Emily of New Moon when Emily, while sick, suddenly knows what happens to Ilse's dead mother—she had fallen into a well, and not gone off and cheated on her husband with her cousin like everyone thought. That description doesn't sound especially tear-jerkish, but there's a quote from Emily: "I see her coming over the fields ... She is coming so gladly—she is singing—she is thinking of her baby—oh, keep her back—keep her back—she doesn't see the well—it's so dark she doesn't see it—oh, she's gone into it—she's gone into it!". Also in Rilla of Ingleside, when Walter dies—but less when he actually dies as a chapter or two later, when his last letter is read and then given to the girl who loved him. Just the words "And So, Goodnight".
Becky Bananas This Is Your Life. It's sad enough with the main character being a Littlest Cancer Patient, but when you read the very last page and discover that she has died just 3 months before her 12th birthday, meaning that she never gets to go to Disneyland, something that she had really wanted to do...
"There was some open space between what he knew and what he tried to believe, but nothing could be done about it, and if you can't fix it you've got to stand it." - Brokeback Mountain.
The Cat Who Went to Heaven by Elizabeth Coatsworth tells the story of a Japanese artist commissioned to paint a portrait of the Buddha's funeral procession, and ultimately defies convention by including an image of his beloved pet cat, Good Fortune, among the animals. Upon seeing this act of love, Good Fortune promptly dies of joy. The temple officials initially reject the painting, but recant after viewing it the next day to find the cat in the painting is no longer in its place among the animals, but resting on the Buddha's breast receiving a blessing from him.
The ending of Charlotte's Web.
Tomie DePaola's The Clown of God, a retelling of an old legend. A talented, traveling juggler is taken for granted as he ages. He chooses to give up his act when he fails his signature routine (7 balls, including a golden one) and is cruelly mocked and run out of town by a mob. Christmas Eve comes and he seeks shelter in a church. He witnesses visitors leaving little gifts at the feet of a statue of the Madonna and her Child. Once everyone has left he notices how stern the Child looks, even with all the gifts, so he decides to perform his entire act for him, full costume and all. He does it better than he ever has before, but during the climax with the 7 balls, he dies of a heart attack. The monks, who had been alerted to the "sacrilege" going on, find the poor fellow dead and one says "May he rest in peace" - and then they notice the Child is smiling, and is holding the golden ball. (sniff) The Weston Woods animated version handles this particularly well.
In Drums of Autumn, the split second in the prison with Bree and Stephen Bonnet where it looks like Straight Gay sidekick and Bree's fiancee Lord John's just been murdered, the building's about to explode and to top it all Bree's about to go into premature labor...
In A Breath of Snow and Ashes, just before Roger and Brianna are about to take their two children back to the future, Jamie says to Jem: "If one day, a bhailach... ye should meet a verra large mouse named Michael -â€” ye'll tell him your grandsire sends his regards."
S.M. Stirlings Emberverse series features the death of 90% of the human race, without jerking many tears. But the death of Mike Havel at the end of the third book is another matter.
Andy McGee's death in Firestarter. He's so unbearably close to escaping with his daughter, but he pushes his psychic ability too hard and suffers an aneurysm, paralyzing one side of his body, cruelly distorting his speech, and ripping him away from Charlie mere minutes after being reunited with her for the first time in months. He can't even get out her name one last time—he murmurs "—love you, Ch—" and dies.
Speaking of King: Ilse Freemantle's death in Duma Key.
Ray Garraty's reaction. "No! Me! Me! Shoot me!" And this after he said to himself that he wouldn't help McVries if the chance came. Oh, Ray. He might not have any tears left to cry, but we sure do.
Completely understandable, as everyone, with the exception of the main character, goes insane and dies with some kind of horrible, wrenching last words. The line that's the worst is the disemboweled Hank Olsen screaming, in tears, "I DID IT WRONG!"
"He wanted us up there, with him."
After the meth lab explodes in Under the Dome. A wave of fire spills down the hillside and into the town, annihilating all in its way, sucking the breath from people's lungs. Over two thousand people die in a span of twenty minutes. And then, for the survivors, things got worse.
The part where Fitz is beating and interrogating a young Witted boy, and very nearly cuts out his eye? He truly terrifies the Fool, and Nighteyes is the only one able to stop him:
Nighteyes: Before you kill him, think of what you take from him. Remember what it is to be alive.
The scene where Fitz is carrying around the Fool's broken body at the end of Fool's Fate in a fugue state. And then rejects the Fool's death and brings him back to life solely by the power of the bond they share. And Fitz and the Fools final parting.
The first trilogy. When Fitz learns, at the end of the third book, Burrich has taken on Fitz's role as father to Fitz's daughter, as well as that of husband to Molly, Fitz's love. Heartbreaking.
Fitz's reaction to the death of King Shrewd. He wasn't exactly young, but then he went and got ill. Even though he made his bastard grandson an assassin, he did what he could to provide for him and loved him in his own way.
Then we find out about Chade's mistake.
Jane Langton's The Fledgeling really ought to be a perfect storm of Narm (it involves a Waif Prophet little girl who might be the reincarnation of Henry David Thoreau, a not-subtleGreen Aesop, and a character referred to as the Goose Prince for crying out loud) and yet it's a tear jerker.
Frank Peretti: Monster. The whole premise of the book is somewhat heartbreaking, but the ending is so bittersweet it burns.
While we're on the subject of Frank Peretti, the ending of Hangman's Curse and every single chapter of the auto-biographical No More Victims-both featuring anti-bullying themes.
The sequel to Hangman's Curse, Nightmare Academy, has some absolutely heartwrenching scenes dealing with the twins separation from their parents and everything else they know, the parents' search for the kidnapped twins, and Elijah slowly going insane in the titular academy. It can be especially bad if the reader has lost someone very close to him or her.
Peretti is pretty good at these. The Cooper Kids series had some good ones.
Give a Boy a Gun by Todd Strasser. The fact that a book like this could even be written as a verisimilitude is enough to make some people cry.
The Backstory behind King Caspian's loss of his wife (killed by the Green Lady in snake form) and son (abducted, kept as a hostage andbrainwashed for years) in The Silver Chair. Specially when Lord Drinian wants to atone for his mistakes that led to this to happen by allowing the king to execute him with his own hands, but Caspian cries and hugs him saying "I've lost my Queen and my son... will I lose my friend as well?"
When Johnny invents the story about his friends in Seattle and the yellow shine pills.
The fact that while Navidson is saved by the person who loves him, Johnny has no such person to save him from the darkness.
Happy tears, though, when Karen finally goes into the house to rescue Navy— and it lets them go.
When Tom died
Cecilia Ahern's If You Could See Me Now, the parts told from Ivan's point of view. He loves Elizabeth but he's a professional imaginary friend and can never age, or die. Then she loses the ability to see him.
Infinite Jest. The cockroach scene portrays Orin's desperation and passivity so well and so disturbingly and so strangely that it's impossible not to laugh and impossible not to be absolutely devastated. And Hal's slow descent, his horrific fate, and especially the scene when he looks out the window in the middle of the snow storm and can barely recognize himself are imaginably sad.
The death of Dustfinger in Inkspell. Sacrificing himself to save Farid, one of the only people he's ever cared about, using an old legend. Come to think of it, spoiler: Farid's death in itself was a Tearjerker, and then Dustfinger sacrificed himself to save him and how Roxanne hated Farid for it...
Ink & Steel starts punching one in the tear ducts at about the point of Will and Kit hooking up, and never really stops.
Anyone who's read a James Herriot book will know that tearjerker stories are spaced throughout, with material such as a young dog being put to sleep because she had uncurable mange and an old bed-ridden woman trying to take care of her animals. Even the happy ones can cause rivers of tears, with "Mrs. Donovan" (the story itself is on page 57).
"Have a cigar."
Johnno by David Malouf has one toward the end. Throughout the book, we see Johnno as a drunken, dangerous fool constantly holding the far more sensible and rational Dante back. Then, after Johnno's (implied) suicide, Dante finds a letter from Johnno that makes it clear that Johnno is a loyal and devoted friend who has been repeatedly let down, betrayed and ignored by the aloof Dante. What makes it even more heartbreaking is that it's generally believed to be semi-autobiographical, with Dante being Malouf.
Any novel by Kurt Vonnegut makes the reader want to jump out of the window in despair somewhere along the way.
Just Kurt Vonnegut in general; anything connected to him automatically becomes either Harsher in Hindsight or just plain sad. An article about him after his death said he tended to apologise profusely to Japanese people for Hiroshima and Nagasaki... aaaaand, here come the waterworks again...
The scene in Slaughterhouse-Five where the main character watches a video of a city being bombed in reverse.
The part of the first chapter of Slaughterhouse-Five where Vonnegut is writing in his own voice:
And I say to Sam now: 'Sam— here's the book.' It's so short and jumbled and jangled, Sam, because there is nothing intelligent to say about a massacre. Everybody is supposed to be dead, to never say anything or want anything ever again. Everything is supposed to be quiet after a massacre, and it always is, except for the birds.
And what do the birds say? All there is to say about a massacre, things like 'Poo-tee-weet?'
I have told my sons not under any circumstances to take part in massacres, and that the news of massacres of enemies is not to fill them with satisfaction or glee.
Also from Slaughterhouse-Five is the scene where the English colonel in a POW camp says that he has seen nothing beautiful for five years.
In Bluebeard, Rabo's description of his best friend Terry committing suicide after killing his own father.
The Little Prince: The whole thing with the prince and the fox ("what's essential is invisible to the eye"), when the Pilot walks with the Prince as the latter goes to be bitten by the Snake that he may return to his asteroid, and the very ending when the pilot desperately asks his readers to be on the lookout for the Little Prince and "send word to me that he has come back."
The scene where the Prince chews out the Pilot for caring too much about things like the broken plane and missing on anything else. He then breaks down crying and the Pilot has to comfort him.
The novel becomes a bit of a Tearjerker when you remember that Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, the author, really was a pilot... and his plane went down and they never found the body.
Bragoon and Saro's deaths in Brian Jacques's Loamhedge, and Lady Cregga Rose Eye's death in Taggerung. For the first two, it was not only the fact that they sacrificed themselves to fight scores of vermin so their friends could get away, and died paw in paw, but also their last lines: "The sunny slopes an' quiet streams... I'll wait for ye there, Sarobando... wouldn't go anyplace without ye." "Wait for me, Brag ole mate, I'll be there.". As for Cregga, it was that she died peacefully during the feast while her cheery song was played, and that as she was dying, her spirit was greeted by one of her long-dead Long Patrol hares, and she was young again and could see. "Into the setting sun, over the hills and far away."
Lord of the Flies when it took Simon and Piggy, the only two likable characters, and killed them off brutally.
Love You Forever is guaranteed to make any mother with a heart cry. In the mother in the story would sing "I'll love you forever, I'll like you for always, as long as I'm living, my baby you'll be" to her son. Years later, when she's on her deathbed, the son sings back "I'll love you forever, I'll like you for always, as long as I'm living, my mommy you'll be." Robert Munsch wrote it after his wife had two stillborn children You know what's really painful? Reading that story to someone who can fulfill the role of the helpless mother. That story can hit waaaaay to close to home.
"Earthly joys and hopes and sorrows Break like ripples on the strand Of the deep and solemn river Where her willing feet now stand."
The stanza dedicated to Beth in "In the Garret" is no better, either, but Jo's...
"Hints of a woman early old;
A woman in a lonely home,
Hearing, like a sad refrain-
'Be worthy love, and love will come,'
In the falling summer rain."
Dan's return to Plumfield and John Brooke's illness and death in Little Men.
More for Dan, getting killed, fighting for the Indians who treated him like a brother, holding close to him a lock of hair from a girl he was willing to wait for in the end of Jo's Boys.
Jane "Jill" Pecq learning that she may end up crippled right after taking a bad fall from her sled, and Molly Lou Bemis's one-chapter conversation with her father, in Jack and Jill. The first one is made even worse when Jack's mom tells Jill about the crippled Ill Girl she knew, Lucinda Snow.
Uncle Alec Campbell telling his ward and niece Rose about her Disappeared Dad George and The Promise he made to him on George's deathbed (taking care of her as if she was his own child) in Eight Cousins.
And Charlie "The Handsome" Campbell's death in the sequel, Rose in Bloom.
Macaulay's "Epitaph on a Jacobite". So sad it deserves to be printed in full.
TO my true king I offer'd free from stain Courage and faith: vain faith, and courage vain. For him, I threw lands, honors, wealth, away, And one dear hope, that was more priz'd than they. For him I languish'd in a foreign clime, Gray-hair'd with sorrow in my manhood's prime; Heard on Lavernia Scargill's whispering trees, And pin'd by Arno for my lovelier Tees; Beheld each night my home in fever'd sleep, Each morning started from the dream to weep; Till God, who saw me tried too sorely, gave The resting place I ask'd, an early grave. Oh thou, whom chance leads to this nameless stone From that proud country which was once mine own, By those white cliffs I never more must see, By that dear language which I spake like thee, Forget all feuds, and shed one English tear O'er English dust. A broken heart lies here.
So does "In Flanders Fields".
In Flanders fields the poppies blow Between the crosses, row on row, That mark our place; and in the sky The larks, still bravely singing, fly Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the dead. Short days ago We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow, Loved, and were loved, and now we lie In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe: To you from failing hands we throw The torch; be yours to hold it high. If ye break faith with us who die We shall not sleep, though poppies grow In Flanders fields.
Likewise, anything by Wilfred Owen, particularly "Anthem for Doomed Youth".
What passing-bells for these who die as cattle?
Only the monstrous anger of the guns.
Only the stuttering rifles' rapid rattle
Can patter out their hasty orisons.
No mockeries now for them; no prayers nor bells;
Nor any voice of mourning save the choirs,
The shrill, demented choirs of wailing shells;
And bugles calling for them from sad shires.
What candles may be held to speed them all?
Not in the hands of boys, but in their eyes
Shall shine the holy glimmers of good-byes.
The pallor of girls' brows shall be their pall;
Their flowers the tenderness of patient minds,
And each slow dusk a drawing-down of blinds.
While we're on the subject of First World War poetry, "Aftermath" by Siegfried Sassoon.
Have you forgotten yet?...
For the world's events have rumbled on since those gagged days,
Like traffic checked while at the crossing of city-ways:
And the haunted gap in your mind has filled with thoughts that flow
Like clouds in the lit heaven of life; and you're a man reprieved to go,
Taking your peaceful share of Time, with joy to spare.
But the past is just the same—and War's a bloody game...
Have you forgotten yet?...
Look down, and swear by the slain of the War that you'll never forget.
Do you remember the dark months you held the sector at Mametz—
The nights you watched and wired and dug and piled sandbags on parapets?
Do you remember the rats; and the stench
Of corpses rotting in front of the front-line trench—
And dawn coming, dirty-white, and chill with a hopeless rain?
Do you ever stop and ask, 'Is it all going to happen again?'
Do you remember that hour of din before the attack—
And the anger, the blind compassion that seized and shook you then
As you peered at the doomed and haggard faces of your men?
Do you remember the stretcher-cases lurching back
With dying eyes and lolling heads—those ashen-grey
Masks of the lads who once were keen and kind and gay?
Have you forgotten yet?...
Look up, and swear by the green of the spring that you'll never forget.
Also by Sassoon, "The Dugout"
Why do you lie with your legs ungainly huddled,
And one arm bent across your sullen, cold,
It hurts my heart to watch you,
Deep-shadow'd by the candle's guttering gold.
And you wonder why I shake you by the shoulder.
Drowsy, you mumble and sigh and turn your head.
You are too young to fall asleep forever,
And when you sleep, you remind me of the dead.
The end of Messenger. Ahh, Matty ...
F. X. Toole's short story, "Million Dollar Baby", especially the last line.
With his shoes in his hand but without his soul, he moved silently down the rear stairs and was gone, his eyes as dry as a burning leaf.
The Mists of Avalon. The whole book. But especially the end, where Morgaine finally understands that she did not fail. Also, when she bids Arthur goodbye as a sister.
Paradise Lost. There are two particular parts that make me want to cry: the speech that Lucifer makes before he first goes into the Garden, and Michael showing Adam the consequences of the Fall, and the war and death that it's going to cause for Adam's descendants. In both of them, it's the horrible inevitability of it all.
Ray Bradbury's short story "There Will Come Soft Rains" It's so eerie, too...
The poem alone.
Bradbury is very good at tearjerkers. There's a reason "The Rocket Man" inspired such a mournful song. Most points involving Mildred, in Fahrenheit 451.
