Did you read THE FAULT IN OUR STARS, John Green’s blockbuster novel about two cancer-stricken teenagers who fall in love?
And, if so, did you cry?
Full disclosure. I adored the book, but I did not shed a tear. I seem to be in the minority, however. My extremely practical sister said she used half a box of tissues. All this got me to thinking about the very few books I’ve cried over.
- JANE EYRE when I read it in college. I only vaguely remember the plot now, but I recall sobbing my eyes out over how unjustly poor Jane was treated.
- CLEMENTINE by Sara Pennypacker. That scene where Clementine thinks her parents are going to ask her to leave? Gets me every time.
- LITTLE DOG LOST by Marion Dane Bauer. The lonely boy. The lonely dog. The mother who just doesn’t understand. I read this out loud to my daughter and she asked, “Are you crying?” “No.” I responded, as I wiped my eyes. “I don’t even like dogs.”
- FISH IN A TREE by Lynda Mullaly Hunt. I made it until page 159. I feel superior. I have friends who didn’t last that long.
This is luminously lovely picture book about Elva who wants — more than anything — to play the violin. The book works on several fronts:
- The writing is top-shelf. Spare and evocative and precise. The first sentence says, “Above the ruffle of talk and the rustle of dresses, Elva heard music.” Wow.
- The plot is a master class in focus. There’s one problem. Elva wants to play the violin. Every scene and every action revolves around that plot point. Nothing else gets in the way.
- There’s a central, emotional theme of longing. In Elva’s case it’s a deferred dream, but anyone who has ever longed for anything will relate.
Elva’s longing comes because while she’s wanted to play the violin since she first heard one as a child, she hasn’t been able to. At first, she pretends to play, using a tennis racket. Then she grows up and tries to forget her dream. Until one day, she just can’t.
She buys a violin, and the picture of Elva hugging the violin on a busy street was the first place I got choked up. The second was when Elva takes lessons and performs in a recital where she’s the only adult student and … finally makes music. That’s when I choked up again.
My last post was about books with heart, and this story definitely has some. And it goes a step farther by inciting sniffles.
I think this story hits home because a lot of people have dreams that they’ve never pursued. Perfectly achievable ones that are almost too important to attempt. This book shows it’s never too late and that the payoff is worth the risk of beginning.
So read this book and see if you cry.
And tell me which books have made you cry in the comments.