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5 Books That Broke My Heart (In a Good Way)

If you’re anything like me, you read across genre but you’re totally obsessed with romance plots. The second there’s any romantic tension between two characters you just can’t wait for them to get together… and you read on in fear that their love will end in tragedy. Maybe theirs is a forbidden love, unsustainable in their world. Maybe she was keeping a secret for the greater good but the love of her life finds out and can’t forgive her. Maybe they desperately want to be together but the timing is all wrong and it blows up in their faces.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve returned to a favorite book and the spine opens right to the most heartbreaking page, because I’ve read it again and again. The top played songs in my iTunes library are almost all melodramatic ballads. I have spent hours watching and re-watching the work of Shonda Rhimes. There’s something magic in the way they break my heart every time.

I’m convinced that wallowing through that devastation makes you a stronger writer. And so, in the pursuit of bettering your writing, I invite you to savor some of my favorite heartbreaks. Spoilers ahead!

two princesses of bamarre coverThe Two Princesses of Bamarre by Gail Carson Levine

Princesses and sisters Addie and Meryl are different in every way. Addie is scared of everything, while Meryl is fearless and dreams of adventure. They spend their childhoods play-acting the plague that killed their mother—Addie is always the sickly victim, and Meryl travels the world to find the cure. Meryl swears she’ll find the remedy when she’s older and Addie promises she’ll never die before Meryl can save her. When Addie is sixteen, the tables are turned: Meryl is dying and Addie must find the courage to save her sister. I read this in middle school and now I can’t look at the cover without getting weepy.

winner's curse coverThe Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski

The entire Winner’s Trilogy makes me emotional, but the first series of deceptions between Kestrel and Arin hit me the hardest. How can you offer your heart to someone when you must break their trust for the greater good? How do you fall in love with someone who destroyed everything you believed in? On opposite sides of a cultural and moral divide, and soon enough, a war, by the end of the book Kestrel and Arin are tangled in a web of intrigue and unable to trust each other, despite their feelings. Make sure you have The Winner’s Crime ready when you finish this one because the cliffhanger ending will stomp all over your heart. 

wuthering heights coverWuthering Heights by Emily Brontë

I adore villains. I’m especially smitten with villains in love, and amorous teenagers have never been so vicious as Catherine and Heathcliff. Wild and fierce, Cathy and Heathcliff are soulmates bound by unrelenting passion. They’re torn apart by their own malice and deceit but ultimately they cannot stay away from each other, even in death. Proud, spiteful, and miserable, these two are a toxic mess and the source of my desire to roam the moors and haunt a Byronic hero into madness. I read this book at least once a year to keep my dream alive.

looking for alaska coverLooking for Alaska by John Green

Alaska Young captivated me when I was thirteen and I’m still totally obsessed with her. Pudge, preoccupied with last words, feels like he’s never lived, and Alaska, traumatized by her mother’s death, lives like she’s going to die. He falls in love with her. Try to read the second half without falling apart.

keturah and lord death coverKeturah and Lord Death by Martine Leavitt

Beautiful, gifted storyteller Keturah wants to find her true love more than anything, but she doesn’t fit in with the rest of the village. Having grown up hearing about a fabled stag, she’s compelled to follow the hart when she spies him at the edge of the forest. She becomes lost and after three days of wandering, she senses Death is near. He shows up to take her soul and it turns out he’s a total babe. Beautiful and irresistible, he insists Keturah must die. She intrigues him with a story he’s never heard but withholds the ending, and he grants her one more day to find her true love. Ultimately, Keturah must decide to stay where she’s never been accepted or leave everything she’s ever loved, and her bittersweet decision is a heartbreaking twist on the immortal-true love trope.

What are some of your favorite sappy moments in books? Let us know in the comments below!

Author spotlight

Eleonore F.

Executive assistant at Macmillan Children's Publishing Group, New Orleans native, Taylor Swift fan, Taurus, and CW binge-watcher.

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