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Here are the top five novels that ripped my heart out and left me soaking in a puddle of tears.
Spoiler alert: If you haven’t read the classic novels, “Little Women” and “Anne of Green Gables,” shame on you, and don’t read items 1 and 2, because they contain spoilers. I won’t ruin items 3-5.
1. “Little Women,” by Louisa May Alcott. Why does Beth March have to die? It seems like it’s only a plot point that moves her sister Jo’s story forward. And it rips out the hearts of readers. Anyone know the Alcott back-story? I’d love to hear it from you.
2. “Anne of Green Gables,” by L.M. Montgomery. When Matthew dies of a heart attack after learning his bank has failed, I lost my mind with grief. Anne Shirley can’t absorb the news. “Mrs. Lynde, you don’t think—you can’t think Matthew is—is—” and she can’t finish. It’s a wonder the page is still legible, after the tears flooded my face and, on many a rereading, drenched the page.
3. “The Book Thief,” by Markus Zusak. This book was popular in reading clubs for two years after it debuted in 2007. It’s about a German family during World War II, the Memingers, who get deep into trouble while trying to hide a Jewish friend. The chapters alternate between Liesel Meminger’s perspective and the point of view of the Grim Reaper, who tells us which victims he’s coming for next. It’s terrifying, tragic and left me all weepy and weak-kneed, as good drama tends to do.
4. “My Mother’s Chamomile,” by Susie Finkbeiner. This book hasn’t won awards or become a bestseller, but it left a crater in my heart. It’s about a third-generation mortician and her family as they prepare the bodies of folks in their small town for burial. They comfort their clients, but they are outcasts because of their odd profession. When they experience the slow and painful death of one of their own, the village realizes the family is precious to them, and they rally to help bring comfort during the loved one’s last days. I can’t say enough about how real the characters felt to me. I consider them members of my own family. And it broke my heart to see their suffering.
5. “The Sandpiper,” by Susan Brace Lovell. This also isn’t a bestseller, but it’s really good. It’s about a family’s struggle through addiction, infertility, death and loneliness. The protagonists are sisters Jamie and Kate, who must learn to help each other after years of resentment and alienation. The third main character is their family cottage, The Sandpiper, nestled among the sand dunes of Lake Michigan. During the hours it took me to read this book, my heart came unglued.
Your turn. What novels have ripped your heart out and left you weepy?
Rachel E. Watson blogs on life, faith, mental health, music and literature at RachelEWatson.com. She also writes poetry, short fiction and essays, and has been a journalist almost 10 years. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter.
Thanks a lot Rachel, we loved having you take over the Blondewritemore blog! Drop by the offices again soon 🙂