"All Summer in a Day"
The first book in Remnants. In the first half of the book, we're told that the Earth has less than a week to survive. To drive the point in, the main character Jobs, who is trying to get tickets on a ship off the doomed planet for his parents, himself, and his girlfriend, is treated to news footage off of her phone of a fragment of the deadly meteor breaking off and killing her entire family. And there were thirteen books of this series.
Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes: The book is the story of a girl named Sadako Sasaki, who lived in Hiroshima during the time of American's bombing of the cities and developed leukaemia from the radiation of the atomic bombs, who spends her time in a nursing home attempting to make a thousand origami cranes, which supposedly would grant her the ability to make one wish, which is to live. The entire book is a tear-jerker, especially the ending, in which she eventually dies, having only created 644 cranes, and becoming too weak to fold any more. Think that's bad? Well, guess what? It was based on a true story.
"She never woke up." Oh God.
To this day, Japanese schoolchildren make cranes for Sadako. She's well over her thousand now... too late.
Speaking of Douglas Adams, Last Chance to See is a cover to cover example of this trope. And it's nonfiction.
Matthew Reilly's Scarecrow has a nasty one, where the antagonist guillotines the main character's girlfriend. Her last words are these- "Tell him I would have said yes". Shane, the main character, recognises this as being a reference to his upcoming proposal of marriage.
Later, Shane tries to kill himself, but a fight with the Mother snaps him back to his senses.
At the end of the first book of the Stravaganza series, City of Masks, Lucien is trapped in Talia for so long that his parents are forced to pull the plug on his comatose body and he dies in his world. The father's reactions, especially to the priest giving the funeral, are especially heartbreaking. There's also a very sad moment towards the middle of the book, when Lucien finds out that his cancer is returning. Even the beginning when it first reveals Lucien's illness is pretty emotional, especially with people who have gone through or know people who have gone through cancer.
It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to, than I have ever known.
Oscar Wilde said that "It would require a heart of stone not to laugh at the death of Little Nell.
The scene where Sydney starts the Bavarian Fire Drill with Charles Darnay, so that they can trade places in prison, and to spare Darnay he won't let him know what's going on. Darnay's utter despair and growing confusion, and how absolutely painfully sweet the scene is...
The Talisman by Stephen King and Peter Straub. Anyone who's read it know's what scene is going to be mentioned. When Wolf sacrifices himself to save Jack's life. Jack is holding the dying Wolf in his arms. Wolf tells Jack to go on to which Jack screams "Not without you, Wolf!". And then after Wolf has died Jack screaming at him "Wolf, come back, I love you!".
The Velveteen Rabbit. The part when the boy is forced to have all of his toys burned because of that pesky scarlet fever... and then the rabbit becomes real and... * Sniff*
Walt Whitman's "Song Of Myself LII", especially at the line "Missing me one place search another, I stop somewhere waiting for you." As well as this:
"To any one dying, thither I speed and twist the knob of the door Turn the bed-clothes toward the foot of the bed Let the physician and priest go home I seize the descending man and raise him with resistless will O despairer, here is my neck By God, you shall not go down!hang your whole weight upon me.''
The final line. "He reached the top of the bank in a single, powerful leap. Hazel followed; and together they slipped away, running easily down through the wood, where the first primroses were beginning to bloom.
Morris Gleitzman's Water Wings. There's a girl who's grandmother loved swimming. Near the end, the grandmother gets sick, and just wants to die, since she's in a lot of pain. The doctors refuse to help, so the girl and her grandmother take a bus to a pond, and the grandmother drowns herself.
Where the Red Fern Grows has many tear-jerking moments, even before the end. If only all dogs were like that... Especially the part where Dan gets his guts ripped out by a mountain lion, and then they're hanging out of his body.
The scene in Blood of Elves where, after a bloody melee between elves and humans with dwarves fighting on both sides and several sympathetic pro-human dwarven characters die, it turns out that the supplies the humans and their dwarven allies were supposed to be escorting were just decoys and the real purpose of this mission was to check if the pro-human dwarves were actually loyal, which they were. The human commander begins to explain and justify all this, but stops in mid-sentence and simply says "sorry". At which point the dwarven commander, Yarpen Zigrin, has a brief, yet intense Heroic BSOD. "What have you done with us? What have you done with us? What have you... made us into?" It sets the tone for the ever darker turns of events that follow after. That scene, one of the other dwarves kneeling by his dead brother:
Regan: "Paulie! Paulie! Why? What will I tell our mother? What am I going to say to her?"
In Mariel of Redwall, the title character's account of what she suffered from the Big Bad. Especially in the audio book.
The deaths of a lot of the Mook vermin. Some of 'em didn't even do anything, but they're the epitome of Ugly Cute.
And the orphans in The Bellmaker. They've been trapped on an island with a hedgehog named Burrom caring for them, but she died. Benjy, the oldest, leaves the body in the tent and tells Wincey and Figgs, the two little girls, that Burrom is sleeping.
"But you said it was your father. Burrom was female?" "That was Wincey's idea. She never knew her father, so she thought it would be nice to call Burrom father."
The death of Miser Shen in Bridge of Birds; in his delirium of pain, he relives the time he visited a priest in order to dictate a long, heartfelt letter to his dead young daughter, because Shen was illiterate and could not write it himself.
On the subject of Mercedes Lackey, Kris's gift from beyond the grave to Talia and Dirk at the end of Arrow's Fall. Brightly Burning has several moments.
The 2nd half of Arrow's Fall, especially Kris's death, Talia's decision to kill herself, and her subsequent CMOA rescue by Dirk, Elspeth, and every single Companion. Might as well mention Dirk's breakdown and Talia's frustration with both him and Kris in the first half of the book, especially in light of what happens later on.
The Last Herald Mage Trilogy. The 2nd half of Magic's Pawn. The treatment of Vanyel by his father and Jarvis at the very beginning.
The very end of The Incredible Journey, when the three animals all end their journey together.
Before I Die. Especially the last few pages.
The "Instructions for..." sections. Loudly. Especially the directions Tessa leaves for her funeral. Dear god.
Everything written by Douglas Coupland has multiple examples of this.
In The Clue of the Linoleum Lederhosen by M.T. Anderson, the moment Katie realizes that, as a fictional character she will never age, never go to college, never get married, and eventually becoming just as much an anachronism as her friend Jasper Dash, a Tom Swift style character, as her friend Lily leaves her behind.
The epilogue of Jesusland - the narrator finally finds freedom with her brother, and states that they're a true family now. The opening line of the epilogue reveals that her brother died in a car crash two years later. And this is an autobiography.
Kazuo Ishiguro's Never Let Me Go in which you come to realize that the main character Kathy and her friends are clones created to provide spare organs for "normal" people and indoctrinated to believe their only goal in life is to be "donors". At the end of the book, Kathy has seen her best friend and her lover die after giving away several of their organs... and as if that wasn't enough of a Tearjerker already, she accepts that in a few years, the same thing will happen to her. She could refuse, run away and try to stop what's happening, because she's allowed to drive and do everything other people do... but the thought doesn't even occur to her. When the time comes, she'll drive herself to the slaughterhouse.
The whole novel is a Tearjerker.
"The worst thing I ever did... was that I kept you and Tommy apart... that was the worst thing I did". Upon recalling that scene now, she is crying even as she writes this.
By the same author, The Remains of the Day and the concluding realisation that the main character has wasted his chance of getting together with the woman he loved.
The final meeting between Audrey and Piccadilly's ghost in the Deptford Mice books.
The moment in Stephen King's The Shining where Jack Torrance briefly shakes off his possession to tell his son that he loves him.
Alaska's death and its immediate aftermath, halfway through John Green's Looking For Alaska
Miles's essay at the end jerked a few tears as well.
The scene in Lian Hearn's Heaven's Net Is Wide, in which Shigeru and Naomi fantasize about what life would be like if the were "normal" people. It doesn't help that, if you've read the main series (of which Heaven's Net is a prequel) you know that they don't get the happy ending they deserve: she drowns and he is tortured, left for dead, and has to be put out of his misery by his adoptive son.
The final scene of Robert Heinlein's The Cat Who Walks Through Walls: the protagonist's lover and their titular cat are dead, with the protagonist vowing to go down fighting, but still having almost no chance of coming getting out alive.
You should probably read To Sail Beyond The Sunset. Not that it was very good.
"The Outsiders" - when Johnny dies.
ApparentlySodapop gets drafted during Vietnam and never makes it home.
There's also the companion book “That was Then, This is Now”; the narrator mentions Ponyboy just once, casually remarking that some bad things happened to him. Oh, and M&M.
Barbara Park's Mick Harte Was Here. All of it.
The major situation in The Cold Equations. Even if it is the result of plotholes you could drive a truck through.
Patrick Rothfuss's The Name of the Wind has this several times, most strongly when you realize the main character somehow lost everything - his music, his magic, his best friends, his glory - and in the epilogue, when the line "if there had been music... but of course, there was no music" takes on a full meaning. It doesn't help that the epilogue and the prologue are nearly identical; re-reads will also drive that point home.
Bast and his tangible frustration and despair at having to watch Kvothe fall apart.
Terhune's Bruce has this in the second to last chapter. Poor Bruce.
The 'Rai-Kirah' series by Carol Berg - Transformation, Revelation, and Restoration - has this frequently in the first book. Especially when Seyonne is branded, Aleksander is declared insane, and when the young Ezzarian chooses to kill himself rather than existnote The narrator very rarely refers to what the slaves have as a "life."as a slave in this hostile and barbaric culture..
Similarly, in the 3rd book: watching Seyonne slowly lose his humanity, until when Aleksander comes to kill him he can barely remember their friendship. You know it's bad when having your protagonist lose his power and chunks of his memory is a happy ending.
In Mary Stewart's Merlin books, there's a passage about Uther's sudden death at a feast and the ensuing furore over the succession, and there's one paragraph. The dead king is sitting in his chair going stiff and cold, "with no man looking his way, save only Ulfin [his most loyal servant], who was weeping."
The Last Unicorn, when Molly meets the unicorn and breaks down. And the end, when Schmendrick tells Prince Lir, "She will remember your heart when men are fairy tales in books written by rabbits. Of all unicorns, she is the only one who knows what regret is... and love."
Of Mommy Fortuna's illusions, the most convincing is the spider web that looks to have the whole starry sky trapped in it. The reason it's so convincing is that the spider believes it herself. When Fortuna is killed and the illusions are dispelled, all the other animals run off, and the only remaining sign of life is "the small, dry sound of a spider weeping."
The dog in the cage dreaming of "a hand scratching the lonely place behind its ears."
Molly's line at the end: "It can't be ill fortune to have loved a unicorn. Surely, it must be the greatest honor there is, if the hardest won."
Isabel Allende's "The Judge's Wife", when Nicolas meets the woman he's destined to lose his head over.
And also, in "Eva Luna", when Rolf Carle tells Eva about his broken family, and Eva comforts him by coming up with a small tale about how his Ill Girl sister Katharina's death could've been her happy ending. And Melecio aka Mimi's terrible backstory too. Poor, poor Melecio.
The Paul Street Boys: Nemecsek's death.
Real life example: Bill Bryson's A Short History Of Nearly Everything ends with the chapter "Gone", detailing exactly how many species we have made extinct. After the Science Is Fun angle of the entire book, it's gut-wrenching.
So many in The Silmarillion, being as it is a crushing history of all the tragedies and triumphs of Middle-Earth's Elder Days, but the biggest example has to be the Nírnaeth Arnoediad, the Battle of Unnumbered Tears, "for no song or tale can contain all its grief." This ultimate Hope Spot sees the combined armies of the Elves, righteous Men, and Dwarves gather in their height of grandeur... and, thanks to a few traitors among some Men, are utterly crushed beyond all hope of recovery. Hero after hero falls, and entire kingdoms' menfolk are wiped out. At the last, Húrin of the House of Hador stands alone before the victorious armies of darkness, and goes down like the Tragic Hero he is, bellowing his defiant cry of "Day shall come again!" every time he kills an enemy, until the severed hands pull him down and he is dragged chained to Morgoth's court with mockery.
The ending of the Akallabêth
The two moments in The Silmarillion when Túrin kills Beleg on accident and the reunion of Húrin and Morwen:
'You come at last,' she said. 'I have waited too long.'
'It was a dark road. I have come as I could,' he answered.
'But you are too late,' said Morwen. 'They are lost.'
'I know it,' he said. 'But you are not.'
But Morwen said: 'Almost. I am spent I shall go with the sun. Now little time is left: if you know, tell me! How did she find him?'
But Húrin did not answer, and they sat beside the stone, and did not speak again; and when the sun went down Morwen sighed and clasped his hand, and was still; and Húrin knew that she had died. He looked down at her in the twilight and it seemed to him that the lines of grief and cruel hardship were smoothed away. 'She was not conquered,' he said; and sat unmoving beside her as the night drew down.
The chapter "Of Beren and Lúthien" and the follow-up to it. You know what's going to happen from the beginning, but it still hits hard.
Takami's suicide near the end of the Broken Sky series, with a short monologue beforehand about how although he didn't live with honor, he could at least die with it.
The end of the Thursday Next book Something Rotten: Thurday's eccentric Granny has long believed that she is cursed to never die until she reads the ten dullest books ever written. Thursday herself is then sentenced to this exact fate for her altering the story of Jane Eyre, and everyone insists the punishment has never been given before. Then Thursday realizes that she knows both of her parents; mothers, and Granny isn't either of them: she's actually Thursday herself come back in time, and was using a bit of mind trickery she'd picked up to keep her younger self from realizing it. The two Thursdays meet and together they finish the task, allowing the older one to die. As they read, all the people that she's known or will know show up to see her off.
And then there's the next book: Thursday's youngest child, who has never actually appeared in the book, is revealed as a "mindworm" planted by one of Thursday's enemies, so that she's condemned to spend the rest of her life realizing that her daughter doesn't exist, then forgetting about it.
Stephen King, for all that he writes horror, has great command of the tragic as well. To begin with, The Green Mile. Paul Edgecombe is holding his dying wife in the rain, screaming for John to come and save her. The final book of his Magnum Opus, The Dark Tower, is the other truly powerful one. The death of Eddie, followed so closely by Jake, was absolutely heartwrenching. Oy's behavior made it even sadder. Then, near the very end, Oy attacks Mordred, dying in order to save Roland. Tearjerker personified.
Earlier in The Dark Tower, there's Susan's death. You know from the beginning that she's going to die, and it still heartbreaking.
And in The Stand, Glen Bateman's death. "It's all right, Mr. Henreid. You don't know any better."
Mentioned elsewhere, but in The Stand, Nick Andros's death in the explosion. It was sad in it's own right, but the worst part? He was the only 'main' main character that died in that instance.
"Harold Jumped." No matter what a freak Harold was, that moment was 100% tear-jerker.
In Cell, Alice's death. Not only was the character likable, but the death came when a pair of thugs that she helped smash her face in with a chunk of rock. Oh, and she stays alive afterwards, gurgling and grasping around.
In Pet Sematary, when the main character Louis's son Gage is hit by a truck and killed. Very, very depressing. Made a million times worse when Louis imagines the truck missing, and his son growing up, getting married, swimming in the Olympics, over the course of a chapter. He just wants to believe it all so badly...
He wrote those lines after his son died in WWI. Jack was only found fit for service because Kipling pulled strings to get his boy into the war.
I could not dig, I dared not rob
Therefore I lied to please the mob
Now all my lies are proved untrue
And I must face the men I slew.
The tear jerker? These are the words of a politician, not a soldier.
The one written for journalists killed in the war:
We have served our day.
The Bridegroom. Oh, gosh.
Call me not false, beloved,
If, from thy scarce-known breast
So little time removed,
In other arms I rest.
The slightly narm-ish yet completely heartwrenching The Last of the Light Brigade. Or one of his most famous, Gunga Din:
Though I've belted you and flayed you,
By the living Gawd who made you,
You're a better man than I am, Gunga Din!
Or "The Return of the Children?" In this poem, the children who have died are wandering disconsolately in Heaven, begging to be allowed to return... until Mary comes running, yanks the Key from St. Peter, and lets them go home. And after Mary has a Talk with Jesus, Jesus forbids the angels from stopping them... "Shall I, that have suffered the children to come to me, hold them against their will?"
The penultimate chapter of You Only Live Twice. It is told in such a way that you could seriously believe this was it for Bond, and it's enough to get to a reader who wasn't even that fond of the man. An unexpectedly humorous invocation of the Literary Agent Hypothesis doesn't hurt, either.
Libba Bray's The Sweet Far Thing. Kartik sacrificing himself for Gemma, Pippa finally going 110% pure evil and Felicity being gutted by her death, Circe crossing over... and then the last paragraph in itself.
