I have been reading a lot of books over the past year; after all, there hasn’t been a whole lot going on, so reading was an easy escape. One thing I have noticed is the number of recently published books that have difficult endings. Sad endings. Tragic endings. Rip-your-heart-out endings. It is exhausting reading those books.
What happened to happily-ever-after books, uplifting books, gentle books. Why does every newly published book have to be gut-wrenching? Is that what publishers think we want? Is that a reflection of society? Do people really enjoy those books? Is that all there is?
I just finished a book for my book club in which the protagonist died at the end of the book. Talk about a let-down. We suffered through the entire book, suffering with her through everything she went through…only to have her die at the end. She had no happy ending. She didn’t get the bad guy. She didn’t walk into the future with her head held high. She just died…and left her two young children orphaned. Really? Really?
I thought it was one of the worst books I have ever read, and it is on the New York Times best seller list. We were evenly divided in my book club as to whether or not people enjoyed the book. One participant asked, “where is her happy ending?” It appears that the author thought the protagonist didn’t need a happy ending – and that we, the readers, didn’t either.
What does that say about authors, publishers, and our society. Are we really so jaded that we don’t need happy endings, or at the very least, satisfying endings. I love it when the good guy wins and the bad guy gets it in the end. Maybe that is my issue…that I want a satisfying ending. Maybe that was just the way I was raised, after all Lassie and Timmy saved the day every week. And so did the rifleman. And Charlie’s angels. And Rockford. And Agatha Christie. And Dell Shannon. And David Baldacci. And Janet Evanovich.
Maybe, I want what no longer is. Maybe, life is not fair, or just, or kind. But when I read a book, I don’t want reality. I want a great story that catches me up with it and takes me to a whole new place. A place of goodness and mercy. A place where right trumps might. A place where I can let my guard down and just enjoy. Maybe, I just need to look harder for such books. Do you know of any? If so, please share. Let’s all look for kinder, gentler books with great stories. Maybe we can change the world…one book at a time.