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YA Book Reviews by Amy


YA Book Reviews by Amy: Books that Made Me Cry 

Well at least made my eyes sting or made me sad while reading. I don’t tend to cry while reading books or even while watching movies, but I think it is important to note that I normally don’t seek out sad or emotional material; I like to read and watch things that make me happy.  

I have cried several times while reading. The first time I have ever cried was during the fifth Harry Potter book: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix; If you have read the book you then you will probably know why. 13-year-old Amy sobbed to her mother late that night not understanding that a book could make her feel such loss. I vowed at that moment I never wanted to read a book that made me feel that way, but years later I would stumble upon books that deal with tough subject matter, loss, or when I felt connected to a book or character.  

There are some people who are masochists and enjoy emotionally rough reads: whether it is because the writing is powerful enough to cause tears, the characters are going through a difficult time that you can relate to, real-life tragic moments, or something unexpected happens that can be upsetting. 

Grab your tissue box and read these emotionally moving stories (at least they were for me!) 


The Book Thief by Markus Zusak 

This is a tale told through the eyes of Death during World War II in Germany. He follows the young life of orphan girl, Liesel, with her new foster family. Liesel dreams to learn how to read during this dangerous time and begins to learn from an unlikely friend: a Jewish man that her family hides in their basement. 

This has been one of my favorite books for the longest time. I remember reading it until four in the morning and feeling that burning sensation behind my eyes, but I was NOT going to cry; instead I had to stop several times to catch my breath and continued on. I loved this book so much that I had my dad read it right after and he loved it too.   

Available on Overdrive and at the library* for checkout.  



Early Departures by Justin A. Reynolds 

When Jamal tries, but ultimately fails to save his former best friend’s life, he is offered a second opportunity for Quincy to live. Q’s mother and Jamal agree to get Q back, even if it is for a limited time. Jamal decides that he must understand and forgive the situation surrounding this friendship break-up, but this opens up old wounds in Jamal and Q is not so easy to forgive. Will these two become friends again? Or will it just end in heartbreak and death? 

Justin A. Reynolds explores the ‘what ifs’ and the grief the comes with friendship and love in his books, but luckily Reynolds also balances this sadness with humor. This book will have you crying from laughter one moment and tears of sorrow the next. This is a must read for anyone that enjoyed his first book, Opposite of Always.  

Available on Overdrive as an eBook and at the library* for checkout.  



Shout by Laurie Halse Anderson 

Laurie Halse Anderson writes about her past in this poetic memoir. Anderson shows traumatic occurrences that formed the person she is today and what caused her to write about the important themes in her book Speak. This free verse book will hopefully empower readers both young and old to make them feel like they can begin open and honest discussions with each other.  

This was such a hard read: graphic at times, infinitely sad, but ultimately written with the decision to empower those who might have gone through experiences like Anderson’s. This is one wow of a book. Please just be aware that this book contains sensitive subject matter: Rape, abuse, alcoholism, and substance abuse.   

Available on Overdrive and at the library* for checkout.   



Tess of the Road by Rachel Hartman 

Tess is a mess; her family is embarrassed of her and her choice making abilities are lacking because she does not care about anything or anyone or even own life. After a difficult few years with a past-failed romance and living in the shadow of her sister and hero of the realm, Seraphina; Tess has no choice but to leave her destructive past and find herself. This is a companion book of Rachel Hartman’s other series Seraphina and Shadow Scale. This book is an important read that encapsulates the saying, “The journey is more important than the destination.” 

This book has truly made an impact on my life with really important quotes and themes. The way I connected with this book was raw, but important. I cried several times throughout this book.  

Available on Overdrive and at the library* for checkout.   



Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys 

From Lithuania, Lina is living a normal teenage life until one day the Soviet Union officers capture her and her family and force her to live in deplorable situations by working in a Serbian labor camp. Lina worries about the lives of her family after being separated from her father and feeling like she must take care of her mother and younger brother.  

This book was an emotional read for me. There is tough subject matter and graphic scenes, but in the end, add to this harrowing story. Ruta Septys is an amazing author that will make you feel more than just the words on the page. 

Available on Overdrive and at the library* for checkout.  



And I Darken by Kiersten White 

This is a reimagining of the life and infamy of Vlad the Impaler, only genderbent; what if Vlad the Impaler was really Lada Dragwlya, a girl that was raised to be ruthless and seemingly uncaring, but with a need to be a ruler to help her people of Wallachia. Her brother, Radu, does not have the concerns that Lada does and only wants to love and be loved. They both must grow up with their enemies and learn to become rulers. 

While I did not cry during And I Darken, I did cry during the final book Bright We Burn. I had connected to these characters and I was rooting for their happiness. I was very invested to this trilogy and while it is dark at times, there is also some light.  

Available Overdrive and at the library* for checkout.  



The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo  

Xiomara expresses herself through her poetry that she writes in her journal; ibecomes her religion, then she begins to question her own beliefs that have been instilled in her by her mother. She writes about her life in Harlem, her righteous mother, the boy she is interested in, and so much more. Then she notices that her school has a spoken word club and she wants to begin participating in slam poetry. Poetry is the way Xiomara expresses herself; will the people surrounding her understand? 

 I listened to this book and I felt the raw emotion in the words that Elizabeth Acevedo wrote for Xiomara. This book is a lot about growing up and discovering the person one would like to become. While The Poet X did not produce tears, I found myself pausing the audiobook to breath because I was so wrapped up into the emotions of Xiomara.  

Available on OverdriveHoopla, and at the library* for checkout.  


Hello everyone! I’m Amy and I am a Youth Services Librarian at the Public Library of Youngstown and Mahoning County. When I’m not trying to reach my reading goal for the year, I like to talk about what I’m reading to my family, friends, and coworkers. You could say I am a little obsessed with reading Young Adult books. I enjoy most genres, but my favorites include: Westerns, Historical Fiction, Contemporary, Fantasy, and Mystery. I am always looking for the next great book that makes me connect to its characters and hits me in the feels.