heart.
The Prince of Tides is the story of Tom and his troubled twin sister Savannah. As we follow Tom’s journey to understand and help his sister, he must confront his past and his family. Something about Tom delving into the deepest family secrets had me sobbing. This is one sprawling novel worth reading.
The story features three different narratives by three different refugees. Each refugee is about 12 years old and fleeing during a different time period– 1930s Europe, 1990s Cuba, and 2015 Syria. The way history continues to repeat itself is everpresent in these books. This one is appropriate to give to a middle-grade or YA reader.
2 people are stranded on an island together after being the only survivors of a small plane crash. They must figure out how to work together to survive. The writing is spectacular. I simply couldn’t put this book down and the ending – whew – it’s a doozie. This has quickly become a favorite book of mine and one I recommend to EVERYONE.
Me Before You has quickly become a classic story – and a movie to boot. When a young man becomes paralyzed his parents hire a young woman to be his companion. As love blooms, and she tries to convince him that life is still worth living, the reader questions what they would sacrifice to make a loved one happy.
Could you love someone if you knew your time was limited? What if you never really had a choice? Clare has known Henry since she was six. Henry doesn’t meet Clare until she is 23. Henry has a disorder that causes him to jump through time. This book is heartbreaking and beautiful and calls fate into question in the most unique way.
This new release is a Reese Witherspoon Book Club pick and for good reason. This book broke my heart piece by piece and then slowly put it back together. It is a beautiful story and the synopsis does not adequately describe the beauty that is within the pages. The story is about Kya, “the Marsh Girl,” and her life. I don’t want to give anything away but, if you loved the Great Alone by Kristin Hannah, you will love this book. They have the same emotional impact on your soul.