Sometimes there’s really nothing better than a good ol’ fashioned sobfest. And by good, we mean a soul-crushing, devastatingly heartbreaking story that maybe has a glimmer of hope at the end, but either way it’s all worth it! These books should most definitely not be read in public unless you’re okay with drying your tears on a stranger’s shoulder because, spoiler alert, you will be crying—A LOT. So here are the novels that will break your heart, and maybe even put it back together again.
Please note that these novels are a tad bit worse than those that will just make you cry, because these are ones that will literally shatter your heart into pieces. Enjoy!
10 Heartbreaking Books That Will Ruin You—In the Best Possible Way
1. Here So Far Away by Hadley Dyer
The book may be called Here So Far Away, but you’ll want to keep your tissues close at hand in for this love story where one girl begins a romance with an older guy who’s new to her small town and learns that the bigger the secret, the harder you fall…
Feisty and fearless George Warren (given name: Frances, but no one calls her that) has never let life get too serious. Now that she’s about to be a senior, her plans include partying with her tight-knit group of friends and then getting the heck out of town after graduation.
But instead of owning her last year of high school, a fight with her best friend puts her on the outs. And George’s family has been facing hard times since her father got injured and might not be able to return to work. So when George meets Francis, an older guy who shares her name and her affinity for sarcastic banter, she’s thrown. If she lets herself, she’ll fall recklessly, hopelessly in love. But because of Francis’s age, she tells no one—and ends up losing almost everything.
2. Far From the Tree by Robin Benway
If you’ve ever sobbed your way through an episode of This Is Us (and you really must be a robot if you haven’t), then prepare yourself for this incredibly moving story of three adopted siblings trying to discover what it means to be family.
Being the middle child has its ups and downs.
But for Grace, an only child who was adopted at birth, discovering that she is a middle child is a different ride altogether. After putting her own baby up for adoption, she goes looking for her biological family, including—
Maya, her loudmouthed younger bio sister, who has a lot to say about their newfound family ties. When her adopted family’s long-buried problems begin to explode to the surface, Maya can’t help but wonder where exactly it is that she belongs.
And Joaquin, their stoic older bio brother, who has no interest in bonding over their shared biological mother. After seventeen years in the foster care system, he’s learned that secrets and fears are best kept close to the vest.
3. History Is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera
If you’ve ever read a single book by Adam Silvera (maybe THEY BOTH DIE AT THE END?), then we really don’t have to explain this one but if not then OMG get ready to have your heart ripped out.
When Griffin’s first love and ex-boyfriend, Theo, dies in a drowning accident, his universe implodes. Even though Theo had moved to California for college and started seeing Jackson, Griffin never doubted Theo would come back to him when the time was right. But now, the future he’s been imagining for himself has gone far off course.
To make things worse, the only person who truly understands his heartache is Jackson. But no matter how much they open up to each other, Griffin’s downward spiral continues. He’s losing himself in his obsessive compulsions and destructive choices, and the secrets he’s been keeping are tearing him apart.
4. Calling My Name by Liara Tamani
Just lyrical writing alone is enough to quietly break your heart, but the journey the Taja goes on to find love, and herself, while growing up in a conservative family is a story that so many of us can relate to.
This unforgettable novel tells a universal coming-of-age story about Taja Brown, a young African American girl growing up in Houston, Texas, and it deftly and beautifully explores the universal struggles of growing up, battling family expectations, discovering a sense of self, and finding a unique voice and purpose.
Told in fifty-three short, episodic, moving, and iridescent chapters, Calling My Name follows Taja on her journey from middle school to high school. Literary and noteworthy, this is a beauty of a novel that deftly captures the multifaceted struggle of finding where you belong and why you matter.
5. Release by Patrick Ness
This book takes place over the course of just one day but packs a seriously emotional punch and your heart will ache for Adam as contends with lingering feelings for his ex-boyfriend, harassment at work, and the conservative beliefs of his religious family.
Adam Thorn doesn’t know it yet, but today will change his life.
Between his religious family, a deeply unpleasant ultimatum from his boss, and his own unrequited love for his sort-of ex, Enzo, it seems as though Adam’s life is falling apart. At least he has two people to keep him sane: his new boyfriend (he does love Linus, doesn’t he?) and his best friend, Angela.