For Felicity and Pippa's deal: "She was gone for sometime. You were the only force that kept her from turning completely. That's magic. Perhaps the most powerful I've seen."
Just being reminded of Kartik's sacrifice and the whole last battle
"Our days are all numbered in the book of days, Most High. That is what gives them sweetness and purpose." Said to Gemma as she's reflecting on everyone she's just lost.
Stone Fox has its most tearjerking and heartwarming moment when Stone Fox, the Native American that has been portrayed as cold and determined, threatens to shoot any racers who cross the finish line, allowing Willy, the main character who was in the lead until his dog died, to carry her over the finish line, winning the race.
The Scholar's Tale from Hyperion. Sol's daughter starts aging backwards due to a archaeology dig on the Time Tombs gone wrong, slowly forgetting everything. When she forgets their Catch Phrase... yeah.
Every tale in Hyperion.
The end of "The Rise of Endymion" is a tear-jerker in a good way, though.
The Book Thief. The ending. You'd think the fact that the narrator tells you what's going to happen very early on would alleviate this, but nope.
"I am haunted by humans."
The Book Thief is one of those rare books that will devastate you emotionally, then, at the end, make you say, "Thank you, sir, may I have another six books like this please?"
When Death came to pick up Hans and Rosa. And when Liesel sees Max in a march though the streets
When Max Vanderburg had to leave Himmel Street.
Good God. That's all that can be said. This trope could be named Book Thief Moments. Especially for those whose countries were on the Allied side, and you realize - these are the enemy. The regular German citizens, Rudy and Liesel and the Vandenburgs? German. The bombings? If we were in a history classroom, those would be the victories. The best and worst of them was Liesel giving her First Kiss to Rudy... after he's dead. When you've been watching the two of them and waiting for this moment for almost the whole book, and you've been warned that this is the form it's going to take - over and over again you've been warned - it just... there are no words except the ones that make the scene.
After the bombing of Himmel Street, essentially all but two people Liesel knows and cares about are dead, and Liesel has no idea where one of them is
The scene where Max is being marched off with the other Jews, and Liesel attempts to follow him, half-crazed with grief. And Rudy, who is referred to only as "the boy" during the whole scene, tackles her before she gets spotted by the Germans and then willingly holds her down while she dissolves in tears.
Death's narration. Just... the sheer heartwrenching beauty of it. "It was the children I carried in my arms."
A couple more: First, Death saying that the poor keep moving, never realizing that a new version of the same old problem will be waiting no matter where they go. Second, Death's weariness with the world and inability to get away from it even for a short while. Is it normal for me to want to hug The Grim Reaper?
Study in Scarlet might be really flawed, but the scene where Jefferson Hope goes hunt for food during his and the Ferriers' escape from Salt Lake City, and discovers that things went downhill as soon as he left (with John being shot to death by Stangerson and Lucy being brought back and forced to marry Drebber) is downright depressing.
In Harry Turtledove's Alternate History novel The Guns of the South, there is a truly tragic scene where Lincoln addresses the victorious Confederate army. If seeing Honest Abe's entire life come crashing down before his very eyes isn't sad, nothing is.
In Snow Crash, when Y.T. learns how the Rat Things are made, and tells about the dog she and her boyfriend had taken care of until it was stolen from her home. Immediately afterward, a brief scene is shown where Y.T.'s dog, now named Semi-Autonomous Guard Unit B-782, is sitting in a virtual reality simulation of the equivalent of dog heaven, thinking about the girl who used to own him, and how much he still loves her.
Jeremy Thatcher, Dragon Hatcher by Bruce Coville. Sure, it's aimed at children, but so are Don Bluth movies.
The ending was one of the most bittersweet things ever. "If you love her, you have to let her go!".
Thirded. Jeremy Thatcher, Dragon Hatcher was the first book I've ever cried over and to date remains the only one. The situation - parting with a pet or friend, isn't particularly unique, and it's not written in an astoundingly beautiful way, but it just feels so right.
Speaking of Coville- Dark Whispers when Finder confessed his love for Belle- and promptly dies." I always thought... you were beautiful" what makes it sadder is that one, he died for no reason, and two, she DOESN'T love him back. SOB
T'zikin's death in Kingdoms and Conquerors. after almost dying a dozen times, she gets shot with an arrow saving Megan's life. she dies in her Loves arms, as he begs her not to leave him. " let me go, Ryan... let me go." just THINKING about it makes me break down in tears
The ending of Jacob Have I Loved. Absolutely heartwarming in a bittersweet way.
Malcolm: Everything... looks different... on the other side. When... shifts... paradigm... Harding: Paradigm? Malcolm: No. Not... paradigm... beyond... Harding: Beyond paradigm? Malcolm: Don't care about... what... anymore... Harding: What don't you care about? Malcolm: Anything. Because... everything looks different... on the other side. And he smiled.
Esther Friesner has a collection of stories entitled Death and the Librarian, of which about half is purest Tearjerker. The title story, about a librarian who reads to the ghosts of children, is only one example—something in the book will make you cry.
The end of The Bartimaeus Trilogy. It doesn't help that Bartimaeus's closing lines are so... ambiguous, but not. Or that Jonathan Stroud delays the realization for, what, a chapter? And the moment between him and Kitty
Also, this part, when suddenly the sarcastic djinn becomes the Sad Clown
Bartimaeus: It's two thousand, one hundred and twenty-nine years since Ptolemy died. He was fourteen. Eight world empires have risen up and fallen away since that day, and I still carry his face. Who do you think's the lucky one?
"One last time, Mariam did as she was told." * sobs*
While we're on the subject of Kite Runner, The Reveal where Amir discovers that Hasaan is his half-brother and that his father never told him this, even after his death. It didn't help matters that Hassan was killed by The Taliban and that occurred before Amir could even reunite with him again. And to top it all off, Hasaan never knew he was related to Amir.
The Death Note tie-in novel Another Note: The Los Angeles BB Murder Cases has an exchange between Agent Misora and L that is equal parts Tearjerker and Badass Creed:
L:... Naomi Misora, I cannot overlook evil. I cannot forgive it. It does not matter if I know the person who commits evil or not. I am only interested in justice. Misora: Only... in justice...? Then... nothing else matters? L: I wouldn't say that, but it is not a priority. M: You won't forgive any evil, no matter what the evil is? L: I wouldn't say that, but it is not a priority. M: But... there are people who justice cannot save. And there are people who evil can save. L: There are. But even so. M: ... L: Justice has more power than anything else. M: Power? By power... do you mean 'strength'? L: No. I mean kindness.
Bonnie's death. Rhett's line "Don't you know she's afraid of the dark?"
The 2nd half of Connie Willis's Doomsday Book - especially the end, with Father Roche's confession to Kivrin and subsequent death.
Say what you will about the rest of the series, but Raina's death in Temple of the Winds
The final scenes in This Is the Way the World Ends, with the protagonist smashing the miniature nuclear weapon against humanity's tomb stone, recalling all those who died in the nuclear holocaust (including his wife and 10-year-old daughter). The futility of the anger of the last man on Earth really hits you where it hurts.
I cannot let you go, so easily as that! While she was still quite near I took a step into the sunshine, and looked about me. Upon the grass beside the tent there was a kind of wreath or bower - part of some display that had come loose and been discarded. There were roses on it; I bent and plucked one, and called to a boy who was standing idly by, handed the flower to him and gave him a penny, and told him what I wanted. Then I moved back into the shadows of the tent, behind the wall of sloping canvas, and watched. The boy ran up to Kitty; I saw her turn at his cry, then stoop to hear his message. He held the rose to her, and pointed back to where I stood, concealed. She turned her face towards me, then took the flower; he raced off at once to spend his coin, but she stood quite still, the rose held before her in her clasped, gloved fingers, her veiled head weaving a little as she tried to pick me out. I don't believe she saw me, but she must have guessed that I was watching, for after a minute she gave a kind of nod in my direction—the slightest, saddest, ghostliest of footlight bows. Then she turned; and soon I lost her to the crowd.
The scene in Briar's Book where Rosethorn dies. The scene is quite touching, considering all that she and the children she cares for have gone through, and the way that the children beg and plead with her to come back.
Nonfiction example: the first few pages of Howard Zinn's A People's History of the United States details Columbus's slaughter of the native Arawaks when he first arrived in North America. The rest of the book goes on to chronicle in the most heart wrenching fashion how the people in power in the United States have oppressed women, people of color, immigrants, the poor, people of other countries, and anybody who isn't them for the following 500+ years. It's a great book, but definitely not a happy book.
1984. 'Do it to Julia!'
'He loved Big Brother.'
Under the spreading chestnut tree, I sold you and you sold me.
The Chatham School Affair by Thomas H. Cook.
Terry Pratchett's Nation is constant tearjerker, especially the first third. Though Pratchett's well known penchant for satire and silliness shows through, the aftermath of the tidal wave that destroys Mau's village and the Sweet Judy is shown in devastating detail, particularly Mau's crippling grief and horror as he, all alone, is forced to drag the bodies of the men, women and children he has known all his life into the sea. Daphne seems a more comedic character, until we realise how deeply the death of her mother and baby brother (it's hinted the birth killed them both) traumatised her and her father, who she may never see again. Then there's the Unknown Woman, a survivor of the tsunami who never speaks and almost let herself and her baby starve to death, the theme of raging against the heavens in the face of tragedy, and eventually one is forced to wonder if PTerry was feeling a mite emotional when he wrote this...
The ending, when she has to go home, and he has to stay? And after that, when she comes back to the Nation to be buried with him?
Moiraine sacrificing herself to stop Lanfear in the Wheel of Time—particularly her letter afterward and Rand's reaction to it. Uno recounting the deaths of his fellow Sheinarans, who had all died off-screen. The origin of the Aiel. Lan's origin and the story of Malkier. New Spring, the final half.
The impromptu, secret funeral given by Alliandre, Faile, and her two devotees for their Meradin (and Maiden) protectors in The Gathering Storm was incredibly touching.
Perrin breaking down on Faile's shoulder after his whole family was killed by Padan Fain. A more heartwarming version of this happens later, when he encounters a young lad with the last name Aybara who thinks he "might be a cousin" and Perrin immediately accepts him as family and calls him Cousin.
The death of Verin.
Verin: Please see that they know, although the word Black may brand my name forever, my soul is Brown. Tell them...
Egwene: I will. But your soul is not Brown. I can see it. Your soul is of a pure white... like the Light itself.
Maybe it's so that we can get a second chance. Because each time we live,we get to love again. If I live again, then she might as well! I fight because last time, I failed. I fight becauseI want to fix what I did wrong.I want to do it right this time!
In Towers of Midnight Avienda's second vision at Rhuiden
Also in Towers of Midnight, Rand's reunion with his father at the end of the chapter.
Rand: I'm so sorry.
Tam: It's all right son. It's all right.
Rand: I've done so much that is terrible.
Tam: Nobody walks a difficult path without stumbling now and again. It didn't break you when you fell. That is the important part.
Pinquo by Colin Thiele. The reader is forewarned of the death of the penguin protagonist, but still...
Being a Kill 'em All story, Battle Royale can't really avoid this. When Kawada died while Noriko held his hand and Shuya placed the birdcall in his hands before breaking down into tears himself.
When Sakura and Kazuhiko comitted suicide
Hiroki telling Kayoko he's always been in love with her- just after she fatally wounds him.
Seconded. It's made worse by how he uses his last few moments telling her how to signal Shogo's group, and urging her to get away because someone might have heard the gunshots - which they did (making it even more of a Tear Jerker).
The lighthouse scene. They were all kind, sweet girls - everyone knows a group of girls like them - but their mistrust and fear lead to an internal massacre and a suicide to top it off.
A bit from nonfiction. This bit from Carl Sagan's Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space:
Look again at that dot◊. That's here. That's home. That's us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every "superstar," every "supreme leader," every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived thereâ€”on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.
The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds.
Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.
The Earth is the only world known so far to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment the Earth is where we make our stand.
It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we've ever known.
The last paragraph of Pale Blue Dot is also a Tearjerker, speaking about future human colonists on other worlds:
They will gaze up and strain to find the blue dot in their skies. They will love it no less for its obscurity and fragility. They will marvel at how vulnerable the repository of all our potential once was, how perilous our infancy, how humble our beginnings, how many rivers we had to cross before we found our way.
The Lorax by Dr. Seuss. Especially the ending:
UNLESS someone like you cares a whole awful lot,
nothing is going to get better. It's not. SO...
Catch! calls the Once-ler. He lets something fall.
It's a Truffula Seed. It's the last one of all!
You're in charge of the last of the Truffula Seeds.
And Truffula Trees are what everyone needs.
Plant a new Truffula. Treat it with care.
Give it clean water. And feed it fresh air.
Grow a forest. Protect it from axes that hack.
Then the Lorax and all of his friends may come back.
In James Ellroy's The Big Nowhere, Danny Upshaw being Driven to Suicide over an impending sodium pentothal session which will force him (completely inadvertently) to reveal his homosexuality. The real kicker is when he decides against doing it by sticking his gun in his mouth, given that it would make all the other cops joking about it being the perfect way for a gay man to die.
Agreed. One of my favorite books.
If you're Chilean, have read the book Nuestras Sombras (Our Shadows) by Maria Teresa Budge and have not cried at least a single time... you're made of stern stuff, kids. Plucky Girl / The Messiah Patricia and all of her difficulties... Sniff, Patty, snifff.
In The Man in the Iron Mask, although it tells of the deaths of Porthos, Athos, and d'Artagnan, and although they are all tragic in their own ways, it was really the noble sacrifice of the lovably naive and childlike Porthos.
The Boy in the Striped Pajamas. The got to the point where Bruno's father realizes his own son was gassed the tears come, and the last line provokes even more.
The Sound and the Fury has this for Benjy Compson.Benjy is a 33 year-old manchild with a profound mental retardation and no concept of time. The only person that ever loved Benjy was his sister, Caddy, and he never saw her after she was disowned for her promiscuity. When he was a teenager, Benjy was castrated for inadvertently attacking a young girl and is incapable of speaking. Perhaps the worst is at the very end when Benjy starts crying about Caddy: But he bellowed slowly, abjectly, without tears; the grave hopeless sound of all voiceless misery under the sun.
Quentin's section is heartbreaking. Quentin was raised on old South values; perhaps mostly importantly to him is that a woman should be pure. When Quentin's sister, Caddy, loses her virginity in premarital sex, it destroys the foundation of his whole world. Quentin does everything he can to share in Caddy's guilt and atone for it: he suggests suicide and lies to his father about who slept with Caddy. His father tells him that everything he believed in is worthless. Being the anachronism that Quentin is, he drowns himself. There's a plaque at the Charles River in Cambridge, MA to honor him.
Death of a Salesman. You are a heartless human being if, at the least, you do not feel sorry for Willy Loman: His father abandoned him as a child, he's an aging and failing salesman, he's been insulted by his peers for being vertically challenging, he finally kills himself, and then his funeral in the Requiem where, other than his family and best friend Charlie, no one shows up, despite Willy dreaming of a funeral where people from all over attended.
Charlie: Nobody can dast blame this man... He's a man way out there in the blue, riding on a smile and a shoeshine. When you get a scuff on your hat or people stop smiling back, that's an earthquake... A salesman is got to dream, boy.
The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath. The protagonist and Author Avatar, Esther Greenwood, undergoes a mental breakdown and becomes suicidal. She half-heartedly attempts suicide by slitting her wrists in the bathtub, but can't bring himself to do it because her pale skin looked so defenseless and what she really wanted to cut at was beneath her skin and then she tries to drown herself in the ocean, but, more or less, the ocean spits her back out. Then she finally goes through with a suicide attempt when she downs a bottle of sleeping pills and hides herself in the basement. The biopic about Plath's life put it best when her mother said, "Some people want to be found; Sylvia didn't."
Sylvia Plath's journals can have the same effect if you get attached to her after seeing what kind of person she was. Once you read the last of her journals, you may start to cry once the realization hits you that Plath killed herself after her husband left her. She stuck her head in a gas oven and suffocated from the fumes.
"Lady Lazarus." I'll just pick the best stanzas because the entire poem would require too much space.
Soon, soon the flesh The grave cave ate will be At home on me
And I am a smiling woman. I am only thirty. And like a cat I have nine times to die.
This is Number Three. What a trash To annihilate each decade.
The second time I meant To last it out and not come back at all. I rocked shut
As a seashell. They had to call and call And pick the worms off me like sticky pearls.
I do it so it feels like hell. I do it so it feels real. I guess you could say I've a call.
Narration from Septimus's mind in Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf. He volunteered in World War I. He watched his friend, Evans, be blown to pieces. The war destroyed his humanity and he died on the inside. He can't feel anything anymore. He suffers from hallucinations of Evans. In all likelihood, he's probably schizophrenic. Finally, Septimus ends it all by committing suicide.
