Who couldn’t use a good cry from time to time? The YA genre has plenty of tear-jerking stories to fuel your catharsis next movie night, it’s just a question of picking which one. Here’s our picks for YA book to movie adaptations guaranteed to make you cry. Ranked from a single-tear-down-the-cheek to on-the-floor-sobbing. Spoilers all around, so proceed with caution.
7. Me Before You
Book Release and Author: 2012, Jojo Moyes
Movie Release: May 2016
Box Office: 208.3 million USD
Me Before You was designed to make you cry. Outlining the love story of Louisa (Emilia Clarke) and William (Sam Claflin). The story centers on a horrible car accident that paralyzed William from the neck down. As a result, William wishes to euthanize himself. Louisa, his new care-taker, is trying to convince him otherwise. While trying to convince William to stay, he shows her all the things she’s missing out on in her small British town. They fall in love with one another in both the quietness of day to day life, and in the search for why life should be lived. And in the end… she is unsuccessful. William still dies. It’s hard to watch Louisa lose the person she has fallen in love with, and watch William make that choice in spite of his love for her. But the sadness of it is overshadowed by the questions it raises about the ethics of assisted suicide and what is means to live a “fulfilled” life. The film has also received backlash for being ableist. In between the tears I’m asking myself some pretty large ethical questions, distracting from the emotional punch. So it lands itself farther down on this list than I think the writer and film-makers intended. Even in light of that, it’s a good book to movie adaptation in terms of being true to the source material.
6. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2
Book Release and Author: 2010, Suzanne Collins
Movie Release: November 2015
Box Office: 658.3 million USD
Who could forget the shocking end to the Hunger Games trilogy? The tragic death of Primrose Everdeen (Willow Shields) is still reeling in my mind as a great plot-twist. The reason the Hunger Games arc takes place is because Katniss (Jennifer Laurance) volunteered in Prim’s stead. It’s no less than crushing to see what Katniss started fighting for ripped away from her the moment she thought she had won. The book does let the reader sit with the loss a little longer than the movie does, with the movie reaching a conclusion quickly after the tragedy. Yet, the shocking and emotional ending is guaranteed to at least make you choke up a little.
5. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Book Release and Author: 2000, J.K. Rowling
Movie Release: November 2005
Box Office: 896.4 million USD
Goblet of Fire is arguably the most important installment in the series, in spite of it being known as the “sports movie.” Up until this point Harry Potter has been fairly light with relatively low stakes. No one has truly died, and there is a childlike nostalgic gloss over the first three books and movies. But all that changes in the Goblet of Fire with the sudden and emotional death of Cedric Diggory (Robert Pattinson). This is the first real loss in the story, and it has a profound effect on both Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) and the tone of the series. From this moment onward, Harry Potter moves from children’s books to YA. One difference between the book and the movie is that the book steadily holds it’s light tone leading up to Cedric’s death. This makes the shock factor of losing him and the dark rise of Voldemort all the more intense. In contrast, the movie immediately begins with an angsty opening title from the get go. It incorporates the darker turn the series is about to make from the first scene onward. The movie also adds a lot of unnecessary fluff to random parts of plot, sacrificing time in the graveyard with Voldemort. This makes his rise and Cedric’s death a little less impactful. That loss is rescued, however, by the brilliant performance of Jeff Rawle as Cedric’s father (Amos Diggory.) His pained cries mixed with the heart wrenching Patrick Doyle score are tear-jerking to say the least. The death of Cedric is felt throughout the rest of the series.
4. The Book Thief
Book Release and Author: 2005, Mark Zusak
Movie Release: November 2013
Box Office: 76.6 million USD
The Book Thief is famous for being teary eyed, following Liesel (Sophie Nelisse), a young girl caught in the horrors of World War 2. Set inside Nazi-occupied Germany, The Book Thief deals with the Nazi party and the war through the eyes of a child and narrated by Death. Liesel deals with losing her parents, living with a new family, hiding and befriending a Jew. At the end of the story, Liesel’s home is bombed, and her adopted parents die in the fallout. It’s incredibly heart-wrenching and hard to watch, and will make you cry. My only complaint is that the movie did not hold my attention as well as the book. That’s mostly just because Markus Zusak’s brilliant writing is hard to replicate.
3. The Perks of Being a Wallflower.
Book Release and Author: 1999, Stephen Chbosky
Movie Release: September 2012
Box Office: 33.4 million USD
The Perks of Being a Wallflower is one of the more honest depictions of high school out there. We follow Charlie (Logan Lerman), a young teenager dealing with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder after the death of his friend. He also deals with the psychological trauma of underlining sexual abuse. Befriending Sam (Emma Watson) and Patrick (Ezra Miller), the trio explore complex relationships and story arcs. This adaptation is also extremely true to the book, as Chbosky worked as a writer and director of the film. He did take steps to make Charlie more active as a character to better suite a film adaptation, but that doesn’t make the emotional weight of the story less potent. There are several moments in this film to make you cry, but none so bittersweet as the lost shot. Charlie stands on the back of truck as they zoom through a tunnel, something he was afraid to do at the beginning of the fiom. It’s a release that shows that while Charlie has gone through some truly terrible things, there is still beauty in life to be found and progress to be made.
2. The Fault in Our Stars
Book Release and Author: 2012, John Green
Movie Release: June 2014
Box Office: 307.2 million USD
An obvious one, right? While the Fault in our Stars is probably one of the most mocked YA sad stories; it holds that reputation for a reason. Another story about lovers who found each other at the wrong time, The Fault in our Stars follows Hazel Grace (Shailene Woodley) and Augustus (Ansel Elgort) as they build a relationship while battling cancer. Hazel Grace is actively fighting lung cancer for the duration of the story, and so the audience may assume that it’s her who we’ll lose in the end. But the sudden relapse of Augustus’ cancer and his quick death make the somewhat obvious ending shocking and heart breaking. The performances of Woodley and Elgort are fantastic. Elgort’s charming and fun portrayal of Augustus makes his death all the more hurtful. While Woodley’s portrayal of Hazel Grace’s grief is down-right take-my-heart-and-throw-it-in-a-blender. Sure, it’s your typical teenage YA story, but if you’re looking to cry, this is a safe bet. It also does a pretty good job of staying true to the popular John Green novel.
1.If I Stay
Book Release and Author: 2009, Gayle Forman
Movie Release: August 2014
Box Office: 78.9 million USD
And finally, If I Stay, This movie is definitely a little underrated. After a tragic car accident, Mia (Chloe-Grace Moretz) has to decide whether to die. The catch is that she was the only survivor of the car crash, and her younger brother and parents have all passed on. Faced with a choice, she reminisces on the past few years with her family. Looking back on her relationship with her parents, and the new love she has found with her boyfriend, Adam (Jamie Blackley). Told in a non-linear format like it’s source material, knowing what happens to Mia’s family makes the moments with them all the more heart-wrenching. Watching Mia wrestle with the reality of waking up an orphan from her coma, or dying and following her family, is compelling and painful. We watch her observe her friends and grand-parents stand vigil over her and her high-school years unfold in a bittersweet way. We mourn with her as she learns the loss of her family. It’s unique plot is constructed well, and I promise that both the book and the movie will leave you sobbing.
So break out that popcorn and snuggle up on your couch for these tear-jerkers. Whatever movie you pick from this list… Well, just be sure you’ve got your tissues handy.