Books that made us cry in 2018

Our staff share the books that made them cry this year.

‘Slam poet Elizabeth Acevedo is one of the most exciting young voices writing today. Her powerful verse novel The Poet X won the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature, the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award for Best Fiction and was a stand-out favourite with our staff. The story about a young woman who uses poetry as a means to understand her relationship to the world is written in prose so visceral, immediate and raw, that I found myself ugly crying by the end.’

Lian Hingee

‘There is a scene in the early parts of Sally Rooney’s Normal People, involving a school dance, that made me weep. It’s a fairly low stakes scene in the grand scheme of things, but the depth of emotion I felt for the character of Marianne in that moment is testament to the power of Rooney’s writing. If you haven’t read Normal People yet, you must.’

Nina Kenwood

‘One book that had me crying (and laughing) is Oliver Laing’s amazing and excoriating Crudo. Laing’s first novel takes the first year of Trump and the protagonists move towards commitment to howl at the world in the way we all need to at the moment.’

Marie Matteson

‘Elizabeth Acevedo’s debut novel, The Poet X, is warm, perceptive and courageous in a way that made me weep into my pillow. This is a beautiful coming of age story set in Harlem and told in verse by protagonist Xiomara. It deals very intuitively with the complexities of racism and sexism woven through families, and sometimes even through love. To give you an idea of what to expect, I recommend you check out this video of the author performing her own slam poetry.

Yes, and this is how you are a citizen: Come on. Let it go. Move on. Claudia Rankine’s language is deeply unparalleled: she is a writer everyone should read. Citizen is a meditation on visibility and invisibility; how race shapes both our ways of seeing and our ability to be seen. Here in extended lyric form (including photography and artwork) Rankine names the unnameable, renders tangible the intangible, and gives form to power as it speaks through subjects, and not simply of them. Her work speaks not just to race in North America, but straight to the heart of America itself.’

Britt Munro

‘Two timely Australian young adult novels come to mind straightaway: Between Us critiques Australia’s current immigration policies, while Catching Teller Crow unpacks the legacy of the Stolen Generations. Both are beautifully written and ambitious works that play with the boundaries of the traditional novel format, and both made me cry.

I also cried during some of the most harrowing moments in Fiona Wright’s essay collection, The World Was Whole (read my review here), and at parts of Sally Rooney’s novel Normal people (read my review here). Wright and Rooney are each extraordinary writers and convey a depth of feeling in their reflections on everyday life.’

Bronte Coates

The Heart’s Invisible Furies is a big, wonderful book that tells the life story of Cyril, a gay man growing up in homophobic Catholic Ireland. Cyril is born out of wedlock and adopted by a very wealthy, eccentric couple. There are so many terrible things that happen to Cyril from childhood through to, but the relationships he forms throughout his life are all written so well, and all of Boyne’s characters are very easy to become attached to. This is a heartfelt book with a lovely resolution that made me cry happy and sad tears.’

Ellen Cregan

‘The end imagery of the My Year of Rest and Relaxation has stayed with me like a tight knot of sadness. I’m sure I’m projecting other acts of brutality with that particular ending, but nevertheless the grief of it all has been stark in my mind for some time now.’

Chris Gordon

‘Look, it took me a while to get into If Cats Disappeared from the World. I didn’t adore it at first – it seemed a little chaotic and there were far too many exclamation marks for my taste – but then, in the final pages, I was in absolute floods of tears and emotionally strung out for hours afterwards.

Generally though, it’s those sneaky children’s books that set me off. Michelle Cuevas’s beautiful middle-grade novel, The Care and Feeding of a Pet Black Hole, left me a happy, grief-stricken mess, and Bob by Wendy Maas and Rebecca Stead likewise had me searching for where I’d last thrown the tissue box from my last weepy book.’

Fiona Hardy

The Poet X

The Poet X

Elizabeth Acevedo

$19.99Buy now

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