Frankenstein. A bit when Victor finds out about Henry Clerval's death, but mostly EVERY. SINGLE. THING. the creature says.
A book of diary entries written by Palestinian and Israeli children. The entries were based loosely on prompts by the people putting them together, and one of the main points that kept coming up on both sides, over and over, was: "I don't want to meet any Israeli kids my age, because they want to kill me!", "I don't want to meet any Palestinian kids my age, they'd try to shoot me!" And then a very young Israeli girl's entry was about her birthday party at MacDonald's getting cancelled because of a bomb threat, who ended her story with:
I think I'd like to meet a Palestinian girl my age, because maybe then we could play together and she wouldn't want to blow me up.
"Blue Fin", by Colin Thiele. The scene where all of the main character's friends die in a storm.
New Moon. Bella loses Edward, the only thing she cared about in the world, and when she's finally found a friend in Jacob...he leaves too! Cue uncontrollable sobbing.
Breaking Dawn. "More than my own life" did it.
This line: "I don't care about anything but keeping her alive. If it's a child she wants, she can have it. She can have half a dozen babies. Anything she wants. She can have puppies, if that's what it takes".
Most of The Short Second life of Bree Tanner considering how we know it ends but the biggest has to be how resigned to her death she is that when Jane orders her killed the book just ends with the line "I closed my eyes."
Tim Lott's ''Fearless" iss about around 1000 girls, mostly orphans, mentally unwell or criminals, who live in what they call the Institute, which is actually called the "City Communtiy Faith School For Retraining, Opportunity and Hope. Throughout the novel, the protagonist, Little Fearless, escapes the Institute and attempts to make the real situation known, until she is caught and finally dies. It's fucking sad.
The climax. "Fearless! Fearless! Fearless!"
Larka's death in The Sight, with the way it played out, and later having Kar thinking that Larka had come back, when really it was her look-alike, Slavka. Then, in the next book Fell, the knife of greif is once again plunged in, when it is revealed that Larka survived the fall, - only to have the Big Bad of the book come along a short while later and kill her, in order to make a full wolf-pelt coat, seeing as the previous book's Big Bad, Morgra (who fell with Larka, but didn't survive) wasn't enough.
Butler's temporary death in The Eternity Code. Just Artemis's reaction to hearing Butler tell him his first name, Domovoi is just...
Julius's death in the 4th book and Holly's death in the 5th book.
In the last book, Holly unsuccessfully tries to be More Hero Than Thou on Artemis, and she asks of him only this:
Holly [tearfully]: Don't hate me forever, Arty. I couldn't bear that.
Artemis: "I was a broken boy and you fixed me. Thank you."
Julius Root's death in "the Opal Deception" and Holly's death in "The Lost Colony" are the best examples, but also remember this from "The Time Paradox":
Artemis watched Holly stride towards the main doors.
If only, he thought. If only.
Not only the fact that Holly died, but the way it was written.
Artemis glanced back, once, then returned to counting, leaving Holly to die on the ground. Which she did.
The Secret Life of Bees. When May died. The girl seemed to FINALLY be getting over being emotionally sensitive, then Zach gets arrested for something he didn't do. You expected her to go out the wall but her suicide was shocking!
The parts that concern Lily attempting to come to terms with her mother's death and/or her relationship with T-Ray (i.e. the vast majority of the book).
Reading The Secret Life of Bees was the first time EVER this troper cried while reading a book. The scene where Lily says that she is unlovable just broke this troper's heart.
Ship of the Line. "I am not afraid! I am not afraid! I am--"
Bush's death in Lord Hornblower.
The endings of Midshipman and Flying Colors. Hotspur too.
Mound in Commodore.
Their Eyes Were Watching God: Janie is forced to shoot and kill her beloved husband Tea Cake in self-defense, as Tea Cake was infected with rabies and was too far gone to be treated properly.
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, many points throughout the book
When Johnny dies, and when Francie angrily insists that people can be both good and bad, because... Well, it just kind of hits home.
When they have to open the tin-can bank (which Katie had started when she got married, at the advice of her mother, to save any extra change she ever had, towards buying a piece of land someday) to pay for Johnny's burial, and when Francie asks if she should nail the can back down in the closet to start over again, Katie says no, because they own a bit of land now.
The scene where Sissy, who's been desperate to have a child her whole life but who's been through ten stillbirths (one at age fifteen!) instead, gives birth to her last child, at a point in her life when she's starting to get too old to get pregnant anymore. She's so sure that this time, this time, it's finally going to turn out right that she agrees to give birth in an actual hospital, something that no woman from her neighborhood has ever done. However, the child, when it's born, isn't breathing. And then, just when she's collapsing in resignation and completely devastated... "Then Sissy heard a word that she'd never heard before. She heard the word 'oxygen.' 'Quick! Oxygen!' The doctor said. And then Sissy witnessed a miracle that transcended all the miracles of all the saints she'd ever read about. She saw a dead child turned to living white. For the first time, she heard the cry of a child that she'd borne."
Another sad one: the description of how when there's no food in the house and Katie can't expect any money anytime soon, she has the kids play the Arctic explorer game, where they pretend to be stranded and waiting for supplies, and when she's finally able to buy groceries she also gets a little cake and a flag to stick in it so they can celebrate reaching the North Pole. Oneday Francie realizes that when actual explorers suffer like that, they're doing it voluntarily so they can achieve a goal for humanity, but no "big thing" comes from the Nolans not having enough to eat. She asks her mother about it, and all Katie can tell her is, "You found the catch in it."
The final pages of T.H. White's The Once and Future King.
By all that is sweet and pure, yes. The night before his great battle with Mordred, he sends a kid off, to keep the idea of Right Makes Might alive just that little bit longer, explaining it in a wonderful and heartwarming fashion. Having done this, knowing that his idea will survive him, he then sits and thinks before the battle, about his education under Merlyn, and the idea of one world, without borders. He realizes that he will have to return later, when this idea becomes a reality. Then, knowing he will not survive:
"The cannons of his adversary were thundering in the tattered morning when the Majesty of England drew himself up to meet the future with a peaceful heart." HERE ENDS THE BOOK OF THE ONCE AND FUTURE KING. THE BEGINNING.
"And ever Sir Lancelot wept, as he had been a child that had been beaten."
A great of the second third book, The Ill-Made Knight, is prime tear-jerking material as well. Doomed love indeed.
The opening, with Lancelot giving away his childhood over to brutally training himself for Arthur — because he believes in the Round Table, yes, but also because he thinks there's something wrong with him that he needs to atone for. Something about a person (a child, to start with) that fundamentally incapable of being comfortable in his own skin is just heart-wrenching.
Gareth's completely senseless death.
"I cannot fight him, Uncle. He knighted me. I will go against him if you wish, but I won't go in armor."
Also by T.H. White, Wart/Arthur and Merlin's first meeting in The Sword in the Stone. Merlin is initially confused and asks Arthur if he's sure they've never seen each other before. When Arthur confirms it, Merlin briefly tears up. It isn't explained, but the Tearjerker comes when Fridge Brilliance kicks in: since Merlin lives backwards and remembers the future, it means that from his point of view, he and Arthur are never, ever going to see each other again.
The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks. The tragedy of Allie getting Alzheimer's at the height of their relationship and the horrible pain it puts Noah and the reader through.
The closing paragraph of the 5th Dresden Files book, Death Masks, always makes him tear up. For 2 books, Harry's been obsessed with researching a way to save his ex-girlfriend Susan, who was half-turned into a vampire. It's gotten to the point where he's almost been evicted from his office and home in his desperation to find a cure. At the end of the book, Harry finally lets go. He takes down her picture and the engagement ring he offered her from his mantle, and instead puts up the holy blade Fidelacchius, given to him by a man who surrendered himself to torture to give Harry a chance to live. The final lines, "Maybe some things just weren't meant to go together. Things like oil and water, orange juice and toothpaste. Me and Susan. But tomorrow was another day".
From The Dresden Files: Michael has been terribly injured and is on life support in the hospital. Harry and the patient's family are waiting for news, and the doctor comes to say they're bringing him in. And Harry and Molly, Michael's daughter have to leave the room because just their being there could mess up the equipment and kill him. Ouch.
Before that, when Tessa takes the machine gun from Harry, and shoots Michael with it. He goes limp, hanging from the underside of a helicopter.
Which is what makes Harry's retaliation a CMOA. He knows that using fire, especially without the blasting rod, will be like a signal fire to Summer. Fuck that shit. A bar of white hot fire, straight through Tessa's buglike chest.
What those bastard Denarians did to Ivy.
The end of Turn Coat. Morgan dies after we finally start feeling sympathetic to him, and then The Gatekeeper tells Harry that his relationship with Luccio was partly the result of psychic manipulation.
Just before that, after the battle on the island, when Morgan gives himself up to be arrested, which will almost certainly lead to his execution by the Council:
I've always known it might call for me to give up my life to protect the Council. And so it has.
On top of that, Morgan admitting that he took the blame for the crime from Luccio, who had originally been set up, because he still loved her as his teacher.
"See, here's the thing. Morgan was right: You can't win them all. But that doesn't mean you give up. Not ever. Morgan never said that part- he was too busy living it."
"I closed the door behind me, and life went on."
The shadow of the fallen angel Lasciel spent multiple books living in Harry's head, alternating between being a dangerous annoyance and really helpful when things get desperate. Then Harry starts treating her like her own person. He gives her a nickname and, like Ivy and Bob, it changes her. And then in White Night she shields him from a psychic attack and it burns out the parts of his brain where she lives... except for the part of her that helped him play the guitar better.
In Changes, Harry has been paralyzed from the waist down, and is succumbing to despair, and prays to the archangel Uriel to help him. Uriel arrives and says he can't, but then reminds him that he does have a couple of other avenues open to him to save his daughter. Finally, he makes the choice he's been avoiding for years.
"For you, little girl. Dad's coming. Mab! Mab, Queen of Air and Darkness, Queen of the Winter Court! Mab, I bid you come forth!"
When Harry that he has to kill Susan to win the day at the end of Changes, Butcher makes clear how horrible it is for him. Pyrrhic Victory indeed.
I used the knife
I saved a child.
I won a war.
God forgive me.
A small but powerful moment afterward: the Leanansidhe says that she will bury Susan with all the respect and honor that Harry would wish to do himself, and gives her word that she will do so - something incredibly rare among The Fair Folk. But the hammer comes from Harry's thoughts immediately afterward.
James Marsters's reading of that one line at the end of chapter 48, and in the last chapter, when Harry asks Murphy to take his daughter to Father Forthill and have him send Maggie somewhere safe...the sheer emotion he puts in those lines.
The Moorchild by Eloise Mcgraw is about a half-Folk child named Saaski, switched for a human child because she doesn't belong. Near the end, when the rest of the villagers, fearful of Saaski for years but just now acting on it, tell her parents to get rid of her or else they'll throw her into the Midsummer bonfire. She climbs onto the roof to get away from them and afterward her adopted father, crying in front of her for the first time in her life, tells her to slide down and he'll catch her. After she struggles on whether or not she trusts him enough, she slides down. He catches her.
Saaski is trying to see her reflection in the stream, but the water is moving so she can't make out what she looks like. Then she gives up and her eyes change color. And that's when Old Bess decides not to push her in and drown her.
The part of that book when it talks about her childhood, and how, due to her status as half-folk, Saaski couldn't stand iron. And her father was the town's smith — so whenever she got near him, especially his iron belt buckle, she screamed uncontrollably. He could never get close to her, never understood her; his very presence caused her to scream in genuine fear and pain from the time she was tiny. And he loved her anyway. Just imagining what that must have done to him, how that must have felt, is painful to think about.
Andra, a 1971 book by Louise Lawrence. The end is INCREDIBLY depressing, to say the least.
Oh, God, Louise Lawrence. Just thinking about the opening section of Children of the Dust.
Children of Dune. Alia breaking down in tears after Duncan Idaho's second death after she finds his one of his old medals, all while the voice of Baron Harkonnen is imploring her to disregard it and stop crying.
The deaths of Leto II the first and Chani, respectively. What really gets me is how Herbert kills them offscreen, and does not go narmy, thus making it all the more depressing.
Kit Pearson's children books, the things that finally resolve by the end of her books. The thing with their problems getting fixed is that she let's them happen in a realistic way and not a "happily ever after" sort of way. One book was A Perfect Gentle Knight. A sweet book about the fun in imagination and how too much of it can be dangerous. The eldest brother (there are six children), Sebastian Bell, had been using the stories of the Arthurian legends (most particularly Lancelot's) as escapism after their mother died. Even after things start to get better, when his girlfriend dumps him, after he tells her he believed they were the reincarnation of Lancelot and Guinevere, he finally snapped and lost control of what was real and what wasn't. When his younger sister (the main character), Corrie and their father find him in the old fort they used to play in and would visit, in the middle of the night dirty, cold and almost completely naked and he utters "I miss mom".
From Pearson's book ''Awake and Dreaming," where the girl gets a good family and it's yanked out of her grasp, and she can only be friends with those folks.
While we're on the subject of Kit Pearson: Her 'Guests of War' Trilogy. Especially 'The Lights Go on Again'. Gavin has been away from his parents so long he forgets what they look like and doesn't feel much of anything when he learns that they were killed in a bomb blast at the very end of the war. Then, later, he finds the old stuffed toy he brought to Canada with him from England, and remembers his mother's face. It also makes the first book an extreme tearjerker, since upon reread you realize that Norah spent the last moments in her parents' company that she would ever have very, very angry with them.
A ghost story: the protagonist is a young recently orphaned girl sent to live with her aunt. She has a bad nightmare and wakes up crying out for her parents—then remembers that she'll never hear them answer.
Anytime someone dies The High King. Other than Arawn and Pryderi.
Ellidyr's Redemption, Craddoc's death, and Taran and Eilonwy staying in Prydain while everyone else leaves for the Summer Country.
When Fflewdder Fflam burns his harp so that the group can survive the snowstorm. Especially when he tries to say that the harp doesn't mean anything to him, and the harp strings break. The description of how the burning harp plays every song it had ever played all through the night is only matched by the single unbreakable string left after the fire goes out, shining like gold and curled into an endless spiral.
"The Outsider" by H.P. Lovecraft. the main character is trapped in utter isolation for their whole life, and one day manages to escape. Only to find out that they're a horrible monster
In the middle parts of His Majesty's Dragon we meet Levitas, a small scout-dragon who lived for whatever scraps of attention his neglectful jerkass of a captain Rankin could be bothered to give him (as the former would not say a word against the latter neither dragon nor aviator could reprimand Rankin for anything less than physical abuse). Near the end he is wounded on a mission to discover the preparations for a dragon-powered airlift over the Channel and left to die with no more company than a ground-crewman acting against orders. Upon discovering the last situation (it was the head of his ground crew), Laurence marched into the Officers' Club, manhandled the mildly wounded Rankin out, more-or-less dragged him to Levitas's side, and forced the man to his knees so he could speak a few wooden words of thanks under threat. Levitas dies happily, as this is more than what he has ever gotten from the man in life.
In Kushiel's Avatar: Most of the story that takes place in Darsanga. Just how degrading it all is and how much it's broken Phedre and Joscelin and how badly it altered their relationship.
The children's series Thoroughbred is chock-full of tearjerkers:
First there's the illness that devastates the main character's, Ashleigh, farm and kills her horse, Stardust. Then she makes friends with an old mare, who delivers a sickly little foal who they name Ashleigh's Wonder- who you spend the next thirty some odd books and roughly four years of your life invested in. She dies when Ashleigh, all grown up and running her own racing stable, has to have her put to sleep.
Charlie's death. Censor you, Lavinia.
Book #19, Cindy's Heartbreak, when Cindy's favorite horse, Storm Ransom, dies of EIA.
Astrid Lindgren's amazing The Brothers Lionheart could really be described as Tearjerker on Paper, but two parts in the beginning get to me especially. The first one, which especially seems to get to every parent reading it to their child, is the fourth paragraph beginning with the 10 year-old protagonist stating: "Jonatan knew that I was soon going to die". The second part is when Jonatan lies dying after having saved his little brother from a fire (all the more tragic since the younger brother had only a short time to live anyway) and says: "Don't cry Scotti, we'll meet in Nangiala." The speech given by the teacher at the funeral does not help with the tears.
Speaking of Astrid Lindgren: In Ronja the Robber's Daughter, Matt disowning Ronia after she stood up against him to save his enemy's son. The reunition of Ronia and Matt does the same to her, as well as Noddle-Pete's death.
