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Photo: Courtesy of Dutton Penguin.
I still remember the first time a book made me cry. It was Anne of Green Gables. I read it in third grade during Rosh Hashanah. Around hour three of reading about a talkative little girl named Anne Shirley, who longs for a home and finally finds a lovely one with the Cuthbert siblings, I had been lulled into a false sense of security. I thought this was going to be a story about puffed sleeves, a house with gables, and an unconventional family finding joy with the help of an orphan with an overactive imagination.
Then, author L.M. Montgomery ripped the rug right out from under me. Matthew Cuthbert, Anne’s “kindred spirit,” dies of a heart attack after learning that all of the family’s money has been lost because the bank holding their life savings went under. His heart bursts from stress. Anne’s heart figuratively bursts from the pain of losing her beloved father figure. My own tiny heart burst just from reading about it. It also didn’t help that my father worked at a bank, and this was the first time I realized that banks could actually go bankrupt. It was a really tough moment in my young life, courtesy of Anne of Green Gables.
I cried and cried, and had to go to temple the next day with my face still puffy and swollen from tears. The same thing actually happened again on Rosh Hashanah in 2015 when I read Hanya Yanagihara’s A Little Life. You’d think I’d have learned my lesson all those years ago, but nope.
Sometimes you need a good cry, though. It’s nice to be reminded of how strongly and deeply within you something can resonate, even if it’s a fictional story. If you ever find yourself in need of a solid ugly-cry, the Refinery29 team recommends any and all of the following books. Grab some tissues, 'cause the waterworks are coming.
Spoiler alert: We will be discussing some very sad endings to books you may not have read yet. Proceed at your own risk!
Photo: Courtesy of Roberts Brothers.