Monday, December 18, 2006

I love to cry

This weekend was a whirlwind, and Monday has come too soon (and Yul won a million bucks on Survivor!). I didn't have a topic ready for my post, and then found this post that I had written a while ago when that children's book meme was going around. My apologies for the slight post.

I just wanted to answer the "Books that made you cry" question. As I've sometimes announced at conferences, I'm a sucker for books that make me cry. And movies that make me cry. And tv shows and commercials that make me cry. And people that make, just kidding. On the other hand, although I love humor and chuckle and smile at what I watch and read, it's harder to make me really laugh out loud than it is to make me cry.

I've wondered why this is, and I think it's because I'm a basically happy person who has had a basically happy life, and therefore I enjoy letting out my sadness when prompted by outside stimuli, such as books.

So, the one book that made me cry the most as a kid?
Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls
(yes, I know, one of those books where dogs die...)

Other books that I strongly remember making me cry, and I mean really cry as a kid:
A Taste of Blackberries by Doris Buchanan Smith
You Shouldn't Have to Say Good-Bye by Patricia Hermes
My Brother Sam is Dead by James Lincoln Collier
Summer of My German Soldier by Bette Greene

Oddly, I never cried while reading Little Women, even though it's one of my favorite all-time books. I don't know why.

And a book that have made me sob recently?: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

I edited a beautiful book that is certainly a tearjerker. The book is called Rubber Houses by Ellen Yeomans (January 2007), and it's a poetry novel about a teen girl and her little brother and... well, you can guess what happens. I read this submission two or so years ago while at work one afternoon, and it made me sob at least three different times--there I was in my office, sniffling and crying and blowing my nose. It's beautiful, moving, and real. Perhaps too real and sad for some adult readers (Kirkus rears its ugly head again), but I think it's lovely and cathartic. We've been getting some great feedback from our hip scouts:

"Rubber Houses is virtually impossible to put down, it’s a very quick read with a deep storyline. Despite their age difference, Kit and Buddy's relationship is one that everyone wishes they had with their siblings. Once Buddy's illness beings to progress, you feel strongly for Kit and how hard it is for her. Definitely recommended for readers age 12-15."
-Samantha, 17

"This book will make anyone with a younger sibling cry. I usually hate free verse, but in Rubber Houses it really captures the emotions of worry, anger, disbelief, loss, drifting, and renewal that Kit experiences after her younger brother dies suddenly of cancer. Though a short read, it's an eye-opener for all of us who think these things won't happen to us. The book also has surprising insight into the relations between teens and their parents, and the deep rifts in "normal" families as Kit struggles to reconnect with her parents after Buddy's death."
~Elizabeth, 16

"To put it simply, Rubber Houses is gut-wrenching. Do you have a younger sibling? After reading this book I can guarentee you will want to hug them and apologize for all the goodbyes that were missing an "I love you." Written in poetry form, it's a quick and easy read, but every page holds the emotion of most novels. Addicting and never slow, this is a must read, but keep the tissues close."
-Heather, 18

I couldn't have said it better myself. Obviously these teens are future book reviewers (maybe for Kirkus?). I wish I could hire them to write my flap copy--I'll probably never be nominated for a Flappy.

Happy holidays, everyone! Do you enjoy books that make you cry? Any recommendations?


Elaine Magliaro said...


My Brother Sam Is Dead and A Taste of Blackberries were two of my daughter's favorite books. I read her A Taste of Blackberries when she was in fourth grade. She loved the book so much she brought it to her sixth grade teacher and asked her if she would read it to the whole class. (The teacher did.)

Anonymous said...

When my sister and I were pre-teens, we discovered the Sweet Dreams series.

Our favorite book was P.S. I Love You. We read it over and over again and cried every time.

To this day, we're like, "Why?! WHY did Paul Shrobe have to die??!!"


Libby Koponen said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Shame on me! I mistyped Paul's name.

It's Paul STROBE.


Good ole Paul....

Libby Koponen said...

Libby Koponen said...

This post was fascinating! And the list of books made me laugh -- maybe just the way as a kid I laughed in movies when other people were starting to sniffle (even when I was one of the people starting to cry). I laugh out loud much more easily than I cry, in fact I usually laugh a few times a day and cry only very rarely.

But, I did blubber OFTEN during LITTLE WOMEN. Other books that have made me cry:
I KNOW WHERE THE RED FERN GROWS (even though I hate that book)
THE TREASURE SEEKERS (the scene where Dora is is talking about the promise she made to their dead mother...there are many scenes in this book that make me laugh, too)
OLD YELLER (movie and book, so sad I couldn't bear to see or read it again)
BLACK BEAUTY (book: when Black Beauty is old imagining herself & Ginger when they were young at whatever that happy home was -- even as a child that scene always got me! It was HORRIBLE when Ginger died but that didn't make me cry)
--why am I doing this? I should be packing!!!!

One more thing: Even though in real life I laugh much more than I cry, it's really hard for a BOOK to make me laugh out loud, really laugh: I will try to think of some that have made me laugh as hard as I did during the infamous "get down to the cupcake level" incident (that is desribed on Alvina's personal blog someplace)or other times in real life when you just can't stop laughing. More books should have this effect, in my opinion!

Maybe laughing is so dependent on timing that it's hard for a book to make you guffaw the way scenes in real life or movies do???

Anonymous said...

Ooh, good meme. Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson was the first book that I remember making me cry. So good. But oh, have you seen the preview for the new movie?!? It made me cry for a whole other reason.

Anonymous said...

Try JULIA'S KITCHEN. I don't know that I've ever read a book that really nailed grief as well.

Anonymous said...

Oh my, I'm beside myself!

First, I see that there is at least one other person out there who read Summer of My German Soldier.

Then I come to the comments and see that there's at least one other person out there who read Sweet Dreams PS I Love You.

I am not alone. I am not alone.

Other children's books that made me cry:

Beat the Turtle Drum

Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince

Rita said...

Oh. MY.

I forgot all about A Taste of Blackberries!! The moment I read the title, suddenly all I could remember was that that book made me cry!!

Then I come here and (like the commenter above) see Tammi has mentioned P.S. I Love You. RANDOM!! That's one of only three books I ever bought (and still own) from my own, short-lived, pre-teen phase.

Can't say that book made me cry, though. I wasn't that far gone.