Emotions: This Book Will Make You Feel Every Last One (by Anna Quindlen)

March 18, 2013 Family, Psychological, Tear Jerkers 48

Hey Bookworms,

It’s Monday, so let’s wallow in our collective case of the Mondays, shall we? I’ve got the perfect book to put you in the appropriate mood. Every Last One by Anna Quindlen will make you feel ALL THE FEELINGS.

Mary Beth Latham is a landscape designer and mother of three. She and her husband live an upper middle class life in an upper middle class suburb and have upper middle class problems. Their beautiful teenage daughter Ruby had a bout with an eating disorder, but seems to be recovering well. Though Mary Beth worries about Ruby leaving for college in a year, she’s proud of her remarkable girl. The twin boys pose a bit of a challenge, but they’re at an age when you’d expect them to be complicated. Alex is a soccer star and popular in school. His fraternal twin brother Max, on the other hand, is withdrawn and depressed. But, you know. What’s a little teen angst between twins? Nothing a little cognitive behavioral therapy and/or medication can’t help with. After their experience with Ruby, the Lathams take Max’s suffering seriously.


To add to this little dramatic suburban slurry, Ruby has recently dumped her boyfriend Kiernan, which has been tough on the whole family. He’s been a fixture in their lives since he was a small child. Kiernan’s family makes the Lathams look like the Waltons, so he was extraordinary attached their “happy” family. Kiernan is heartbroken. Ruby feels guilty. Everyone is hurting. It’s a recipe for a highly rated TV drama, don’t you think?


And then… Tragedy strikes. Serious horrible nightmarish tragedy. Your heart will break. You will cry. A lot, probably. I did. Telling you what happens would ruin the book for you, and I gave up massive spoilers for Lent. I will tell you that I didn’t see it coming, and that it hit me like a punch in the gut.

This is going to sound a little masochistic, but the way this book bites into the reader… It’s a good pain. Even if it scars your psyche, a book that can make you FEEL this much is worth the read. It reminds you of how trivial every day annoyances in life can seem when you’re confronted with true unimaginable horror. I definitely recommend this book, but with the caveat that it WILL be a difficult read, emotionally. If you’re in a vulnerable place, it might be a good idea to pass on this one. At least for the time being.


In solidarity, let us all lament this Monday with our own tales of traumatic reads. What are some of your favorites, bookworms?

48 Responses to “Emotions: This Book Will Make You Feel Every Last One (by Anna Quindlen)”

  1. Charleen

    The most recent one to do this to me was The Green Mile. I’d never seen the movie, knew only the vaguest hints of the story. Still, there weren’t really any huge shocking moments that I wasn’t ready for, I just wasn’t ready for IT. Like, all of it. The most shocking part of this book was how, even though I knew how most things were going to go, it just HIT me, you know?

  2. Megan M.

    Aside from The Fault in Our Stars (duh) parts of Harry Potter were just gut-wrenching to me.

    • Words for Worms

      Oh yeah, The Fault In Our Stars was just… Painful. I can totally see the HP moments too! Why must the good books try to break me into pieces?! Why?

  3. April

    I cannot read a tear jerker right now because I am still mourning Shanghai Sisters. That book was so full of sadness, tragedy and hopeless situations… in fact, I am not sure there was one happy moment after the first chapter. Every time I look at the book on my bookshelf my heart breaks all over again.

    • Words for Worms

      Shanghai Girls by Lisa See? That was soooo sad! But! There’s a sequel I can’t quite bring myself to read- Dreams of Joy. I mean, there’s Joy in the title, maybe it redeems itself somehow? I hope? Because those sisters deserve happiness!

      • April

        NO WAY!! Dreams of Joy? Katie… Joy could only have horrible dreams… a mate’s head blown off… her mother… well um… her husband… well um… her baby daughter sister drama… heart breaking… must stop now…

  4. Rhian

    There’s probably been tons (I’ve been reading a loooong time!) but one I definitely remember was the end of The Dark Tower series by Stephen King. For context, the series was a long time in the writing (and therefore reading) so I had quite an attachment to it. Plus I was experiencing that anticipation/loss one feels when you reach the end of a much-loved series.

