I have a love/hate relationship with sad books. I can get so into a sad book that I put it down feeling so sad or angry. I’m not sad or angry because I disliked the book, but because it was so well-written that it made me feel TOO MANY THINGS. For me, a sad book doesn’t necessarily have to end in tragedy. For me, a sad book is one that makes me want to put the characters in comfy blankets and give them hot chocolate. They go through so much pain and hardship, and I end up being so attached to them because I just want to see them safe. They reduce me to a puddle of tears.
So what do I like about sad books?
#1: Showing how people deal with grief.
I really like it when an author does a good job of showing how different kinds of people deal with grief. Some people can seem to handle it really well, only to be bottling everything inside. Others might lash out immediately with anger or coldness, pushing away people and refusing to talk about it. Dealing with the pain of losing a loved one isn’t something that can be fixed quickly, and I appreciate stories that show the progression of a grieving character.
#2: When characters get hurt, but use it to learn and adapt.
Life may kick around the characters, but when they pick themselves back up and keep going, I really like that. I’m okay with characters that mope or feel bad for a while after the bad thing happens because you can’t expect anyone to be a-okay right after that. But when books show how they, even if slowly, manage to deal with their pain and ultimately become a better character for it. Good character develop reigns, I say!
However, I get very frustrated with characters that ONLY mope and feel bad for themselves and wallow in their pity party until some amazing event happens. Like some hot guy appears on the scene and they suddenly undergo some crazy personality change, turning them into the Sunshine Faerie. That’s completely different. It’s like they’ve been zapped with the happy ray instead of the change coming from inside themselves.
#3: When the characters are able to overcome it all, and get their happy ending.
After the book is just event after event of sadness or pain, and after the characters undergo some really good development, reading that they managed to get to their happy ending feels AMAZING. After crying with them, seeing them happy is a wonderful thing. Even if they aren’t 100% okay or they still have some pain to deal with, at least they’re on the road to a happier place.
#4: When they don’t get their happy ending.
Okay, I really like happy endings, don’t get me wrong. But when a character doesn’t get their happy ending, it can feel more realistic. Some people will never be able to completely get over a loss, and I understand that. We all carry baggage and pain with us, and a well-written story that touches on this is something I enjoy.
There are also some stories that have a very sad ending, and some that will just make me scream and go “NOOOO! WHY WHY WHY?!” I’ll feel very bad for a while, lay in bed, call my boyfriend and yell about the book. Then I’ll sit up and realise that it was still a good way for it to end. I wanted a happy ending for the characters, and I didn’t get it. You can’t get everything you want in life, right?
Endings like this remind me that the world can be a very sucky place, and maybe a little more kindness and compassion is needed. 🙂
What about you, dear reader?
Do you like books that hurt so good? What books have made you feel TOO MANY THINGS?
Let me know in the comments!