I have had some readers tell me that they cried at certain parts of my novel, Vintage. Secretly, I adore hearing this. Why? Because it means that the reader cared enough about the characters to be moved emotionally by what happened to them.
Personally, I love it when a book makes me cry. A good cry is cathartic, and a reminder of what makes us human. I’ve been boo-hooing my way through stories since childhood. Here is a book that made me cry as a kid, and one that made me cry recently as an adult.
Bridge to Terabithia. I kind of can’t believe this was assigned reading at my Catholic elementary school. Apparently it’s number 8 on the American Library Association list of the 100 books most frequently banned in the 1990’s, because of its “offensive language.” I don’t remember any offensive language, but I do remember the tears streaming down my face when Jesse learned that his BFF, Leslie, had drowned. Leslie had gone alone one day to Terabithia, the imaginary forest kingdom the two kids had created together. She drowned in the creek after the rope swing they used to cross over toTerabithia snapped. This book made me weep as a ten-year-old. I can’t even imagine the mess I’d turn into if I were to re-read it now.
The Ballad of West Tenth Street. Thislovely and quirky novel revolves around two Greenwich Village brownstones and their eccentric inhabitants. In one of the houses lives Sadie Hollander, the tipsy widow of a heroin-addicted rock star, and her adolescent children. In the brownstone next door resides a genteel Southerner referred to as “the Colonel.” He, like the fatherless Hollander children, is lonely and spends a lot of time lost in his own thoughts. He forms an unlikely friendship with the children, as well as with a homeless man, Cap’n Meat, who squats in his backyard. There’s a scene in the last third of the book where a cat dies–told from the point of view of the cat. That’s where I really started to lose it (and I’ve never even had a cat). I continued crying all the way to the end. Beautiful in my favorite way–dark and funny and sad.