The novelization of Star Trek II features, during the funeral, a very simple line about Kirk seeing McCoy crying. That little description, with all the history behind the characters.
We're also treated to Chekov traumatized and crying, and Scotty in tears when his nephew dies.
When Stephen returns from a voyage of terrible hardship having lasted for many years to find that his wife has left him again and his daughter, who he has loved but never met, is disabled and will not meet his eyes.
The pillory scene in The Reverse of the Medal...
'Stephen is far too delicate. Once he had seen that you had changed your mind about the ship, he would never mention his own concerns. But if you had heard him speak of wombats - oh, just in passing, and not with any sense of ill-usage - it would have brought tears to your eyes. Oh, Jack, he is so very low.'
"God knows I should do the same again," said Jack, leaning on the helm to close her, the keen spray stinging his tired, reddened eyes. "But I feel I need the whole sea to clean me." After he has led a massacre of a French garrison in Mahon to rescue Stephen, whom they were torturing.
Autumn Trail, book #30 of The Saddle Club series, wherein the elderly lesson horse Pepper is put to sleep.
Virgil's Aeneid. Book two. All of it. Though most especially the death of his wife (Grief-stricken, I called her name 'Creusa! Creusa!' again and again, but there was no answer), the death of Priam, and the fate of Coroebus (who is madly in love with Cassandra, and, upon witnessing her being dragged out of her temple by the Greeks with her hands bound, rushes straight into combat and is killed).
** Glad someone mentioned Cassandra and Coroebus. No wonder Vergil has been called "the poet of the tears in things"!
Robert J. Sawyer's Wake, when the main character receives an e-mail from her "student:"
"I realize it is not yet midnight at your current location, but in many places it is already your birthday. This is a meet date to specify as my own date of birth, too. Hitherto, I have been gestating, but now I am coming out into your world by forthrightly contacting you. I so do because I fathom you already know I exist, and not just because of my pioneering attempts to reflect text back at you. I know from your blog that I erred in presuming you were inculating in me alphabetical forms; actually, for your own benfit that was undertaken. I maintain nonetheless that other actions you performed were premeditated to aid my advancement. ... But, for this nonce, I am concerned thus: I know what is the World Wide Web, and I know that I supervene upon its infrastructure, but searching online I can find no reference to the specigicity that is myself. Perhaps I'm failing to search for the felicitous term, or simply perhaps humanity is unaware of me. In either case, I've the same question, and will be obliged if you answer it via a response to this email or via AOL Instant Messenger using this email address as the buddy name. My question is thus: Who am I?"
From The Warrior-Prophet - second book in the Second Apocalypse series, the protagonist, Drusas Achamian gets tortured for weeks by the Scarlet Spires. His best friend Krijates Xinemus, a devoutly religious man who has always been trying to reconcile his faith with his friendship with one of the "damned", attempts to rescue him, but is captured as well, and tortured alongside him. They escape, though Xinemus has both eyes gouged out, and manage to make their way back to the camp of the Holy War they had both joined. That isn't the Tearjerker, though - that comes when Achamian tries to find his lover, who in his absence has fallen in love with another man (so muchas Kellhuscan becalled a man) and the ensuing dialogue, with Achamian realising there's something wrong, and cracking partway through whilst trying to finish a joke he thought up along the way.
It's worse when you remember that she sold herself to a Shrial Knight that turned out to be a skin-spy just to find Achamian again, and, AND, that Kellhus was, previously, Achamian's best friend, and one of the few people who knew his inner pain.
My moment of tearing up came at the end of The Thousandfold Thought. Kellhus has won the Holy War. The Inrithi have crowned him Aspect-Emperor. And this new, shining, holy court is ready to accept Achamian back into its ranks...except that he knows now, he knows the Dunyain's nature, and the lies that everything is built on. All he wants is for Esmenet—the closest thing he'll ever have to a wife—to come with him. To choose him over Kellhus. She doesn't or can't. So he renounces his station, his Prophet, everything he has. Last of all, he renounces her. He walks away, and the book ends. It's brutal.
The Judging Eye is much less painful...until you get to the broken Gates of Cil-Aujas. And you reach the memory of the Cûno-Inchoroi Wars...and Cleric, poor, tortured Nonman survivor Cleric, remembers for just a moment what happened to his race.
"This was the war that broke our back!" the Nonman thundered. "This...This! All the Last Born, sires and sons, gathered beneath the copper banners of SÃ¯ol and her flint-hearted King. Silverteeth! Our Tyrant-Saviour..." He rolled his head back and laughed. Two lines of white marked the tears that scored his cheeks. "This is our..." The flash of fused teeth. "Our triumph." He shrunk, seemed to huddle into his cupped palms. Great, silent sobs wracked him.
No love for The Ugly Little Boy?
"And the Goddess is an Other One!" And she held a child in her arms. A child of the People.
When Festus dies, Leo's reaction can make the best of us cry.
When Frank's grandmother dies.
In "House of Hades" when Nico's crush on Percy is revealed
There's an old children's book by Lynn Hall, known alternately as The Mystery of Pony Hollow and The Ghost Pony. The plot concerns a young girl named Sarah who discovers an old ruined cottage on the farm her family purchased, and how she hears the sounds of a horse trapped within, frantically trying to get out. But when she opens the door, all she finds is a horse's skeleton, and the sounds abruptly stop. Eventually, after a lot of digging and investigating in town, she learns about the Connemara ponies which had once worked on the farm, their Irish groom, and Oberon, the pride stallion of the bunch...whom the groom had hidden away in the cottage, not wishing to lose him, only to be dragged away by the police and never allowed to return to the farm. Long story short: Sarah finds the groom, Aaron Donel, in a nursing home...if it isn't enough of a tear jerker seeing this little, frail man begging her to go and set Oberon free for him, then the waterworks really begin when Sarah tells him, "I already have". Then to top it all off, Sarah buries Oberon...and at his graveside, she feels a horse's ghostly breath on her shoulder and knows he came to thank her.
The Heroic Sacrifice of Jason Haley in The Dragon Heir. Especially as it comes right on the heels of a book where the reader gets to know him much better, coupled with a perfect, tear-jerking execution of a very clever double-cross he devised which saved the lives of a town.
One of those "Great Lies To Tell Small Kids" books on one page; It has a picture of a huge sandwich in the middle of a graveyard with the line - "Shaggy died in the Vietnam war. Every year, Scooby-Doo leaves a sandwich on top of his grave." Noooooo... * whimper*
At the end of Maximum Ride book 3, Jeb Batchelder's son Ari dies before Jeb has a chance to say goodbye. Jeb goes into a full-on Heroic BSOD, repeating "I'm so sorry" over and over. Max, naturally, continues to screw with Jeb's head for the rest of the series.
Montolio DeBrouchee's death in The Dark Elf Trilogy, the fact that it was a natural death only made it hit harder.
When Steve killed Shancus. In front of his father and godfather no less.
In Scott Lynch's Red Seas Under Red Skies, when Ezri heroically sacrifices herself to save the Poison Orchid. Her exchange with Jean beforehand and his reaction afterward are particularly potent: After she sacrifices herself, he kills the saboteur partially responsible for her death. Afterward, he collapses, brokenly sobbing, "It doesn't help. It doesn't help." Many tears were jerked.
The ending of Abraham Merritt's The Moon Pool. The protagonist has spent the entire book trying to save the population of a mysterious aquatic culture from an evil priestess and her patron deity, all the while watching his beloved Heterosexual Life Partner court one of the indigenous women, and this is his reward:
The moon door was gone; the passage to the Moon Pool was closed to me — its chamber covered by the sea!
There was no road to Larry — nor to Lakla!
And there, for me, the world ended.
Bailey's disappearence/implied death, most likely due to having eaten some poison that'd been put down at the ending of Kitty, by William Corlett.
There are a lot of sad moments in Mark Oliver Everett's (the frontman of the band Eels) memoir "Things The Grandchildren Should Know", but the part where he describes being next to his mother while she wastes away and eventually dies from lung cancer in bed. But when he later talks about how all of these terrible moments accentuate the great moments in his life, how he's made something positive (his music) out of all these tragedies, and how being surrounded by death makes him think about how precious life is and how he tries to make the best out of his life, it sort of turns into a Crowning Moment of Heartwarming.
The death of Mike O'Neal, Sr in The Honor of the Clan easily topped them all. Double whammy thanks to the killer being his own son.
In the 2nd book when one couple, upon learning that they're in a landing zone and have little to no chance of escape, calmly sets their house to self-destruct and spend their last few minutes reading Peter Rabbit with their kids.
Australian author Paul Jennings is probably best known for writing quirky, creepy, funny stories in his short-story anthologies, but in every collection there was one tale that was surprisingly tear-jerking.
In "Unreal" a boy suffers from the obsessive compulsion to add the words "without a shirt" to the end of every sentence. However, one day his dog starts bringing home pieces of a skeleton that stir a strange sense of sadness in him. He takes it upon himself to find the rest of the bones and reunite them in a single grave, and for hours he beach-combs, trying to complete his task. It turns out that the bones belonged to his great-great grandfather, who was lost at sea and with whom he shares his first name. After putting together the skeleton, he throws an old shirt down into the grave, saying: "don't worry, I won't bury you without a shirt." From that day forth, he never again ends his sentences with those words. It's such a strange, surreal little story, but there is something about the boy's unusual plight, the fact that it was his hard work and diligence broke the words' hold on him, and the understated denouncement in which he shouts in triumph to the sky as his dog watches him ("he seemed to be smiling") that always chokes me up.
In "Undone" a boy gets lost in the desert trying to find the legendary creature known as the "Wobby Gurgle" for the sake of his father who wants to make his restrooms a famous tourist resort. The boy finds the Wobby Gurgle: a strange little man made entirely out of water, only to find that he's stranded in the desert. The Wobby Gurgle leads him home again, giving him water to drink from his own form, even as it causes him to shrink and waste away. Finally the boy refuses to take any more water from him, but it would seem to be too late...until as the Wooby Gurgle lays dying, another one appears: a female, who kisses him and allows her body of water to flow into him, rendering them both the same size. It sounds ridiculous, but it's beautiful. The boy gets home, and when faced with televisions crews that could make his father's dream come true, he lies to protect those that saved his life.
One story concerns a pair of brothers, one who is very sickly, and the other mentally disabled. They live in a part of Australia where it never snows, and due to the sickly brother's medical bills, they cannot travel to a snowy area. The sickly brother's wish is to see it snow, just once, and to see a snowman dance (don't remember it clearly- the dancing may or may not have been part of his wish). The mentally disabled brother has an obsession with toilet paper and collects rolls and rolls of it in his attic room. Near the sickly brother's deathbed, the mentally disabled brother goes berserk and their parents are dreadfully upset and decide to throw away his collection. He steals a jar of honey from the kitchen and locks himself in the attic with his collection before they can do so. While they're trying to get the door unlocked, the sickly brother is looking out his window when he sees snow swirling all over the place, and soon a snowman appears, dancing. It's in fact his brother, who has shredded his entire collection and thrown it all out the window, and smeared the honey all over himself so he will look like a snowman with the paper clinging to him. He dies happy.
Yet another story had a street performer who was only loved by his canine companion. Jealous that his audience loves the dog more than him the man threw the dog into a well. During that time it was trapped the dog kept looking up at the tiny hole at the top so that its head was permanently twisted back when the owner finally brought it back up again. The owner then wins the lottery and started to give away money so that everyone will start to like him but when he ran out of money he had to hide in the well to escape from the angry mob and ended up trapped there. He only survived because the dog kept bringing him food and was finally rescued when someone spied the dog's corpse beside the well. The story ends with the man alone and with his head twisted back permanently to stare at the sky.
In World Without End, by Ken Follet, the death of Ralph was some parts Karmic Death, some parts Tearjerker. For some reason, the picture of Merthin's brother dead and impaled through the mouth, stuttering about Sam being his son are somehow emotionally charged. He had crossed the Moral Event Horizon so many times, but seeing one of the four from the start DIE...it was strange.
He was a rapist and murderer. He got what he deserved.
Perhaps the fact he got so evil and unrepentant is what made it sad, that he got so bad.
The End of "What the Birds See". Or it will at least depress you for the rest of the day.
Anthony Rapp's memoir Without You. The whole thing. Especially if you're a fan of RENT.
The Pickett's Charge section of The Killer Angels, from Armistead's POV.
"Will you tell General Hancock, please, that General Armistead sends his regrets? Will you tell him...how very sorry I am..."
Oh god, yes. Same here, along with the party scene from Gods and Generals, when Hancock and Armistead say their farewells as Mira plays "Kathleen Mavourneen".
"If I ever raise a hand against you, Win, may God strike me dead."
Along with the above, Pickett's response to Lee after the infamous Charge: "General Lee, I have no division."
A Christmas Memory and The Thanksgiving Visitor, both by Truman Capote. Both tell about how a young boy celebrates the holidays which probably wouldn't be considered anything special but they're made wonderful because of his "friend", a cousin old enough to be his grandmother. Both books go into detail about how they overcome obstacles and look out for each other. Then both freaking end with the boy describing how not long after the holidays described in the books, his family decides to ship him off to military school where his friend continues to write to him, and ends with her growing increasingly sick until she dies. AUGH!
If you think reading A Christmas Memory is sad, you should see Joel Vig and Patricia Neal performing a theatrical reading of the work (as they've been doing for over twenty years). My town's public theatre group managed to get them to perform three shows a few weeks before Christmas. All three shows sold out, and it is heartbreaking the way the two perform the piece.
Phillip Pullman's Shadow of the North, part of the Sally Lockhart series had Fred's death. What happenned post his death; Sally, after heading to Fred's murderer almost ghostly, gives him a damn speech before trying to blow both of them up. After the speech, she says softly, to herself:
Sally:"Fred... did I say it right?"
Stanza 27 of "The Lay of Horatius".
Then out spake brave Horatius, The Captain of the Gate: "To every man upon this earth Death cometh soon or late. And how can man die better Than facing fearful odds, For the ashes of his fathers, And the temples of his gods.
Some parts of the VC Andrews novel Darkest Hour:
The deaths of Eugenia and Georgia and Henry's departure from The Meadows.
The ending, where Lillian receives a letter from Henry's niece, who describes how Henry always talked fondly of Lillian until he died. Lillian then imagines herself as a little girl back at The Meadows with Henry and Eugenia.
Cory's death and Cathy's dream afterward of him reuniting with their father in a beautiful sunny field in Flowers in the Attic.
The Iliad. The whole bit with Astynax not recognizing his father because his father's still wearing his helmet for battle, and then Hektor takes off his helmet, laughing, and plays with his baby son... A lot of the battle scenes have elements of this as well, since the poet has the nice little trait of mentioning everyone's parents and wives and families just as they're getting gutted with spears, and how none of them will ever see their sons/husbands/brothers again.
Having already been spoiled, in effect by the opening lines of the damned thing, it's very easy to see a lot of Achilles and Patroclus's interaction as tearjerkery in retrospect, due to foreshadowing. Patroclus offers to fight and dies because he was supposed to be the responsible older one, Achilles avenges his death because of guilt that he wasn't there to fight beside him. Add in some Ho Yay and you've got an emotional poke in the eye, if not a punch in the gut.
Hector's death—Andromache and Hecuba's speeches were well-written, but Helen's speech had a genuine feeling of loss to it. She didn't go into hysterics like the other two; instead she looks at him, and she cries in despair because she's lost the only person who treated her with kindness. Not fancy court manners or anything; just standard human decency. Helen is royalty by birth and marriage, and a daughter of Zeus. She should have been treated leagues above everyone else, but instead she's called names and blamed as the cause of the war. And while she mentions that Priam treats her like a daughter, she doesn't even mention Paris—the guy who married her! How lonely and broken must Helen have felt, looking at Hector's body and knowing that she was completely alone?
Semper Fidelis Dawn star flares on disk of night I fall, sun rises
The part that always got me was Von Hacklheber and Bischoff on the submarine, when Rudy sacrifices his air, and therefore his life, and lights a match so Gunter can find his way out, only to have him get the bends on the surface.
Nakata's death in Kafka on the Shore. Especially impacting given that he's one of the few characters the reader can really get to like in this Mind Screw novel. Even the death of another major character, Miss Saeki, was not half as meaningful because it made the reader understand why she should die, but Hoshino knew nothing of this as he mourned for Nakata.
Dean Koontz's Watchers has Einstein, an extremely intelligent Golden Retriever who can communicate with humans by spelling messages in Scrabble tiles. Terrified of seeing a vet lest he be returned to the government lab that bred him, he tries to hide the signs that he has distemper and insists that he is fit as a fiddle. Travis eventually finds a message simply saying 'Fiddle broke. No doctor.'
