Today I saw a post on galleycat about a Twitter conversation unfolding with the hashtag #booksthatmademecry. A popular result is Where the Red Fern Grows. I actually re-read that book a couple years ago, at Thanksgiving, when I was looking for something – anything – to distract me between bouts of vomiting in my childhood bathroom. My niece passed around a short-lived but violent stomach bug that my husband’s family initially interpreted as food poisoning until I managed to disprove the theory (I didn’t have dinner with them).
When it became clear that I was being sick too often to go back to bed, I started poking around in cabinets for something to keep myself occupied and found the book. Why was it there? I have no idea. It’s the sort of book that should be in my mom’s third-grade classroom library. Anyhoo. Beggars can’t be choosers.
I think the thing that surprised me most when I revisited it was the sort of stilted, formal quality of the prose (sorry Wilson Rawls). That’s likely the byproduct of the time in which the book was published (1961), but it doesn’t interfere with the heartbreak of the story. Wikipedia tells me that it was largely autobiographical, which I did not realize.
I can’t remember if I cried or not when I re-read it most recently, but I certainly did the first time around. Stuff with animals: deadly-sad. See also: Cormac McCarthy, The Crossing; Robin McKinley, Deerskin. And many more I’m forgetting, I’m sure.