Monday, November 26, 2012

Guest Post: Young Adult Books that Pull on Emotional Strings

by Leanne from The Reclusive Reader

Every reader has wept during emotional scenes in books, and I mean everyone, whether you’re willing to admit it or not. Was it during THAT SCENE in Bridge to Terabithia, or Where the Red Fern Grows? Did you collapse in a heap and started sobbing hysterically during the epic finale of Harry Potter? Or did Mockingjay hit you right in the heart, in that sensitive spot you only reserve for books that resonate with you on a deeply personal level?

I personally don’t anticipate reading “tear-jerkers”, whence books make me feel all soft and mushy and weepy and sniff-ly inside. I’m sorry; I am quite aware that I may sound like a coldhearted cod, but no, get away from me, FEELS! Shoo!

In spite of all my complaining and whining though, it’s without a doubt that a couple very precious novels have affected me on an incredibly personal level and lingered for a while. Momentarily, I’ll present to you a couple of absolute treasures I highly recommend for when you’re in that really dreadful mood to stain your blanket with tears.

Before I Fall
By Lauren Oliver

Premise: What if you only had one day to live? What would you do? Who would you kiss? And how far would you go to save your own life?

Samantha Kingston has it all: looks, popularity, and the perfect boyfriend. Friday, February 12, should be just another day in her charmed life. Instead, it turns out to be her last.

The catch: Samantha still wakes up the next morning. Living the last day of her life seven times during one miraculous week, she will untangle the mystery surrounding her death--and discover the true value of everything she is in danger of losing.

On the surface, Before I Fall may seem like a trite, uninspired novel riddled with clichés, a mix of “Groundhog Day” and “Mean Girls”. Yes, this book is about unlikeable, excessively bitchy Queen Bees who inflict emotional pain on their victims, including the main protagonist, Sam Kingston.

BUT, somehow this book managed to blow my initial misgivings out of the water and displayed characters in their most organic, bare forms. The writing was wholly spectacular, evocative, thought- provoking, and sentimental without being absurdly sappy. And the ending, was just… Even now, I can barely write about it without getting all, WHY IS THE WORLD SO CRUEL WHY DID IT HAVE TO END THAT WAY whywhywhy….

Yes, I’m still sensitive about it. *whispers* don’t tell!

And I can also remember quite vividly that Lauren Oliver wrote absolutely gorgeous passages.

“Maybe you can afford to wait. Maybe for you there's a tomorrow. Maybe for you there's one thousand tomorrows, or three thousand, or ten, so much time you can bathe in it, roll around it, let it slide like coins through your fingers. So much time you can waste it. But for some of us there's only today. And the truth is, you never really know.”

“Here's another thing to remember: hope keeps you alive. Even when you're dead, it's the only thing that keeps you alive.”

“I guess that's what saying good-bye is always like--like jumping off an edge. The worst part is making the choice to do it. Once you're in the air, there's nothing you can do but let go.”

So now, if you haven’t read this book and weren’t left in a state of unstable emotions when you finished, this book is calling your name. I can hear it…

Furthermore, if you have no idea as to who I am and are quite disturbed by my strange ramblings, then you most likely don’t know that I’ve been raving about this emotional tear- jerker ever since I read it two months ago. The book I speak of is Story of a Girl, an unbelievably poignant, raw, and quietly powerful novel that spoke to me on so many different levels.

Story of a Girl
By Sara Zarr

Premise: When she is caught in the backseat of a car with her older brother's best friend--Deanna Lambert's teenage life is changed forever. Struggling to overcome the lasting repercussions and the stifling role of "school slut," she longs to escape a life defined by her past. With subtle grace, complicated wisdom and striking emotion, Story of a Girl reminds us of our human capacity for resilience, epiphany and redemption.

Deanna is that girl, you know, that girl? The slut who slept with her older brother's best friend when she was thirteen; the girl who later had to deal with the repercussions of her past mistake. Deanna is a girl who can easily be dismissed as a skank, a clingy freak with no life, as most presume in her backwards, blue collar town. What if this piece of gossip that’s circled around her school for years and has been so belittled so that people laugh off such a horrible experience as if it were a joke; what if there is more to it than people bother to care?

I loved this book, body and soul. It revealed my lesser qualities of dismissing people solely by their reputation and single mistakes that create a magnitude effect on their lives. It was thought-provoking, it was excruciatingly genuine and hopeful and potent and real. The author wrote in such a way that I felt as if my heart was being ripped into pieces, slowly and steadily, painful with every shred. When I finished reading the last page, I clutched this book tightly to my chest, while tears slowly trickled down my cheeks. Please, don’t miss out on this one, my darlings. A book to be remembered for a very long time…

And lastly, quotes that will make your heart melt:

“Forgetting isn't enough. You can paddle away from the memories and think they are gone. But they will keep floating back, again and again and again. They circle you, like sharks. Until, unless, something, someone? Can do more than just cover the wound.”

“Sometimes rescue comes to you. It just shows up, and you do nothing. Maybe you deserve it, maybe you don't. But be ready, when it comes, to decide if you will take the outstretched hand and let it pull you ashore.”

