Victor Lodato's Favorite Books with Heartbreaking Endings

March, 2017
Victor Lodato

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Eight-year-old Edgar Fini has survived a terrible accident, about which he remembers nothing. He knows only that his father is gone, his mother has a limp, and his grandmother believes in ghosts. When Edgar meets a man with his own tragic story, the boy begins a journey into a secret wilderness where nothing is clear—not even the line between the living and the dead.

In order to save her son, Lucy has no choice but to confront her past. As dark crimes come to light, this family drama tightens into a high-stakes tale of suspense. Edgar and Lucy is both an adventure and an unlikely love story with a finale that will leave you in pieces.

Author Victor Lodato, whose fictional debut, Mathilda Savitch, went on to win the PEN Center USA's Fiction Award and the Barnes & Noble Discover prize, shares his favorite books with endings that will break your heart. He says, "When I say 'break your heart,' I'm not necessarily speaking of sorrow; sometimes your heart breaks from a kind of expansion, a fullness of feeling—and this, really, is a kind of joy."

Atonement by Ian McEwan
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"Ultimately a work of metafiction, this novel dramatizes how a young girl's error in judgment ends up destroying the lives of everyone around her. I recall reading the postscript of this novel and having to put the book down, I was so overwhelmed, so stunned; I actually started shaking. The book leaves you in a dizzying limbo—one in which you're lifted by the power of art while at the same time you despair at the fate of the characters."

The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro
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"This first-person novel, narrated by an English butler, tells the tale of this man's years of service to Lord Darlington and his professional relationship with another servant, the housekeeper Miss Kenton. Though there's attraction between the two servants, they never become lovers. At the end of the book, when they're reunited many years after their service to Lord Darlington, the scene is all the more moving for its masterful restraint. The book, like all the books on this list, breaks your heart not by giving in to an easy sentimentality but by an uncompromising commitment to seeing people as they really are."

Dubliners by James Joyce
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"This kaleidoscopic vision of Dublin at the beginning of the 20th century is composed of 15 stories. Reading them, you can feel Joyce's great love for these people and this place—and the famous final story, "The Dead," is simply gorgeous. I can never read the last sentence without crying: "His soul swooned slowly as he heard the snow falling faintly through the universe and faintly falling, like the descent of their last end, upon all the living and the dead."

The Lover by Marguerite Duras
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"This semiautobiographical novel, about a 15-year-old girl's life in French colonial Vietnam and her affair with a wealthy Chinese man, is a devastating examination of memory and identity. The voice is lush, mad, hypnotic—and though I've read the book many times, it never fails to act on me like a spell. I'm always shattered at the end, when Duras writes, "And then he told her. Told her it was as before, that he still loved her, he could never stop loving her, that he'd love her until death." Of course, love saves nothing in this book, which is filled with doom—but the strange beauty of the language is, in itself, a kind of salvation."

Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson
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"Ruthie narrates this story of how she and her sister Lucile are brought up by a revolving collection of relatives and finally come under the care of their dead mother's sister, Sylvie—who, up until moving in with the girls, has been living as a transient. In exquisite prose this novel makes you want to read its sentences aloud. By the end we witness the disintegration of a family, but we also glimpse the power of freedom, of the solace that's possible when we leave our homes behind."

Want more book recommendations from authors? Check out our Good Minds Suggest series.

Comments (showing 1-16 of 16) (16 new)

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message 2: by Ban (new)

Ban Tiến cho thue may photocopy gia re một trong những dịch vụ khá phát triển trên các nước hiện đại ngày nay. Với nhiêu tiện ích nổi bật như: giá rẻ, chất lượng tốt, không mất quá nhiều tiền mà dịch vụ này trở thành một cơn sốt trong những năm qua.

message 3: by Shannon (new)

Shannon Leahy After reading Atonement by Ian McEwan I cried and cried. I tried to explain to my partner why I was crying so much, but I just couldn't stop crying. Another beautiful book that will bring you to tears is The Road by Cormac McCarthy. I now have Edgar and Lucy on my 'Want to read' list. Thank you!

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