    I won’t say what the ending is, other than to say I found it utterly heartbreaking. Mr King *warns* you about continuing to read on past a certain point, but you just cannot imagine what could come next that could possibly be that devastating. And then you read it. I’m tearing up a little recounting it.

    I suspect I will never forget how I felt that day.

    • Words for Worms

      I don’t know if I could invest in The Dark Tower series. I’m sure it’s fantastic, but the length of it is a little daunting. Why does Stephen King want to put us all in therapy?! He either breaks our hearts into tiny pieces or scares us so badly we have residual damage. Oh that brilliant wordsmith! He’s out to get us all!

  5. therelentlessreader

    I don’t know what it says about me but I adore books that tear me apart like that. Whyyyy? Maybe it’s the catharsis? Maybe I’m just a sick woman. I don’t know. I’ll be putting this one on my list. The last book that made me boo hoo hoo was Me Before You. Tears were a’rollin down my cheeks.

    • Words for Worms

      Oh I definitely think there’s a catharsis involved, because some of the rip-your-heart-out-through-your-nose titles I’ve read are among my favorite books. I’ll be interested to hear what you think of this one! 🙂

  6. Liesel Hill

    Yeah…I’ll totally read this based on your review. I’m kind of all about the tragedy–not because I’m a masochist, but because I think it’s the only way people (characters) truly grow and change, and reading about it makes us more compassionate and human, so I’m with you in the ‘scarred-psyche-in-a-good-way.’ I’ll TBR it. Thanks for the review! 😀

  7. Ashley F

    Marley and Me ripped my guts out and stomped all over them. Even the movie was horrible. I spent like a half an hour just clutching Jasper and crying all over him.

    Another gut wrenching one was My Sister’s Keeper.

    • Words for Worms

      Oh My Sister’s Keeper. I was a mess. I was SO MAD at the movie for changing the ending. Not that I actually watched the movie. Someone told me about the ending and I boycotted. I’m mature like that.

  8. ashley

    The Fault in Our Stars still gets me even just thinking about it. Ill definitely add this one to the list!

    • Words for Worms

      🙂 Thanks! I’m actually trying to work on my tendency to be a spoiler-monger as a general self improvement thing, but you know. Lent being what it is, I figured it would help with my resolve.

  9. CorrieP

    Love tear jerkers! The Lovely Bones was bad but by far the worst for me is Between Sisters by Kristin Hannah still cry every single time. Thanks for the review…definitely have to add this one to the list!

    • Words for Worms

      The Lovely Bones was pretty bad, but I was comforted knowing she was okay in the afterlife, you know? I haven’t read Between Sisters, but Kristin Hannah’s Winter Garden had me bawling.

  10. CorrieP

    Agreed, reading it now and can hardly put it down (dang responsibilities). Also the end of HP and the Half-Blood Prince is the worst book ending I’ve ever read. Period. Seriously…JK is a sadist (and a genius)!

  11. Melissa

    Sarah’s Key hands down. It didn’t help that I have kids near the age of the kids in the book and in my head I couldn’t keep the characters from becoming my children. I sobbed so hard that my husband came to check on me and said I should stop reading it if it made me feel so bad. I think reading about sad things puts your own problems in perspective and also shows the power of the human spirit. I’m a big fan of WWII historical fiction for this same reason. Plus I think it’s a sign of a well written book if it can make you feel so deeply.

    • Ashley F

      OMG I forgot about that book. I haven’t read it since I was young. OMG I’m crying just thinking about it. Crap. I need to go cuddle my cat again.

  12. Michelle

    This is my 1ST time to your blog and I am loving it. I will go buy this book! Thank you and I will go buy Me before you as well!

  13. Michelle

    I have just borrowed this book and I will go read it soon! By the way, I have recommended your blog to my other book-loving friends.
    Have a good weekend!

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