Well now, that’s it for today, ladies and gentleman! I hope you enjoyed my erratic ramblings/gushing/raving. :)

You can find Leanne on: Blog | Goodreads | Twitter

Brodie the friendly Eidorb would like to finish by saying:

The talented writers who have been guest posting on my blog the past month or two have continually blown me away with their beautiful writing. Not that I'm surprised, because have you visited each of their blogs?! Leanne is clearly no exception; her stunning writing is a highly effective form of mind control, because now I'm desperate to read Story of A Girl; a novel I've been aware of for years but stupidly never felt inclined to pick up. I LOVE STORIES THAT SHRED MY HEART!! I wholly agree with her thoughts on Before I Fall too. I was a mess by the end of the book!


  1. Oh, Leanne! Oh, Brodie! You do not know how much I now need to read Story of a Girl! What a fantastic post! Though most of the books mentioned at the very beginning I haven't read, some I haven't even heard of. Shall have to look up. BUT! But but but! Before I Fall killed me! Oh, it hurt! It was wonderful, and beautiful, and so, so sad! Lauren Oliver is just completely wonderful! As was this guest post - thank you!

    1. Lauren Oliver was an author born to write, for sure. :) And *blushes* thank you, Jo! :)

      Also, thank you so much for the opportunity to post on your blog and the kind words, Brodie! :)

  2. LEANNE! I feel the same way about tear-jerkers! Although several books have affected me deeply in the past, most of those took A LOT of convincing from friends, and I generally tend to automatically turn away from them. I don't like feeling overly emotional... so these sorts of reads are few and far between for me. Before I Fall just so happens to be one of those that I've managed to read, and, oh, I loved it so much! The ending left me sobbing too but I appreciated the book overall. Wonderful post, Brodie and Leanne! :)

    1. SAM! I KNOW, RIGHT? I loathe crying in books. Too... messy. ;) And I hate when the prose is overwrought in books, too. Lauren Oliver's writing, however, is incredible! No sappy melodrama in this one... And thanks, love!

  3. Amazing guest post, Leanne! AAHH! I agree - both these novels made me have SO MANY FEELS but not as much as books like Harry Potter or any Melina Marchetta novels that just make me tear up EVERY TIME. I'm so glad these books had such a profound impact on you - they were beautiful - and this post is simply lovely! :)

    1. Thank you, Keertana! Yup, Melina Marchetta is pretty hard to top - don't worry, I'll be featuring her work in another upcoming post of mine. Prepare for the FEELS.

  4. OH MY GOSH, BEFORE I FALL. That book had me crying like a baby.... IN PUBLIC! It was so embarrassing andd when people asked why I was crying I started stuttering and couldn't even answer them. I haven't read the last book, so I skipped that part but I definitely added it to my TBR.

    1. I read Mockingjay on the train and I started bawling midway through whilst people were looking at me in a very uncomfortable manner. It was awful, but the book was all worth it. :)

  5. Lovely guest post, Leanne! I read Before I Fall a few months ago and though it took me awhile to get into, in the end I really loved it. Plus, THAT ENDING. My goodness, talk about heart wrenching! I cried like a baby. I haven't read Story of A Girl but I've heard amazing things. I will, I will, I will read it soon (if I don't, feel free to put me in the time out corner), especially since I've yet to discover Sara Zarr.

    It was thought-provoking, it was excruciatingly genuine and hopeful and potent and real. The author wrote in such a way that I felt as if my heart was being ripped into pieces, slowly and steadily, painful with every shred. - Woah, sign me up!

    1. Since I didn't read spoilers of the ending in Before I Fall prior to reading it, the ending was a complete and utter shock to me. I didn't even have enough time to brace myself before my heart began to melt and oh, the tears! And thank you, Rebecca!
      Yes, Sara Zarr's novels are all a must-read. ;)

  6. Books can touch me in the most unexpected ways.. Sometimes, I don't even see it coming and it still manages to break me. I have some weak spots, like broken relationships as in Tiger Lily. Or when I need to say goodbye to a favorite character, like Snape. Sometimes, I even want to cry over scenes that aren't meant to be sad, but they still do something with me :p

    I haven't read the two books you've mentioned, but I will definitely take al ook at them! :) Amazing post!

    1. Those are always the best types of books - the ones that creep up on you and catch you completely and utterly unaware with its sheer brilliance. It happened to me with Gone With the Wind, for example. Or my first Melina Marchetta book, On the Jellicoe Road.

      And YES! Tiger Lily was an extraordinary book that made my heart hurt so. :( Sad but incredibly beautiful...

      And thank you, Mel! I hope you find the opportunity to read Story of a Girl sometime. :)

  7. I loooove emotional rollercoasters (when I'm in the right frame of mind). Your thoughts on Before I Fall? SPOT. ON. I haven't read Story of a Girl yet -- ugh, I'm the same as that crazy Eidorb -- but I sooo want to now. Thanks for the awesome post, Leanne!

    1. Thanks Sonia! I hope you get to read Story of a Girl sometime. I promise you, it's UNFORGETTABLE. It's quite the hidden gem, in fact. :)


    ... you're reading DoBaS!!!! HOW IS IT, HOW IS IT, HOW IS IT?!?!?!

  9. Ooh, this is an excellent post! I tried out Before I fall once or twice a few years ago, but didn't get into it... maybe I should revisit it? And I've never even heard of Story of a Girl- definitely going to look at them on goodreads!

  10. Leanne! You know my feelings on Story of a Girl - it's my soul-book! And Before I Fall is just amazing, too!


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