But all day long, old memories and new heartaches come crashing together, throwing Adam’s life into chaos. The bindings of his world are coming untied one by one; yet in spite of everything he has to let go, he may also find freedom in the release.
6. All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven
This beautiful love story—about how love just sometimes isn’t enough—is one we might not ever recover from.
Theodore Finch is fascinated by death, and he constantly thinks of ways he might kill himself. But each time, something good, no matter how small, stops him.
Violet Markey lives for the future, counting the days until graduation, when she can escape her Indiana town and her aching grief in the wake of her sister’s recent death.
When Finch and Violet meet on the ledge of the bell tower at school, it’s unclear who saves whom. And when they pair up on a project to discover the “natural wonders” of their state, both Finch and Violet make more important discoveries: It’s only with Violet that Finch can be himself—a weird, funny, live-out-loud guy who’s not such a freak after all. And it’s only with Finch that Violet can forget to count away the days and start living them. But as Violet’s world grows, Finch’s begins to shrink.
7. The Dangerous Art of Blending In by Angelo Surmelis
There’s quite a bit of heartbreak sprinkled into this novel about a boy trying to find the courage to come out while living in an abusive household.
Seventeen-year-old Evan Pano doesn’t know where he fits in.
His strict immigrant Greek mother refuses to see him as anything but a disappointment. His quiet, workaholic father is a staunch believer in avoiding any kind of conflict. And his best friend, Henry, has somehow become distractingly attractive over the summer.
Tired, isolated, scared—Evan finds that his only escape is to draw in an abandoned monastery that feels as lonely as he is. And yes, he kissed one guy over the summer. But it’s Henry who’s now proving to be irresistible. Henry, who suddenly seems interested in being more than friends. And it’s Henry who makes him believe that he deserves more than his mother’s harsh words and terrifying abuse. But as things with Henry heat up, and his mother’s abuse escalates, Evan has to decide how to find his voice in a world where he has survived so long by being silent.
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8. Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira
The letters just keep getting more and more soul-crushing in this story of a sister trying to overcome her grief. If your heart hasn’t cracked by the first few, don’t worry. The end will probably demolish you.
It begins as an assignment for English class: Write a letter to a dead person. Laurel chooses Kurt Cobain because her sister, May, loved him. And he died young, just like May did. Soon, Laurel has a notebook full of letters to people like Janis Joplin, Amy Winehouse, Amelia Earhart, Heath Ledger, and more—though she never gives a single one of them to her teacher.
She writes about starting high school, navigating new friendships, falling in love for the first time, learning to live with her splintering family. And, finally, about the abuse she suffered while May was supposed to be looking out for her.
Only then, once Laurel has written down the truth about what happened to herself, can she truly begin to accept what happened to May.
9. A World Without You by Beth Revis
Beth Revis is a master at tugging at emotions, and this heartrending novel is one you won’t soon forget!
Seventeen-year-old Bo has always had delusions that he can travel through time. So when his worried parents send him to a school for troubled youth, Bo assumes he knows the truth: that he’s actually attending Berkshire Academy, a school for kids who, like Bo, have “superpowers.”
At Berkshire, Bo falls in love with Sofía, a quiet girl with a tragic past and the superpower of invisibility. Sofía helps Bo open up in a way he never has before. But even the strength of their love isn’t enough to help Sofía escape her deep depression. After she commits suicide, Bo is convinced that she’s not actually dead. He believes that she’s stuck somewhere in time—that he somehow left her in the past, and that now it’s his job to save her.
10. Madness by Zac Brewer
This final heartbreaking book delivers the powerful and important message that sometimes the only person who can save you is you.
Brooke Danvers is pretending to be fine. She’s gotten so good at pretending that they’re letting her leave inpatient therapy. Now she just has to fake it long enough for her parents and teachers to let their guard down. This time, when she’s ready to end her life, there won’t be anyone around to stop her.
Then Brooke meets Derek. Derek is the only person who really gets what Brooke is going through, because he’s going through it too. As they start spending more time together, Brooke suddenly finds herself having something to look forward to every day.
But when Derek’s feelings for her intensify, Brooke is forced to accept that the same relationship that is bringing out the best in her might be bringing out the worst in Derek—and that Derek at his worst could be capable of real darkness.
What’s the most heartbreaking book you’ve read? Let us know below!!