This week's theme is "Books that broke your heart a little." Awesome. I love heartbreaking, gut wrenching books. Here's my list... and oh, it was hard to narrow this down to just ten!
This week I've decided to split my Top Ten into Adult and Young Adult lists.
The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
I listened to this book on Thanksgiving Day, and I was in tears by the end. The struggles of the Joad family, and of all the other sharecroppers needing work, food, shelter, everything, just broke my heart. I didn't expect to, but I loved this story and I fell a little in love with John Steinbeck because of it.
Roots: The Saga of an American Family by Alex Haley
If you're not familiar with the story, get thee to thy bookstore or library to get a copy! This is the story of Kunta Kinte, stolen from his home and family in Africa and sold into slavery. This is the story of his life, his family, his heritage and legacy, and it is a powerful and emotional and heartbreaking one.
Tim by Colleen McCullough
This is a story of an unlikely relationship between an innocent 25 year old mentally retarded man and a 43 year old straight-laced and emotionally distant spinster. They each have something to learn, and something to teach. This is a beautiful story that surprised me with how deeply I loved it. I highly recommend it.
Losing Julia by Jonathan Hull
This is Patrick Delaney's life story, centered around two people that he loved and lost. We see through his eyes, his insights and memories at different stages of his life. Each was represented with truth and grace and clarity and felt so intimate that toward the end, I felt as if I was losing a little bit of myself in Patrick's loss.
I Know This Much Is True by Wally Lamb
One of my all time favorite books. This is the story of two very, very different twin brothers struggling with identity and mental illness, as one of the twins is a paranoid schizophrenic. It's about the ties that bind twins together, even when everything about them is different. I highly recommend this one. It's not an easy book, but it's worth it.
Young Adult Heartbreakers:
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling
This was my favorite Harry Potter book for a long, long time, mainly because of the gut-punch that it delivers at the end. The rawness, the realness, the awful loss and emptiness of those last few chapters was palpable, as my tear-stained book will attest.
But you already knew that, being Harry Potter fans... right?!
A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
This was a brilliant and heart-breaking story about love, and loss, and fear of loss. These are things that affect everyone, and though this story has a touch of the fantastic going for it, I think it's a realistic portrayal of how people learn to cope with the often unfair hand that life deals.
Shine by Lauren Myracle
This book touched on a lot of things. Poverty, addiction, class division, alcoholism, abuse, homosexuality and homophobia, fear and hatred, small-town politics, friendship and loyalty, etc. If it hadn't been written with such grace and honesty, and a light touch and sense of innocence, it could have gone very wrong, but it was perfect. This book is gorgeous and amazing from cover to cover.
If I Stay by Gayle Forman
I really loved this book. I loved the family dynamic, the love they shared, the individuality and trust. This one definitely makes me think of the choices that we make in life, and how, despite being so powerless, we still have the choice of whether to give up or struggle on.
Hurt Go Happy by Ginny Rorby
Hurt Go Happy was one of those books that affected me so deeply that to this day just thinking about the book brings tears to my eyes. It was an amazing story of finding strength to overcome adversity, as well as bringing awareness to animal cruelty. I can't recommend this book highly enough, but make sure you have tissues handy. You'll need them.