It's also Top Ten Tuesday once again, and I'm totally digging today's theme: Books That Break Our Hearts a Little! I consider it a very high compliment if a book can make me cry or make my heart feel like it's breaking. In those cases, the author has most definitely written characters and plot that I can wholly invest in, and what's not to applaud about that?
Without further ado, the top ten books that broke my heart a little. And you might see a couple of themes running through these choices.
ROOM broke my heart a lot. It shattered it into pieces and stepped on them over and over and over again. This story is not without hope but I felt so completely, utterly invested and compelled in spots that I thought I'd have to stop reading. Even though it ends well, it broke my heart along the way.
The Book Thief was shocking as it made me bawl beginning around page 250 and there are something like 500+ pages in the book. I was in love with the characters, the plot, and the historical moment for a big trifecta of heart breakage.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is a very obvious choice, but it didn't break my heart any less. Not only because the fate of some of my friends I'd loved along the way just sucked but because it's OVER. J.K. Rowling, I love you!
In The Hours, the issues that stuck out to me most were the dueling feelings of nurturing and guilt that mothers, friends, and partners work through. But it's also about the crushing weight of obligation and events that spin out of one's control. It was a book I read when I was quite young (early 20s) that introduced me to some of the issues I would face (and that most people face on some level) as they age.
The Birth of Love is a book I could relate to as a new mom. Namely the guilt that goes along with it. While this one didn't necessarily make me cry, it was the little moments and everyday struggles a family faces...the little hurts...that broke my heart.
Beasts by Joyce Carol Oates is not really an obvious choice on a surface level. The main character goes through a great deal of trauma at the hands of an older professor and his wife. Her heart is broken on a number of occasions by their actions, and I was totally invested in the character. These feelings were also heightened by Joyce Carol Oates's ability to write an oppressive atmosphere into this little novella.
The Passage was so long and involving, I couldn't help but be engaged with the characters and their individual plights. If I hadn't been involved, I never would've finished this chunkster, but as it was, I raced through it when I was home on maternity leave. Between the action and the struggles and the damned monsters trying to eat everyone, I got my heart broken a couple of times. But nothing broke my heart liked the CLIFFHANGER ENDING! I can't wait for The Twelve to come out!
Y'all know I had to throw in a short story collection somewhere, so I'm giving the "break my heart" award to Simon Van Booy's The Secret Lives of People in Love. There were a mixture of story lengths in this book, but it was some of the shorter tales (just a couple of pages) that compelled me most for their observations and sometimes for the shock of the endings.
The Golems of Gotham by Thane Rosenbaum is one of those largely overlooked novels that I champion at every available opportunity, so I'm singing its praises here, too! Not only are the present-day characters heartbreaking: a man and his daughter, reeling after the death of his parents (her grandparents). In this book we also get to meet a few ghosts of the Holocaust: Primo Levi, Jerzy Kosinski, Jean Amery, and Paul Celan--all writers who committed suicide after surviving concentration camps.The writing is gorgeous, the premise is unique, and the grappling with loss was heartbreaking, though this is another hopeful ending.
Just, yeah. The Road. Earth is destroyed, civilization is limping along, and a dad and his son are just trying to survive. OK, Cormac McCarthy, YOU GOT ME!
What books broke your heart a little? Bookworms wanna know. :)