Bring on the Waterworks

A friend recently told me that my latest manuscript made her cry. I thought, wow, what greater compliment could I get? What more could a writer ask for than to make a strong enough emotional connection with a reader to move her to tears?

The last book I read that made my eyes well up was That Thing That Happened by Libby Broadbent. I can’t tell you the dramatic event that happened in the story without spoiling it, but I can say there were a few gut-wrenching scenes.


As a kid, the first book that broke my heart was Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes. The true story of young girl who died of cancer after an atomic bomb decimated Hiroshima still haunts me. A few years later, The Diary of Anne Frank traumatized me in the same way.

More recently, I shed a tear or two reading the historical novel The Sunne in Splendour, when King Richard III loses his son and then his wife to consumption, and in the end is brutally butchered on the battlefield (I don’t think I’m spoiling anything for history lovers).119829

I also get choked up listening to certain sentimental songs. “Two Little Boys” by Rolf Harris leaps to mind, and I can barely get through “Baby Mine” from Dumbo with dry eyes. When my kids make me play the Frozen soundtrack in the van on the way to daycare, I find myself misting up while listening to “Let It Go,” and wondering what the heck is wrong with me! (But beware the fine line between poignant and cloying; take “Butterfly Kisses” and “Teen Angel” for example – ick.)

I’m more apt to lose control of my emotions while watching movies. Obvious tear jerkersSteel_Magnolias_2small that come to mind are Steel Magnolias and Beaches. And yes, my mascara ran during Titanic. I may have even shed a tear or two near the end of Tangled (raising three little girls, Disney doninates my life right now).

Finally, I must mention the much-derided miniseries Anne of Green Gables: The Continuing Story. A lot of Anne fans dislike this movie because the story departs drastically from the books, but I love it. I’ve seen it several times and never tire of Anne’s plucky spirit, the WWI intrigue, and of course the love story. Anne spends most of the movie searching war-torn Europe for Gilbert, her handsome army doctor husband who is missing in action. Eventually she comes to accept that he must have anne3wsbeen killed. My lip always trembles when a bereft Anne is cajoled into singing her wedding song to a group of soldiers—and Gilbert, by chance in the crowd, hears her voice. Discovering one another, they rush into each other’s arms … excuse me for a moment while I grab a tissue.

Time to confess! What books, songs or movies bring you to tears?


8 thoughts on “Bring on the Waterworks

  1. Susan, I love a good tear jerker…especially if there is some humor among characters added in. It’s that rolling kind of emotion that makes great stories! If you’ve made someone cry with words, you’ve made the magic happen…congratulations on your latest story, sounds like you hit a home run!


  2. Life comes in a mixed bag. Yes, bad things happen. I don’t want to read and be left in tears. There’s enough of that in real life.When we write there are moments of tears, but when balanced with the good stuff, it makes things very realistic!

    I couldn’t listen to Roberta Flack sing “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” or “Unchained Melody” by the Righteous Brothers for a few years. Either one can still bring tears to my eyes. Okay, I’m crying.


  3. I haven’t seen that Anne mini-series, but I’m going to look it up. Thanks for writing about it. Oh, and I totally agree with E. about Roberta Flack’s song, “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face.” I’ve loved that from the first moment I heard it.


  4. Like E. I think there are enough sad stories in the world. I read more than enough of these on the Internet. The books that made me cry were not romance novels: The Road of Lost Innocence by Somaly Mam. At the age of five, Somaly is left totally at the mercy of her wits. She eats what she finds in the surrounding woods of Cambodia. When she was about nine, a man claims to be her grandfather and takes her away. He treats her as an indentured servant and sells her virginity to a store owner who brutally rapes her. Later when she is twelve, the old man sells her into sexual slavery in order to pay off his debts. Her life turns into a hellish nightmare as she is shuttled through the brothels that make up the sprawling sex trade of Southeast Asia.
    Somaly, now in her early twenties, meets wealthier patrons who are able to provide her with some stepping stones out of sexual slavery.

    Unable to forget the girls she left behind, Somaly becomes a tenacious and brave leader in the fight against human trafficking. Using the little money available to her she founds AFESIP (Acting for Women in Distressing Circumstances) and dedicates her life to rescuing sex slaves–some as young as five and six–offering them shelter, rehabilitation, healing, and love and leading them into new life.

    No I don’t like stories that make me cry. I prefer comedies that make me laugh.


  5. I love a great story that’s so full of emotion it brings tears, but I prefer the ending be upbeat. A happy ending is what I love best. “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” and “The Wind Beneath My Wings” are two songs that make me cry. Always.


Please Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.