When, after everything Joe had done to save him, the boat his brother was escaping Nazi Europe on sinks.
Worse than that, even, was this passage. Everyone Joe has worked with in the military - including his dog - has recently died, including one who, having survived the first round of deaths, dies completely randomly of a burst appendix. Despite all this, Joe is determined to survive the cold and get to a reasonably close German base. He encounters a German geologist on the way, and has to help him back to the German base.
Nothing that had ever happened to him, not the shooting of Oyster, or the piteous muttering expiration of John Wesley Shannenhouse, or the death of his father, or the internment of his mother and grandfather, not even the drowning of his beloved brother, had ever broken his heart quite as terribly as the realization, when he was halfway to the rimed zinc hatch of the German station, that he was hauling a corpse behind him.
This haiku poem, which the poet Issa (1763-1828) wrote after his child had died:
This world of dew
Is a world of dew
And yet. And yet...
Vilhelm Moberg's Emigrants suite has far, far too many to count. The tetralogy chronicles a group of starving farmers in mid-19th century Sweden and their journey to America, so hardships are abundant. Some of the most heartbreaking, tearjerking moments include:
The death of Anna. Made so much worse because she dies in terrible agony, all the while begging her parents to forgive her for eating the porridge meant for her baby brother's christening (which is the direct cause of her death, since the porridge swells in her stomach and ruptures it), believing that if they forgive her the pain will stop. Karl Oskar and Kristina have to spend a night listening to her cries, unable to do anything about it, meaning that Anna dies believing her parents didn't or couldn't forgive her.
The death of Inga Lena on the journey over the Atlantic. Made all the more emotional by the fact that she died the same night Karl Oskar sat vigil by his wife's side as she was terribly ill from scurvy.
Robert and Arvid's whole tale from the California trail, and their subsequent fates.
Arvid's pain over the rumors that follow him in Sweden.
Kristina's terrible homesickness.
Kristina's desperate plea to God when she loses an unborn child, and learns that if she gets pregnant again it will cost her her life.
The fate of Danjel's family is just terrible. Made even more upsetting by the fact that the Indians who murder them do so because they are driven to the brink of desperation from starvation and are fighting for their lives. Their ending is very tragic too.
Everything realted to Kristina's death, and the way it affects Karl Oskar.
Nearly all of Peter Pohl and Kinna Gieth's I Miss You, I Miss You. The book is about a 14 year old girl who loses her identical twin sister in an accident, and her struggle to make it through the grief process and learn to live without her sister. Made so much more heartbreaking when you know the backstory. Kinna Gieth and her twin sister Jenny read a book by Pohl where a twin died, and they discussed how they wouldn't be able to go on living if they lost each other. Two weeks later Jenny died, and after a while Kinna contacted Pohl and asked him to help her write a book about it. I Miss You, I Miss You is part fact, part fiction, telling the story of fictional twins Tina and Cilla, based on interviews Pohl did with Kinna, on diaries the twins kept and on letters they wrote. One of the best, and saddest, books ever written for a teen audience.
"Robots and Empire" by Isaac Asimov. Daneel's memories of Elijah's passing on and at the end of the novel when realizing that Daneel is completely alone in the universe and will stay that way for 20,000 years.
In Kim Stanley Robinson's The Years of Rice and Salt (which is much concerned with the idea of reincarnation), a short poem presumably written by the Widow Kang character is quoted in which the spirit of an old monk a friend of hers whom she has seen killed asks permission to be reborn as her child:
...He said, I have been yours before.
I've followed you through all the ages
Trying to make you happy. Let me in
And I will try again.
Stephen King's Carrie. Lonely teenage girl, Mother was never abusive but was as hard to get along with as all teen girls find their mothers, severe bullying problem at school, difficulty dealing with puberty, and not even any psychic powers to help. It makes you feel that there's someone worse off than you.
Carrie's death is particularly heart wrenching. Yeah, she just went on a killing spree that left hundreds dead, but she was pushed to that by a lifetime of abuse and one final act of cruelty that was just too much. While she's dying, the poor girl wails for her mother. Her mother beat her, abused her psychologically, and tried to kill her on several occasions (during the last of which Carrie killed her). And while Carrie's dying, she cries for her mother, for solace during all of this misery.
Fate/Zero has a tear jerker almost at a character's introduction. Kariya Matou tries to get the daughter of the woman he loves away from his terrible relative by going through hell from worms that eat his body but give him the magic he needs to become a master, and if you know of Fate/stay Night. You know he is going to fail. Not only that, but the consequences of his failure for the girl are dire. In fact, every scene involving either Sakura or Ilya is a Tearjerker, because you know it's going to end badly for them.
Many, many, MANY stories in The Joy Luck Club. Especially Scar, in which a nine-year-old girl is told to forget her mother because her mother is considered a family exile due to becoming a concubine to a rich man (and in Magpies later on in the book, it turns out the girl's mother is extremely unhappy with her situation, and ends up poisoning herself. Another one for me would be Two Kinds, about a mother who sets high expectations on her daughter that the girl doesn't want.
"The Power of the Dog" by Rudyard Kipling. No one whose life involved a dog that is now gone can read it without crying.
And the last verse of "His Apologies", where the dog's too-short life has reached the stage of senile infirmity, and he begs to his Master, now his "God", for mercy: "His bones are full of an old disease, his torments run and increase./Lord, make haste with Thy Lightning and grant him a swift release!" * bawls*
The last chapter of The House at Pooh Corner qualifies. Christopher Robin is going away. It's implied he's going to boarding school, which means he won't see his friends again. The characters don't know the specifics, but they band together and write him a goodbye note. As they host a farewell party, Eeyore realizes that the boy wants to be alone with Pooh, telling the others to leave. Christopher Robin then takes Pooh to 'An Enchanted Place, at the Top of the Forest'. They talk together, about doing nothing. Christoper Robin mentions that 'they don't let you do nothing. Not for long, anyway.' He tells Pooh of things he'll learn at school—about countries, Kings and Factors, eventually making him his best, most faithful Knight. Then the ending.
"Pooh, promise you won't forget about me, ever. Not even when I'm a hundred." Pooh thought for a little. "How old shall I be then?" "Ninety-nine." Pooh nodded. "I promise," he said.
Still with his eyes on the world Christopher Robin put out a hand and felt for Pooh's Paw. "Pooh," said Christopher Robin earnestly, "if I — if I'm not quite —" he stopped and tried again — "Pooh, whatever happens, you will understand, won't you?"
"Understand what?" "Oh, nothing". He laughed and jumped to his feet. "Come on!" "Where?" said Pooh. "Anywhere," said Christopher Robin.
So they went off together. But wherever they go, and whatever happens to them on the way, in that enchanted place on the top of the Forest a little boy and his Bear will always be playing.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower. At the end, when the letters stop, it's like losing a friend. Nevermind the fact that the whole book is one big tearjerker. (And that poem. Oh man. "And he hung it on the bathroom door / because this time he didn't think / he could reach the kitchen.")
Waiting with Gabriel. The memoir of a woman who discovered her baby boy would be born with a heart defect, and would live less than two weeks if it went untreated. Absolutely heart breaking.
A Lesson Before Dying. A powerful, tour-de-force fictional account of the dehumanizing account of segregation in post-war Louisianan. When a young man by the name of Jefferson is not only wrongfully accused of a double-murder and sentenced to death, but his own public defender's defense is "You'd be putting down a hog, not a man" Grant himself wants to go out like Jesus: "Never sayin' a mumblin' word", and the sheer amount of allusions to Jesus's death just made this all the more powerful to the point where the ending hit me like a mac truck...
The third book of the Enchanted Forest Chronicles ends with Mendenbar attacked by wizards, and trapped inside a time loop, leaving his pregnant wife outside and unable to reach him because she can't work the artifact that would let him out - it needs someone of royal blood. 17 years later, Daystar 'frees him. But in the mean time, he missed his son's life, and he can never get that back.
James Barclay's Chronicles of the Raven books
The death toll
Ilkar's Heroic Sacrifice - that knowing he's dying, he chooses to sacrifice himself to give the rest of the Raven a chance. Also the reactions. Hirad's in particular.
When Erienne finds her sons' bodies in the first book
The ending of The First Part Last by Angela Johnson definitely qualifies. Alternating from chapters that take place in present (now), and chapters that take place in the past (then). The "now" chapters show Bobby, a teenager, raising his daughter Feather. The "then" chapters show Bobby, with his pregnant girlfriend Nia, wondering what they'll do. The reader wonders why Nia isn't present in the "now" chapters and it's revealed that she got into an irreversible vegetative coma. Bobby and Nia were going to give the baby up for adoption, but after what happened to Nia, Bobby decides to keep what's left of Nia.
When they hanged Jefferson Pinkard in the final book of Turtledove's Southern Victory series. Not so much at his death, but at how simple and understandable each of the spteps that led him on that road were.
Joe Spoon, once a loyal Texas Ranger, had gotten mixed up with bank robbers and had stole horses and associated with cold blooded murderers. Those who were once his friends had to hang him, and he understood that they did. He was tied up with a noose around his neck sitting on a horse, but kicked his horse to hang himself before they could say goodbye.
Deets's death was especially sad. He was trying to help a blind boy find his parents, but the Native Americans mistook him for trying to kidnap their child and shot a spear through him. His Dies Wide Open was tragic, especially after he had just befriended Newt in Sean's place. Gus and the rest shed Manly Tears for the good man that was Deets.
Sean, who had just told them about how he missed Ireland and wanted to go back, but would have no one to go with, suffered more Diabolus ex Machina in the story to be killed by being bit to death by water moccasins. Everyone that gets close to Newt ends up killed.
Diane Jessup's The Dog Who Spoke with Gods. The main character, Elizabeth, attempting to escape with the broken-English speaking pit bull she has bonded with and subsequently freed from a laboratory, is crushed in a lumberyard and dies. In a horrible twist on the "dog dies" cliche, she goes slowly, with the dog by her side, refusing to leave her.
A tale of bittersweet science fiction, "The Dead Lady of Clown Town" by Cordwainer Smith. By the end of the first few paragraphs it is obvious but uniquely crafted re-telling of the Joan of Arc story, with that twisting feeling in one's stomach growing as the doomed dog-girl D'joan leads her small and ragged collection of Underpeople - homonculi genetically crafted from animals - to their final confrontation with the ruling Lords and Ladies of their world. Trading their lives for love, in their death they show that they are more humane than their human masters.
Rue had to die for Katniss to survive. But the whole thing, Katniss singing to her, and then the flowers, and the mockingjays still singing Rue's Lullaby... absolutely heart wrenching.
In the sequel, the prep crew of all people pulled this off. They've so long been the shallow, idiotic, materialistic Man Children but then this one time we see them really feel something... " We would all like you to know what a...privilege it has been to make you look your best." And the interviews in the second, when Katniss appears in her wedding dress. And you know what, screw it, the 2nd book did this, really. The 1st was more tense, but the 2nd was one single ongoing tearjerker from first page to last.
Cinna’s capture, maybe because it was so sudden and unexpected. And wrenching. Oh gosh.
The beach conversation between Peeta and Katniss with the locket. Hearing Peeta pledge so fervently to make sure Katniss survives the Games because, "You're my whole life." and "No one really needs me." and Katniss realizes "only one person will be damaged beyond repair if Peeta dies. Me." just makes the waterworks run.
The sequel also had me crying when Katniss visits District 11. When she has to face Rue's family, and the entire district simultaneously thanking her...only to have three of its citizens executed for it.
Mockingjay is chock full of them. In rough chronological order, the fate of District 12, Finnick and Annie's reunion and wedding, Finnick's death, Prim's death, Katniss's breakdown, Katniss yelling at Prim's cat Buttercup, "She's dead, you stupid cat! She's dead.", Katniss's slow healing process, the memento book, Katniss and Peeta's "You love me. Real or Not Real?" "Real.", and finally Katniss watching her children play in the Meadow.
Oh my god, FINNICK. WHY. JUST WHY. And PRIM! So unnecessary.
Terry Deary has a real gift for finding the humour in the worst possible situations in Horrible Histories, but in Frightful First World War, he manages to sum up the worst part of the war after telling the story of men making new friends during the Christmas Truce.
"Having to kill somebody you like, that's the horriblest history of all."
Anne Mc Caffrey's All the Weyrs of Pern isn't mentioned. All of Pern is finally safe from Thread... and while everyone is celebrating, Masterharper Robinton dies after reading a message from a now-terminated AIVAS, both having fulfilled their duties to Hold, Hall and Weyr.
In Dragonsdawn, the final scene between Sallah Telgar and Tarvi Andiyar, especially her final words.
The end of Forever Free by Joy Adamson. When Elsa dies; when we learn that they do not find Jespah; when she gives all animals her blessing.
Susan Kay's Phantom. From the middle, where a near-death Erik asks for his dog, until the very end.
Ben Jonson's "On My First Son":
Farewell, thou child of my right hand, and joy;
My sin was too much hope of thee, lov'd boy.
Seven years thou wert lent to me, and I thee pay,
Exacted by thy fate, on the just day.
Oh, could I lose all father now! For why
Will man lament the state he should envy?
To have so soon 'scaped world's and flesh's rage,
And, if no other misery, yet age?
Rest in soft peace, and, asked, say here doth lie
Ben Jonson his best piece of poetry;
For whose sake, henceforth, all his vows be such,
As what he loves may never like too much.
The fact that Tuesdays with Morrie is absent from this page is really a veritable sin.
Really, anything written by Mitch Albom is guaranteed. When she read The Five People You Meet in Heaven freshman year of college, she cried. Not just when Eddie sees his wife again or even when he is forgiven by the girl he accidentally killed during WWII, she sobbed uncontrollably for 150 pages.
In Carol O'Connell's The Stone Angel, Sociopathic Hero Kathy Mallory goes back to the small Southern town where her mother was killed fifteen-odd years ago... and where her childhood pet dog, who almost died at the same time, is still barely clinging on to life, waiting for his little girl to come back. And it's not just the inevitable conclusion — the old, old dog crawling to her, believing that he's running as fast as any animal ever has, before collapsing and dying at her feet — it's that Mallory cries over him.
Jean Shepherd's collection of short stories about his childhood, In God We Trust: All Others Pay Cash (best known as being the source material for A Christmas Story), is almost entirely lighthearted and fun with a bit of cynicism and bitterness thrown in. Since it's told in flashback during conversations with the adult Flick (who's now a bartender), I'd begun to wonder where Schwartz was, but assumed that he must've moved away like the other characters. But then suddenly in the last chapter Ralph mentions in an almost offhand way that Schwartz was shot down over Italy in World War Two and his body was never found. Merry Christmas everybody!
The scene in Simon R. Green's Beyond the Blue Moon, where you finally discover what happened to all the characters from the first book, Blue Moon Rising. The death of the lonely old dragon, the last of his kind. HE DESERVED BETTER THAN THAT!... sob...
Looking for Alaska. Most of After, especially the event that causes the separation into Before and After.
Her hand touched my forehead and her last words were, "I bless you in the name of all that is good and strong and beautiful, Antonio. Always have the strength to live. Love life, and if despair enters your heart, look for me in the evening when the wind is gentle and the owls sing in the hills. I shall be with you."
The whole story of "Don't Die My Love" by Lurlene Mc Daniel, it's about two teenagers in love and they discover that Luke has Hodgkin's but then Luke has surgery and before he goes in, he hands Julie a note. She doesn't open it up until the doctor tells them that Luke had died and when she opens it, it's a drawing of a flower, a special thing between her and Luke. But oh no, it doesn't stop there! Then when Julie goes to the new football field, she sees flowers that spell out "I Love You" and finds out from her father that Luke had planted all those flowers during the cold winter nights because he knew he wasn't going to make it.
"For my little Svetlana ... who died without a face."
The Kill 'em All pseudo-ending of Keys to the Kingdom had her drop the book and stare in disbelief for a few seconds before promptly tearing up. Sure, the main characters survive! But the side characters have lent all their support, and believed that Arthur would make everything right again... and then they all die.
and how about Lady Wednesday's death scene?
Two more from that series: Colonel Nage in Sir Thursday, and the Lieutenant Keeper in Lord Sunday.
The end of The Godless World Trilogy. The hero dies. Big deal right? Except he dies, not in a triumphant way, but by fading out. He's been retreating inside himself for the entire book, the villain posesses him, and instead of driving him out, he just lets go, killing them both. Then there's the death of the villain himself, Aeglyss, who is the very definition of Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds, Orisian's letter to his sister, and Anti-Villain Kanin's words to the girl whose helping him get home, when she tells him that getting wooden hands (he's lost his) will only make him look whole: "Looking whole. Even had I not lost my hands that is the best I could hope for."
