Do you love a good tearjerker? There’s something so emotionally satisfying and cathartic about reading an emotional book that gets the tears going–and they don’t necessarily have to be sad books, either! The following are a nice mix of sad books for teens, sad romance books that make you cry, and heart-wrenching novels full of big emotions that will make you feel all the feels, and yes, probably give your tear ducts a workout!
The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han
This heart wrenching trilogy is about Belly, a teen girl who spends every summer at her mom’s best friend’s summer house. This year, she finds herself pulled romantically between two brothers, but before she can decide who is the right one for her, tragedy strikes that will change all of their lives forever.
Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas
When Yadriel, a trans boy, becomes determined to prove himself as a brujo to his conservative family, he inadvertently summons a ghost that won’t leave until Yadriel helps him resolve the issues he left behind in life. And doing so will challenge Yadriel in unexpected and heartrending ways.
The Heart Principle by Helen Hoang
Anna Sun is struggling with burnout when her boyfriend delivers a shocking blow: he wants an open relationship. Angry, she agrees and soon finds herself embarking on and failing at this open relationship thing when she meets Quan. Quan is amazing and accepts her in a way no one ever has, and she can’t stop seeing him. But then a family tragedy rocks Anna’s world, and leads her to wonder what she really wants out of life.
The Guncle by Steven Rowley
Gay Uncle Patrick loves being uncle to his niece and nephew, Maisie and Grant. But when their mom dies unexpectedly and Patrick’s brother finds himself facing his own health crisis that leaves him unable to care for his kids, Patrick takes in the kids and finds that there’s a big difference between being the fun Guncle and being the guardian these kids need.
Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta
Taylor was abandoned by her mom when she was just a kid, and now she’s a student at a boarding school that faces a tough turf war each year. Taylor is named the leader of the students as they wage war against the townies and the cadets who arrive from Sydney each year, and this year one of the cadet leaders is the boy who betrayed her a few years earlier. As they try to come to a truce, Taylor’s guardian goes missing and she finally discovers clues to her mother’s whereabouts and tragic history.
Honey Girl by Morgan Rogers
Grace Porter is a recent PhD grad who is uncertain about her future, and things get complicated when she goes to Vegas and accidentally marries a strange woman. Instead of figuring out her life, she abandons all responsibility to move to Brooklyn for the summer and get to know her new wife. But romance and adventure can’t distract Grace from her problems and her issues, and she’s forced to face her painful past once and for all.
Beach Read by Emily Henry
January, a romance novelist, is reeling from the death of her dad and a horrible betrayal that she discovered after his death when she arrives at his secret Lake Michigan house for the summer. She’s got a summer to write a book and pack up the house in order to sell it, and she’s horrified to find that her neighbor for the summer is Gus, her college nemesis. As the two challenge each other to swap genres for the summer, January must confront her pain.
The House in the Cerulean Sea by T.J. Klune
Linus is a case worker for the Department in Charge of Magical Youth, and he’s very good at his job. But he’s thrown for a loop when he’s given a special assignment to inspect an unusual orphanage and observe its caretaker, Arthur, for a month. The kids there are suspicious of him, and they’re harboring a giant secret. But as Linus spends more time with them and comes to care for them all, especially Arthur, Linus will find that doing the right thing and following the rules aren’t always the same when it comes to these kids.
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz
In this award-winner, Aristotle is angry at the world and struggling to make sense of the injustices and the wrongs he sees. Dante is calm and quick to smile with a unique perspective on the world. Their friendship is instantaneous but soon they find that maybe they could be something more, if only they’re brave enough to take that step.
The Half-Orphan’s Handbook by Joan F. Smith
Lila lost her father to suicide, and as a result her coping mechanism is to not love or trust anyone new. But when she’s sent to a grief camp for teens who’ve lost an immediate family member, she’s forced to confront her grief head on…and soon learns that there’s more to her father’s death than she knows.
If You Could Be Mine by Sara Farizan
Sahar has been in love with her best friend Nasrin for years, but they live in Iran where being queer is illegal. However, when Nasrin’s parents announce her engagement, Sahar becomes desperate. It may be illegal to be queer, but it’s not illegal to be transgender. If Sahar transitions, she could be with her love…but does she have the courage to make such a drastic change when she’s not trans, in order to be with the girl she loves?
Early Departures by Justin A. Reynolds
Jamal’s best friend Q is dead, but when a new technology allows him to come back for just a few weeks (but without knowing about his impending death), Jamal is determined to bring him back in order to make up for all of his mistakes. But with only a few weeks, can Jamal really make things right between them without telling him the whole truth?
Thirteen Doorways, Wolves Behind Them All by Laura Ruby
Frankie and her sister weren’t supposed to be at the orphanage for long–their father was supposed to come back for them. But when he heads out west with a new woman and no intentions of collecting them, Frankie must find the strength within her to build a life for herself and her sister and not lose hope.
We Are Okay by Nina LaCour
Marin lost her grandfather at the end of senior year and, unable to face her grief, left for college without saying goodbye to anyone. Now it’s the holiday break and her best friend Mabel is coming to visit. Marin both can’t wait and is dreading facing her best friend, knowing that doing so will force her to confront the secrets and the hurt she’s been avoiding.
The Astonishing Color of After by Emily X.R. Pan
Leigh is wracked with guilt–while she was having her first kiss, her mother was dying by suicide. Now in the dark depths of grief, Leigh asks her dad if she can travel to Taiwan to meet the grandparents she doesn’t know and try and make sense of her mother’s life. While there, she encounters a gorgeous bird that Leigh is convinced is her mother. And her mother is trying to tell her something–but what?
Want more great reads or books that make you cry? Check out our best LGBTQ+ YA book recommendations, and our best recommendations for dark academia. And if you still want more great tearjerkers, sign up for TBR: Tailored Book Recommendations!
TBR is a personalized book recommendation service that sends you books you’ll love to read. Here’s how it works: Simply fill out the reader survey and let us know what you want more of–such as books that will make you cry–and what you’re not keen on. Then, an expert Bibliologist will read your responses and recommend three books just for you. Receive your recommendation letter via email in about two weeks, or opt to receive your recommendations as brand new hardcovers in the mail in about three to four weeks. Learn more and sign up now!