Literary Mama writing about the many faces of motherhood
Essential Reading: Tears (Books That Made Us Weep)

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This month, we asked our editors to share books that brought them to tears; let us know, in the comments, what titles make you weep?

The summer I was 12, I sat on the edge of the tub in the bathroom I shared with my brothers and sister in my parents' house and sobbed. I turned the pages of Wilson Rawl's Where the Red Fern Grows between constrained gulps of air. I think I chose the bathroom, in part, to be near the roll of toilet paper. Also, in a house of five kids, privacy was hard to find. And I needed to be alone. It wasn't that I was ashamed of my tears but rather that Rawl's tale of a boy and his two hunting dogs had become my world and my world alone. I did not want to share. No one else could possibly understand or know these characters the way I did.

Years later, in a near perfect mirror of my childhood self, I tucked myself in an easy chair in the living room of my house with a copy of The Other End of the Leash by Patricia McConnell and, once again, sobbed. This time the story was a piece of nonfiction by an animal behaviorist and about her relationship to her dogs. A box of kleenex sat nearby. And now I know: dog books are my Achilles' heel.

Editor-in-Chief, Caroline M. Grant, wrote, "Madeleine L'Engle's A Ring of Endless Light was one of the first books that made me weep, and I still find the story of Vicky Austin's summer living in a converted island stable with her family and her dying grandfather beautifully cathartic. I love L'Engle's novel, too, because it is the book that introduced me to the poetry of John Donne."

Kristina Riggle, Fiction Co-editor, shared, "Blessings of the Animals by Katrina Kittle made me weep, not for the fractured marriage of the protagonist, but for how Cami begins to heal from this devastating event through helping abused animals recover. I'm afraid this description makes the book sound treacly and simple; this novel is anything but. Blessings is a complex and many-faceted story of marriage in many forms: from the many-years married to the recently engaged, including those who choose not to officially wed, and gay couples who legally cannot."


Rhena Tantisunthorn received her MFA in Creative Writing from Columbia University in 2007. She lives in Minneapolis with her husband and daughter and is currently working on a book about her experiences working with Karenni refugees on the Thai-Burma border. You can find her blog here: Rhena Tan.


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