Books that made us cry in 2019

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

“Chloe Higgins' unforgettable memoir The Girls about losing her two sisters to a car crash. The entire book is moving but it was the very last line that made me cry.”

Amanda Rayner

The Wild Robot by Peter Brown made me cry more than once while reading. A beautiful, simple story full of empathy and hope, I adored this little book and highly recommend it to readers of all ages.”

Tye Cattanach

“I’ve shed many tears while reading this year. The Friend, The Great Believers, On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous, and Lanny, are all books that tore little holes into my heart. Stories of love, loss, and devotion; stories that cut to the core of what makes us human. These were all emotionally gripping novels, from start to end. But my biggest tears came for the slimmest of books – Philippe Besson’s Lie With Me. It’s so sparse and elegant that it fooled me into keeping my distance, until its final paragraph, which stunned me with the keenness of its romantic truth, like a knife straight to the heart. My breath quickens and my tear ducts moisten just thinking about it. Books can be funny like that.”

Joanna Di Mattia

The Nickel Boys. Look, I don’t cry as a rule (except for the year post baby when a tissue commercial had me on my knees) but this book made me feel sick with disgust and discomfort, and a normal person would cry.”

Rosalind McClintock

“This year I read The Arsonist – Chloe Hooper’s confronting investigation into one of the people accused of starting fires on Black Saturday. This book is riveting, and is sad in a number of ways. First, and perhaps most obviously, it’s tackling a horribly sad incident. The Black Saturday fires claimed numerous lives, and even more were injured or lost their homes. Then there’s its depiction of the life of its subject: Brendan Sokaluk. Sokaluk is intellectually disabled, and despite having loving parents, was bullied horribly as he grew up in the Latrobe valley. In Hooper’s account, it’s unclear whether or not Sokaluk understands what he actually did. But she does interrogate some of the grim realities of poverty in a dying town, which makes this tough but essential reading.

I don’t think Lanny is an inherently sad book, but it is a book about a child going missing, which is stressful to say the absolute least. Max Porter writes beautifully about sad things, and Lanny is a great example of this. The way he depicts Lanny’s parents, each on their own separate spirals of anxiety and grief for their missing son, is unforgettable.”

Ellen Cregan

“The most recent book I cried over was Nova Weetman’s beautiful, smart middle fiction book Sick Bay. This story of two kids, drawn to the sick bay (and each other) for very different reasons, broke my heart and stitched it right up again. Grief, physical and mental illness, friendships toxic and kind – it’s all there, and it’s wonderful.”

Fiona Hardy

“I found A Heart in a Body in a World by Deb Caletti very moving to read. The story starts slowly, when high school student Annabelle spontaneously begins an ultra-distance marathon run from her hometown of Seattle, with the aim of getting to Washington. Annabelle’s grandfather drops everything to become her support crew in his motorhome, and as the miles tick over we find out what Annabelle is running from and why she feels so broken. The reason why Annabelle has PTSD is unfortunately all too common in American high schools, and that was sad enough, but I also cried the happier kind of tears because it was wonderful to see Annabelle put herself back together again on the road.”

Leanne Hall

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Max Porter

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