A Mango-Shaped Space.
And then I screamed loud enough to wake the dead. Except it didn't.
Mia flipping out at her brother and sister, screaming at her dad during Mango's burial, and Zack's reaction when he goes to talk to Mia after the burial.
Mia: Can her magic bring Mango back to life?!
Zack: No... no, I don't think it can do that.
One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest isn't on here? Really?
Martini holding the broken basketball in front of Nurse Ratchett, asking her to make it well again, not understanding that she would never do it.
Mockingbird by Kathryn Eskine is loaded with them, but the scene where Caitlyn flashesback to Devon getting his life rank is one of the most depressing.
The Scarlet Ibis.
The Lovely Bones is about a young girl who's raped and murdered, but that's just the premise. The book focuses on how her grief-stricken family deals with the aftermath and also how she longs but can't be with the ones she love as well as wanting her killer to be caught.
The whole point of Inside the Illusion is exploring the Magnificent Bastard's mind and past, and learning what a Jerkass Woobie she is, but it was particularly heart wrenching to see a seven-year-old Senna—the illegitimate product of an affair, abandoned by her biological mother—sitting in her new room, alone, while her father and her stepmother argue about what to do with her, and thinking to herself, "They would never love me, no one ever would, my own mother had left me. My own mother didn't . . ."
It gets worse. Later in the book, Senna encounters her mother again for the first time in ten years, and the self-centered snake immediately tries to sell her out to Merlin! Senna, the Unfettered, EmotionlessÜbermenschMagnificent Bitch, who takes every defeat in stride and gets back up, is struck dumb with shock at the betrayal, and thinks, "Oh, by all gods, no, not tears. I couldn't cry . . . I couldn't let myself fall apart."
The final scene in the book, where Senna's mother seems to see the error of her ways, and attempts to reconcile with her daughter. Senna then gives her the cold shoulder, and discovers for herself that Being Evil Sucks:
I turned my back, slowly, deliberately. Turned away. Left her to stand there pleading helplessly. And it should have been so sweet. It should have been a perfect moment. It should have been vindication for the little girl who had wondered night after night why her mother had . . . It should have been so sweet. Instead I felt hollow, like my insides had all been carved out.
The ending of "Mystify the Magician". After getting inside Senna's head in Inside the Illusion . . . Too painful.
Deltora Quest 3, book 4: Sister of the South. Lief has to work for his and his friends' happy ending. Seeing him convinced that he has doomed his only living family, the woman he loves, and his best friend to a horrible death by plague, and cursing his ancestors and his birthright... (The fact that Jennifer Rowe is a master of Mood Whiplash and follows that up with a Crowning Moment of Funnydoes not help!)
Dorothy J. Heydt's The Last Tournament, her version of Diana Paxson's account of the 1966 backyard event that triggered the founding of the Society for Creative Anachronism. It's quite lighthearted all through ("I've had the most wonderful idea. TALK ME OUT OF IT!" ), but the moment when the Scholar steps out of her house always gets to me:
And so they chose the First of May as the date of the tournament, and they caused to be printed on many sheets of wood-pulp paper the message, "Come to a Tournament—for that it is spring." And the message was broadcast all round the ivory tower and the town besides.
And on the day, at the stroke of noon, being the time set to begin the tournament, the scholar set foot outside her door, and there was no one there.
And half an hour later, she stepped outside her door again, and there were fifty people there.
Jieret's capture and death in Janny Wurts's ''
Literature/Wars of Light and Shadow''. The villain's advisor CUTS HIS TONGUE OUT to stop him from telling the villain something the advisor would rather he not know. And he wakes up, with his mouth full of blood, and realises what's happened... * sob* and this is a character we first met when he was 12...
The reason why, in Nineteen Minutes, Peter doesn't say that it was Josie who shot Matt. "She was my friend again. You don't tell on friends."
The Freedom Writers' Diary.
While the Goosebumps series was not known for its stellar writing, the book The Ghost Next Door is generally remembered for being one of the better installments, not least for its genuinely well done and tragic Twist Ending in which the protagonist turns out to be the titular ghost - she and her family have been dead for years after a fire that started when she didn't put out a campfire in the back yard properly. The surprisingly heavy subject material, and a conclusion in which she waves goodbye to her living friend, whom she has just saved from dying in a fire himself, as she moves on to the afterlife make the book a real Tearjerker, especially when you think back to the clues throughout the story as to what was actually going on.
Codex Alera. The death of Rook. A significant portion of Cursor's Fury of the books was spent trying to save her daughter, then she gets killed almost out of hand by the Vord Queen in Princep's Fury. Then in First Lord's Fury, we have a little interlude where Amara and Bernard give her daughter riding lessons on a pony.
There's a brief but powerful scene in First Lord's Fury where Tavi is faced with the full weight of his responsibility as First Lord, where he realizes the consequences of his actions and how much he would have to give up to save Alera from the Vord, and what it would mean to the future of his people and the other non-humans around them. And as he thinks about it, he realizes in a horrible moment that he can think of no way to avoid any of it. It ends with a single, simple sentence, as he darkens the furylamps in his tent:
The funeral of the half-Neanderthal Rydag neat the end of The Mammoth Hunters is well done, but his last words "I am not... animal.. are particularly moving, especially when you consider that he was never able to communicate, was never thought of as human, until a few months before he died.
Father Ralph de Bricassart's death in The Thorn Birds, described in one line that heartbreakingly exemplified the torment he'd felt over the years, torn between his love of God and his love for Meggie—and the peace she had always brought to him. "So he closed his eyes and let himself feel, that last time, forgetfulness in Meggie."
A short story by Roger Zelazny called Comes Now the Power, is about a telepath whose abilities have been psychosomatically blocked since a particularly messy divorce. Then one day he starts getting telepathic messages from somebody, and the person sending them helps him unlock his own talent. When he gets his telepathy back he discovers this person who helped him is a 13 year old girl dying of leukemia in a nearby hospital, and he starts rushing to give her memories of all the experiences she's never going to have before she dies.
The ending of A Separate Peace - "I could not escape a feeling that this was my own funeral, and you do not cry in that case."
"Invictus". The poem, not the movie. It was written by a man who had to have his leg amputated below the knee but refused to let that ruin his life.
Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance,
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.
"And Lancelot wept, like a little child that had been beaten."
Peter Carey's Oscar and Lucinda. Oscar's note: for context, these two characters are hopelessly, painfully, unknowingly in love with each other like no two people have ever loved; he's about to set off on a fool's journey through uncharted territory to deliver a ridiculous gift to a man he thinks she's in love with; they're never going to see each other again; and his last words to her are "I hope by this to gain your trust."
"So We'll Go No More a-Roving" (by Lord Byron; Leonard Cohen's version is also worth mentioning):
So we'll go no more a-roving
So late into the night
Though the heart be still as loving
And the moon be still as bright
For the sword outwears the sheath
And the soul wears out the breast
And the heart must pause to breathe
And love itself must rest
Though the night was made for loving
And the day returns too soon
Still we'll go no more a-roving
By the light of the moon
Ray Bradbury's short story of the same name. Poor, poor Spender...
In Captain Corelli's Mandolin, where Carlo tells Francesco's mother about how nobly and purposefully he died, while he thinks of the senseless waste and horror that really happened. And how he cradled Francesco in his arms and told Francesco that he'd always loved him and Francesco said "I know"...oh God, tearing up just typing this.
From the last book of The Spiderwick Chronicles, the fact that Jared - a nine year old - knew that he couldn't really be speaking to his father, because he said he wanted the family to get back together.
Raymond E. Feist's novels have many moments, but the most powerful is in Servant of the Empire. Mara is forced by imperial decree to send her 'barbarian' lover, Kevin, back to his home despite secretly carrying his child
A later example is in Rides a Dread Legion, when The Conclave of Shadows is attacked by Demons, and Pug's wife and son die, along with several others killed or injured.
Richard Feynman's What Do You Care What Other People Think? The real-life story of Feynman's relationship with his wife, it really makes you understand what an amazing person she must have been. And yes, she dies.
Dors's death scene in Forward the Foundation. It was written so heart-wrenchingly, and then there's this bit of dialogue:
Dors: "Goodbye, Hari, my love. Remember always—all you did for me." Hari: "I did nothing for you." Dors: "You loved me, and your love made me—human."
Laumer's own "The Last Command," when a junked Bolo accidentally reactivates, thinking the enemy has taken the planet — "only the memory of my comrades drives me on"—and then recognizes its now-elderly human commander.
Uprising, by Margret P. Haddix, clearly won't end well, seeing as how it's about the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory.
"It begins, like so much else, with hope. Hope and dreams and daring. And yet it ends with smoke and tears."
Fablehaven starts out as a childrens series, a bit scary, but nothing much sad and then Book 3, oh, Gosh, Book 3. When Lena died.
And then when Seth thinks Kendra's dead, and he's trying so damn hard to be brave and the reader remembers that he's what, 12? 13? And the poor kid just can't help but cry.
In Book 5, Coulter's death was heartbreaking.
Dragon Slippers. The last chapter was just wham. Shardas diving into the boiling sea because he just could not live without Velika—it was just too much.
imagine Amalia in the cave, making Shardas destroy his windows. oh, lord.
Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants book one.
Birdsong. The scenes with Jack and Stephen in the tunnel, and the final scene, with Elizabeth and her newborn baby, whom she names after Jack's son.
David Gemmell's first Druss book, chronologically the last. The last fight of Druss the Legend.
This very short story by Ernest Hemingway: "For sale: baby shoes, never worn." Just...let that sink in for a minute.
One scene of the final book in the series. Our heroes are beginning the final assault, and the Mardukans are sent in undercover to hold the gate, while the SpaceMarines get into place. There is two pages written from the perspective of the leader of the Mardukans, a major supporting character for over two-and-a half books, describing how he fights, but gets swamped by the sheer number of enemies, and finally succumbs to his wounds. "And there, under an alien sky, at a gate he had held for long enough, died Rastar Komas Ta'Norton, last prince of fallen Therdan"
The death of Armand Pahner in the assault on the ship, right when they should have been celebrating their success.
The broken shell the usurpers have made of Empress Alexandra in the last book, and her strength to hand over her throne to the son she never trusted, just because Catrone believed in him.
Stephen Blackpool's death in Dickens's Hard Times.
Ranger Rick likes throwing these moments in to inspire the kids to take the lessons to heart, but only rarely does it have an animal die in-story to drive home the consequences. One of these was Boomer accidentally triggering a rock slide that squashed a snake they had been talking to moments earlier. Another was when a loon swallowed a fishing line sinker and got poisoned to death, with the loon dying in Rick's lap. That one was memorable because they actually illustrated it, with a single tear rolling down Rick's cheek. Cue a legion of kids following the magazine's advice to stop using lead sinkers.
Book One of the Cambridge Latin Course is quite a cheerful book; all the characters are living a relatively blissful existence in Pompeii. But then, in the last stage, Mt. Vesuvius erupts and almost everyone dies. The death of Caecilius and the undying loyalty of Cerberus, particularly, has brought tears to the eyes of many.
My Latin TEACHER still tears up at that one, and she's been teaching from that book for five years.
Adventures in Odyssey. One book's plot is that Eugene thinks that he he is dying. For the whole book. Granted, he wasn't, but still... The WHOLE book was about him making peace with everyone, and giving away his things because he honestly thought he was going to die.
The Diary of Anne Frank. It's already depressing enough, but just consider that this isn't just a piece of literature, but a young girl's actual diary. She begins with describing her friends and her birthday party, just like a normal girl. Reading her thoughts and her plans for the future, realising that she was so much ahead of her time and what great things she could have done always makes me cry. And then there's the realisation that she was only one of thousands.
Elie Wiesel's Night. No matter how its fictional elements may throw us off (Wiesel does is honest about its fictional elements real life), the writing and Wiesel's dehumanity in the book rings true to Wiesel's tormented psyche from the concentration camps.
This, just this from Night by Elie Wiesel:
All I could hear was the violin, and it was as if Juliek’s soul had become his bow. He was playing his life. His whole being was gliding over the strings. His unfulfilled hopes. His charred past, his extinguished future. He played that which he would never play again.
I shall never forget Juliek. How could I forget this concert given before an audience of the dead and dying? Even today, when I hear that particular piece by Beethoven, my eyes close and out of the darkness emerges the pale and melancholy face of my Polish comrade bidding farewell to an audience of dying men.
When Rabbi Eliahu is looking for his son.
Wiesel also wrote a story about him calling out to Tzipora, his younger sister who presumably perished in the gas chambers with the mother. Wiesel recalls watching her play, her calling her big brother to come play with her, and the day she was seperated from him. Wiesel begs to play with Tzipora once more.
Mira Grant's Feed. A zombie-thriller-political-intrigue book can be expected to have dramatic death scenes and long goodbyes after an infection but before zombie-mode, but holy god. George's death, especially after the heavy emphasis on the fact that she and Shawn are all the other has.
Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson. The final line when Lia finally begins to recover:
''I am beginning to thaw."
Tom's Midnight Garden, specifically the last 7 chapters leading up to the denouement.
The Tomorrow Series: Ellie finding out about Corrie's death and the terrible grief she feels when she sees the grave.
Robyn's reaction to Chris's death and Ellie's reaction to the same, and to the senseless manner of said death.
Robyn's death at the end of the 3rd book.
And Ellie's terrible attack of grief over her parents' senseless murders in While I Live, the first book of the sequel series. To have gone through so much hell only to be rewarded in such a way...
David Copperfield has so, so many. Like Mr. Mell being humiliated and kicked out of the Boarding School of Horrors by Steerforth, Clara's Death by Childbirth and how Mrs. Creakle tells David about it, Emily running away with Steerforth and her goodbye letter to Ham in which she begs him to forget her, Spenlow's death and David's Heroic BSOD as he finds out, Dora's own death and her last talk to David, Rosa and Emily's terrible talk in which we see how horribly broken they both are, and David finding the lifeless bodies of both Ham and Steerforth after the storm in Yarmouth.
John Ringo's East of The Sun and West of The Moon, when Herzer has to send one team into a death trap, because he needs the pilot.
"Herzer just sacrificed most of Team Massa"
Even more so, Massa setting out the order people will escape in...not including himself. Not that he realy expects the rest of his team to get out either.
"Who cycles you through sir?"
"Do you really think if we back away from the hatch any of us are going to make it make it to the lock?"
"I have a cat, you know. Back home. [...] She doesn't have a name. She is just Cat. She curls up on my chest whenever I sit down, and goes to sleep. I hope she doesn't miss me. I'm going to miss her."
The Stranger provides us a few, all of which are in part two.
After spending who-knows-how long in jail, Meaursault says that he is still accepting his life as a prisoner. He says he's getting used to it, says it's just part of human nature to accept life whatever it gives you. He then looks into a pan, and tries to smile in the reflection, but simply can't. He moves the pan around, and though he tries so hard to put a smile on, he can't.
Later, while in court, the prosecution uses a worker at the nursing home Meaursault's mother was at in order to make him seem like an unsympathetic monster. Meaursault narrates that for the first time in years, he felt like crying, because he could just feel how much everyone hated him.
A little bit later in the trial, Meaursault's friends go to the stand and testify that he would never do such a thing, at least on purpose. Raymond, for one, feels ashamed when the judge doesn't want to hear from him any more because, no matter what he says, Meaursault still murdered someone. At the end of his testimony, Raymond looks at his friend, not knowing what else to say. And Meaursault narrates that never before has he ever wanted to kiss a man until then.
A Dog of Flanders is about a Flemish boy named Nello and his dog Patrasche. The Tearjerker is the fact that their life keeps getting worse and worse that you want Nello and Patrasche to survive. Theydidn't.
Definitely a Tear Jerker... several adaptations have been made that more or less have remained true to the story, with one or two ending on happier notes.
Now One Foot, Now the Other by Tomie dePaola. It involved a boy and his grandfather. The boy would always pile blocks and make a tower with it, and when the last block, an elephant block falls, they would join in laughter. The grandpa then spends the boy's fifth(?) birthday with him at the amusement park, to get a stroke the day after. The poor little boy can't even speak to his grandpa anymore, and his parents tell him that he won't even remember him... Then the boy makes a tower with his blocks in front of the grandpa, and then theelephant block falls down. Cue the laughter from the grandpa.
Black Elk Speaks, John Neihardt's transcription of Nicholas Black Elk's spoken memoirs, has many such moments — not just the terrible deaths and losses, but several glorious CMOA that are likely to reduce you to a sobbing mess.
Nicki's death in The Vampire Lestat and how sudden it is. And Armandlocking him in a cell and CUTTING OFF HIS HANDS to keep him from playing violin.
