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Recommended Reading for Teen Tearjerkers

Th1rteen R3asons Why by James Asher
When high school student Clay Jenkins receives a box in the mail containing 13 cassette tapes recorded by his classmate Hannah, who committed suicide, he spends a heartbreaking night crisscrossing their town, listening to Hannah’s voice recounting the events leading up to her death.

Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes by Chris Crutcher
Sarah Byrnes, her face and hands badly burned in a mysterious accident at age three, and Eric Calhoune, a swimmer who’s been overweight for years, are inseperable through childhood.  When the truth of Sarah’s horrific past finally catches up with her, Eric must help her find a way through the pain.

Sex Education: a Novel by Jenny Davis
Livvie and her boyfriend David become deeply involved in caring for a pregnant young neighbor as part of a project in their sex education class.  They learn about the pain and courage that sometimes comes along with love and caring.

Say Goodnight, Gracie by Julie Reece Deaver
When a car accident kills her best friend Jimmy, with whom she has shared everything from childhood escapades to breaking into the professional theater scene in Chicago, 17-year-old Morgan must find her own way of coping with his death.

3 NBs of Julian Drew by James M. Deem
Julian Drew begins writing in his first NB (notebook) in code as a way of dealing with the painful life he is subjected to by his stepmother and father.  Follow his cryptic journal entries as he tries to break the puzzle of his life.

Dreamland by Sarah Dessen
After her older sister runs away, 16-year-old Caitlin decides that she needs to make a major change in her own life and begins an abusive relationship with mysterious and dangerous Rogerson.

Before I Die by Jenny Dwonham
A terminally ill teenaged girl makes and carries out a list of thing to do before she dies.  WARNING – This is a two tissue box book!

After the Death of Anna Gonzales by Terri Fields
Anna Gonzales has committed suicide.  Forty-seven classmates and teachers that are left behind tell their stories all in poetry.

Second Star to the Right by Deborah Hautzig
As Leslie begins to shed the weight she feels makes her imperfect, she finds it increasingly difficult to reach out for the psychological help she knows she needs.

A Time for Dancing by Davida Wills Hurwin
Best friends Samantha and Juliana are about to begin senior year together, where they will have to make decisions for their future – college? professional dance careers?  Neither is prepared for their future to include cancer.

Cut by Patricia McCormick
While confined to the Sea Pines mental hospital, which the “guests” call “Sick Minds,” 15-year-old Callie won’t speak to anybody.  Gradually she opens up to the group and her therapist, confronting the reasons behind her destructive self-mutilation.

Sold by Patricia McCormick
13-year-old Lakshmi, though poor, enjoys her life in Nepal until she is sold to a brothel in India by her stepfather.

Lurlene McDaniel
Any title by this author is sure to have you weeping as they all deal with a devastating illness or death.

Cold Hands, Warm Heart by Jill Wolfson
After 16-year-old Tyler convinces his parents to donate the organs of his sister, he writes letters to the recipients, including Dani, who finally has a chance at normalcy after living 15 years with a heart defect.

If You Come Softly by Jacqueline Woodson
Jeremiah feels out of place after transferring to a new private school where he is one of the few African Americans, until he meets Ellie.  Ellie, who is Jewish, and Jeremiah know they fit together even if the people around them are uncomfortable with their relationship.  They will learn to experience love in a not-so-perfect world.   *Also check out the sequel, Behind You.