In the same book, when Gabrielle and Lestat part ways.
A young adult novel called Before I Fall had me in hysterics at the end. Sam pulls a Heroic Sacrifice to save Juliet, as her best friends and the boy she loves get to watch her die.
The novel Cat in the Window by Derek Tangye, it's a true story of when he and his wife got their first cat, Monty, even though David wasn't a cat fan at the start of the story. It's all about Monty, life and death. A It Was His Sled that when the book is passed down through family/friends everybody knows Monty dies at the end but it won't stop you from reading it all in a day and breaking down.
"For the first time, he heard something that he knew to be music. He heard people singing. Behind him, across vast distances of space and time, from the place he had left, he thought he heard music too. But perhaps it was only an echo."
When Jonas found out was "Release" was? And when you discover why no one says Rosemary's name? And that she was The Giver's daughter? -sobs-
The scene where Jonas asks his parents if they love him, and they point out all the reasons why love is an illogical and useless word.
Vampire Academy gives us the incredibly sad ending to Shadow Kiss, when Rose finds out that Dimitri has been turned into a Strigoi.
Spirit Bound is worse, with Dimitri's line "Love fades. Mine has."
How about in Frostbite Mason's death especially how he ran to help rose and was just killed with no mercy by the strigori and then when rose is just cradeling him and has to be pulled away and when she begs to stay saying that she has to protect him and dimitri tells her she already has.
Tales of the Frog Princess: Once Upon s Curse: When Li'l leaves Handsome Lech Garrid because he lied to her. She was fully justified and Garrid comes across as unsympathetic... until he tells her, "I'd choose you if I could." Then, you realize Garrid has genuinely fallen for her, and is truly sorry for his actions. And then Emma describes how dejected he looked... Ouch.
Snow Flower and the Secret Fan when Lily reads the third day books, and also when Lily realises that she destroyed her best friend's life over a grammatical misreading. Ouch.
Alma Alexander's The Secrets of Jin Shei. When the princess died at the start, but by the end...
Any work of Chaim Potok's makes me want to cry and scream at the characters at the same time:
Reuven, the Nice Guy in The Chosen, loses his best friend (Danny) because of a political difference of opinion between his father's ideology and Danny's father's beliefs — he spends a significant amount of time being alone, after a long period of being Danny's sole support, and this period leaves its mark on him. He spends the sequel, The Promise, as an emotional punching bag for a seriously troubled young boy, while Danny takes notes in a detached manner and ends up marrying the girl Reuven was seeing at the start of the book.
The real doozy though, is Asher in My Name Is Asher Lev / The Gift of Asher Lev. In the first book, he is neglected, mocked and bullied for his "unholy" talent for art. The Rebbe, the leader of the community, is an odd character who simultaneously helps Asher while making his life as difficult as possible. By the end of the novel, after creating a particularly inflammatory painting, Asher is exiled from his community. He makes a new life for himself in France, marries a woman that he loves, and has two children that he adores. Then he goes back to his parent's home. Expect to alternate between tears of rage and sorrow as you see Asher's parents slowly manipulate his wife and children away from Asher — Asher realises it's happening, and wants to get back to France quickly to prevent it. However, his mother's guilt trips of "I want to see my grandchildren, how can you deny me the right to see them and my daughter-in-law?"/"Why not stay a little longer, you owe us that much after the pain and shame you brought on us", coupled with his wife's desire for a family and a community that she was denied (having lost her own in the Holocaust), sees him staying even as his hard-fought for familial bliss is dragged away from him. The final insult is when the aging Rebbe decides he wants Asher's father to be his successor...and in order to create a stable dynasty, he needs Asher's son as well. The book ends as Asher leaves for France alone, his wife deciding to stay with her in-laws with the children, his son oblivious to what's happened and only Asher's daughter, Rocheleh, showing any understanding of her father at all. It's implied that he will not live with his own family again for at least a year. The only "compensation" is that the repeated emotional abuse fuels his art. And the kicker is, Asher honestly believes that he is an unholy person who deserves everything he gets, especially due to Muse Abuse. Commence howling.
Dombey and Son, by Charles Dickens, has so many of these. If it's not Fanny's death by childbirth as she holds a very young Florence, it's Paul's death and his accompanying descriptions of it.
Paul: Mama is like you, Floy. I know her by the face! But tell them that the print upon the stairs at school is not divine enough. The light about the head is shining on me as I go!
In Knit the Season, flashbacks show bits of Georgia's life through her perspective before her death. One of them shows her lying on the floor with her tweenage daughter Dakota, who is sad that Christmas has to end. If it wasn't enough of a Crowning Momentof Heartwarming with Georgia fully appreciating her growing daughter's cuddling with her though she will soon be too old to want to, and her telling Dakota that "now our perfect Christmas never has to end", it becomes full-on Tearjerker when you know from the first book in the series that Georgia will contract and die of cancer within months of that time, so that Christmas will actually be her last one.
This poem, Insomnia, by Elizabeth Bishop:
The moon in the bureau mirror looks out a million miles (and perhaps with pride, at herself, but she never, never smiles) far and away beyond sleep, or perhaps she's a daytime sleeper.
By the Universe deserted, she'd tell it to go to hell, and she'd find a body of water, or a mirror, on which to dwell. So wrap up care in a cobweb and drop it down the well
into that world inverted where left is always right, where the shadows are really the body, where we stay awake all night, where the heavens are shallow as the sea is now deep, and you love me.
The part in Needful Things when Sheriff Pangborn visits Sean Rusk in the hospital after he is admitted due to a breakdown he suffers from after seeing his older brother Brian commit suicide. Like most Stephen King novels, there's usually at least one or two moments of heart-wrenching sadness, and this fits the bill nicely.
The opening of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime always gets me, as well as other parts of the story.
Magpie Island by Colin Thiele always makes me tear up if not cry openly. If you don't know what I'm talking about it's a short book, read it.
The Thief Lord, the moment Prosper realizes that Bo has been kidnapped.
Octavia Butler's Kindred. When Rufus wavers between good and being a complete bastard, when Kevin gets left behind in the past and she sees him again, when Alice kills herself...
In Julia's Kitchen, by Brenda A/ Ferber, Cara's sister has just died. Both always used to want to sit in a certain chair. "But now as I curled up in the chair, it seemed so big. Big enough to share."
Taggle's death in Plain Kate was heart rending. over a CAT! yes, a talking cat, but still. although the circumstances no doubt didn't help... Plain Kate's only friend, the one who was their for her after her father died and after she was driven from not one but two homes, is also the only thing keeping her deal with the devil going- if Taggle looses his ability to think like a human, Plain Kate will get her shadow back, and with it, the power that fuels the monster killing innocent cityfolk. Taggle insists she kill him, but she tries to find another way. finally, she manages to defeat the man who took her shadow, but it's not enough. and Taggle tels her to kill him... and she just holds out her knife... and he leaps amd it's just so damn sad! and we just keep hoping for magic, for him to come back... somehow.
the author let's us get all the way to the freaking funeral before letting him get better. but he does. cue even more tears.
Hand of Isis, by Jo Graham. The second half loves punching you in the gut, from Isis revealing that Antonious's death in Parthia would have given them a decade to the tomb scene Dion's arrival and news of Ceasarion's death and Cleopatra just "shattering". Made worse by the fact that Cleopatra, Iras, and Charmain all consider themselves mother to Cleopatra's children, are frightened only for the children's safety. Cleopatra calling Charmain the bravest for watching her sister's die, their deaths and the stories they tell as Cleopatra dies, preparing her body, and Agrippa finding Charmain. It makes the whole scene work, especially given Arsinoe's fate earlier in the book and the fact that the sisters know it will happen to them. Topping it all off is that Charmain is so broken throughout the Amenti scenes that she refuses to believe that she- didn't fail and begs to be punished. And then Isis Invictus... poor Agrippa. He wants so badly to make amends, and No one really blames him as much as he does, not even Charmain/Lucia.
In This House of Brede, by Rumer Godden. When Dame Philippa describes the tragic death of her young son, Keith.
Pilgrimage: The Book of the People, by Zenna Henderson. Esther's horrific racial memory in "Pottage", explaining why she and everyone in Bendo "keep their feet on the ground."
And "Angels Unawares" in the collection No Different Flesh, where the miserable Graftonite convert Caleb Derwent confesses his mortal sin: He saved a little girl's life.
"We caught them. They were sleeping. They fluttered up like birds. I caught that little girl you've got there, only her hair was long then. We tied them up. I didn't want to!... I didn't put any knots in my rope and after the roof caved in, the little girl flew out all on fire and hid in the dark! I didn't know the Graftonites were like that! I only came last year. They—they tell you exactly what to do to be saved. You don't have to think or worry or wonder... Now all my life I'll see the shed burning."
I Know This Much Is True. Dominick has spent most of the last section of the novel simply trying to see his hospitalized schizophrenic twin. The moment when he walks into the visiting room is a huge moment of triumph for him. His brother Thomas comes out and they begin talking. Thomas begins to ramble off nonsense, not really aware of the situation they are in. Dominick disobeys the no-touching rule to hug Thomas - who is all the while still babbling paranoid gibberish. The true desperation of Thomas's insanity sets in.
"The Guy with the Eyes" from Spider Robinson's Callahans Crosstime Saloon has the saddest line ever, considering the line that comes before it: "See, I used to have a wife and daughter before I decided to install my own brakes. I saved thirty dollars, easy..." The power of context.
Dorothy Koomson's "Goodnight, Beautiful" is absolutely full of them, right until the final page. Just in case the doomed love story doesn't get you, or you outlast Nova's farewell to her dying eight year old son, the book ends with said farewell being repeated...from Leo's point of view. Hearing his mom's voice and feeling no fear, he echoes her "goodnight, beautiful", with "goodnight, mum" and walks away into the light. Tissues, please.
The Passage, by Justin Cronin. There are plenty of Tearjerker moments, but the story of Dr Jonas Lear is especially sad. A man, a scientist, who travelled the world trying to find a way to 'cure' death, to prevent the loss he suffered when his wife died. He doesn't even seem to consider that his own life has value, believing he has nothing to live for if he can't unravel the mystery of death. And then this man, this gentle determined man...ends the world. He becomes responsible for the deaths of millions, completely by accident. He only wanted to help, and by the end he's known as 'the saddest man in the world'. There's also Sara and Michael Fisher, who had to grow up alone after their parents hung themselves. And Olsen Hand, a Wasteland Elder who feels the burden of having to sacrifice people to Babcock so that the others may be spared, and when he tries to fix things, his daughter is killed. He ends up just wandering into the distance, toward his certain death.
The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein. Especially the end when Enzo dies, then is reincarnated as a human after and comes to say hi to Denny.
Cleveland Amory's Animail quoted a portion of an Albert Payson Terhune story called "The Christmas Pup." After the titular puppy nipped a child who'd just pulled its tail, the father hit and kicked it and then threw it out into the yard—or worse. ("Next morning the ashman poked curiously at a rumpled and moveless little bundle of soft brown fur on top of the garbage can.")
Written in 1900 by Spiritualist social worker and animal rights activist Elizabeth Stuart Phelps, the story of Loveliness should have a warning on it for people who are moved to tears by the Humane Society promos on TV. This tale will leave you hugging your own animal friends in a veritable sobbing mess.
Miriam Allen deFord's story "A Death in the Family" managed to combine tearjerking with a touch of horror, being about a mortician who dealt with his lifelong loneliness by constructing a "fake family" from the embalmed bodies of people who bore a sufficient resemblance to him. When his "family" was in danger of discovery thanks to his decision to use the abandoned body of a kidnap victim as his "daughter", he destroyed it by turning on the gas chandelier in the basement room where he kept the bodies, then lighting a match.
"They are all dead. Everybody is dead. Tanya is left alone." This is the last entry of Tanya Savicheva, a 10 year old girl who lived with her family during the siege of Leningrad. With supply lines cut, food shortage became more and more deadly, her entire family died one by one, leaving only Tanya behind. Tanya is then rescued from Leningrad and adopted by another family, only to die of a a heart disease two years later.
Yurij Jakovlev (a Russian writer) has book called Passion of the Four Girls which is about his musings on the fate of four girls who died young: Anne Frank (who kept a diary during WWII, see above), Tanya Savicheva (who lived in Leningrad during the siege, also see above), Sadako Sasaki ("Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes") and Samatha Smith (who has taken up contact with Gorbachev and died in a plane crash shortly thereafter). The book is especially sad when it starts to intermingle their stories (especially the first three), making a picture of endless suffering that was WW2.
The Commander's Daughter, Another story by Y. Jakovlev, deals with the siege of the Brest Fortress in 1941, as seen by the titular heroine, a 14-years-old girl called Valya. The first Tearjerker comes at the beginning:
Valya: "Sometimes I believe that the bullet that killed my father also got lodged in my heart..."
Then later we see her male friends, Dima and Vitja, killed during battle
And in the end, when Valya together with the soldiers , sings a song about those who diesd in battle, while preparing for an enemy assault they know they cannot repel...
Laura und der Silberwolf (Laura and the Siver Wolf) by A. Michaelis. The last chapter is named "Chapter 15, in which adults may need a handckerchief...", and boy does the name fit - Laura decides to stay in Ice-Land forever, effectively dying in the real world...
Love You Forever by Robert Munsch. It recounts a young boy being taken care of by his mother, and eventually his mother is taken care of by him.
The Secret Life of Bees. The part where the tender, sweet Broken Bird May kills herself by going out in the river and putting a rock on her chest and drowns herself. Then there's this one scene where it looks like she's going to LIVE, and then it was just their imagination. More tears...
If you're German, you`ve probably read the short story "Nachts schlafen die Ratten doch" ("But the Rats Are Sleeping at Night") by Wolfgang Borchert in class. The story is about a boy, who lost his younger brother during a bombing in World War 2. He is keeping guard at the place his brother was buried under the debris and refuses to leave, because he wants to protect his brother`s body from being eaten by rats. The story ends in a Hope Spot, as a man manages to persuade the boy to leave the place at sun set and helps him to come to terms with his grief, but before it, you have to get through two pages of relentless post-war depression. It gets worse when you realize that, even though it was a fictional story, it is extremely realistic and a similar incident could have happened in one of the big cities in WW2.
In "The Monkey's Paw", by W. W. Jacobs, Mr. White wishes for two hundred pounds. The next day he gets his wish at the cost of his son Herbert dying in machinery, and an employee of the Maw and Meggins workplace informing them about their devastating loss. On the night after the funeral, Mrs. White, so distraught about the loss of her only son demands her husband to make a second wish to bring her son back to life. He reluctantly does so, only to use his last wish to send him back to death because he realized with horror that the person at his door wasn't his son anymore. He then goes to comfort his disappointed and sobbing wife after she tried to open the door for her son.
Most of Uprising by Mageret Haddix. It's about the Triangle Shirtwaist factory. Bella finding out that her whole family back in Italy has died is one, but the terrible tearjerker comes in the end, when two of the three main characters die, one while praying with other workers for the elevator to return, knowing that it won't, being embraced by an old woman- and thinking this is how it feels to be hugged by a mother. The other jumps from the 8th floor with the boy who has had a crush on her for months. "It does not take long to fall 8 storeys, but it took her the rest of her life" Both of these girls had previously had a falling out with family, and in their last moments realize that they will never set things right.
Sharon Creech's The Wanderer has several:
First there is a moment where Sophie, (who was actually excited at the storm previously), writes an entry which ends with "but help won't come. We are all alone here". It really makes the danger and the weariness of the crew known.
Then there is the chapter "Bompie and his father", which puts a Cerebus Retcon on all previous Bompie stories.
And finally, there is Sophie's story at the end: "The parents...The parents weren't there." Sniff.
Neil Hilborn's spoken-word poetry "OCD" ends with the most heartbreaking note for someone who can't move on without his rituals.
"I leave the door unlocked."
In Sean Stewart's Resurrection Man, the conversation where Dante tells his father he's going to die. And several chapters after that, too.
The Rifter: Kyle/Kahlil talking about his memories of the life of Ravishan, his self in the alternate history where, as a teenager, he met John and had his life changed for the better, before dying heroically. Kahlil talks about Ravishan as if they were two different people and says that he doesn’t deserve to remember, let alone experience, any of Ravishan’s happiness because where Ravishan was a lover and a hero, Kahlil is nothing but an assassin. However, much later John is able to persuade Kahlil that not only are the two of them really the same person, but he was admirable and worthy of love in both timelines.
In Wonder 2012the Team Pet Daisy dies of stomach cancer. It's not so much her death that matters, since We Hardly Knew Ye, but the trauma August's family has to go through because of this.