Even if you have never read a YA book in your life, you have probably heard about The Fault in Our Stars by John Green (TFIOS for short). Whether you have seen the movie, are number 594 in the hold queue, or just want more tear-jerking reads, these books should have you covered (spoiler: bring some tisssues!):
If you want more books about sick characters who transcend their illness (and maybe some tears):
- Zac & Mia by A. J. Betts: Zac and Mia meet at the hospital. They would never be friends friends in the real world. But different rules apply in hospital.
- Before I Die by Jenny Downham: Tessa knows she is dying. Instead of waiting to disappear without a trace, Tessa decides to complete her “before I die” list in the precious weeks she has left.
- Cures for Heartbreak by Margo Rabb: After her mother’s sudden death, Mia isn’t sure how to go on. Or even if she wants to.
- Somebody Up There Hates You by Hollis Seamon: Richard and Sylvie are the youngest people in the hospice. While everyone else tries to define them by their sickness or their treatments, Richard and Sylvie want to use the time they have left to live on their own terms.
- Catch & Release by Blythe Woolston: Polly and Odd barely knew each other before they became the only survivors of a MRSA outbreak in their town. Dealing with the aftermath of the outbreak and the mental and physical scars they now carry, both Polly and Odd have to figure out who they are now that they’re supposedly recovered.
If you want to cry but in an achingly beautiful sort of way:
- The Vanishing Season by Jodi Lynn Anderson: A ghost is tethered to the house on Water Street. She can see the danger circling. But even the ghost isn’t sure why she is still here watching the season unfold to its final, disastrous conclusion
- Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher: Hannah Baker killed herself a few weeks ago. Clay Jensen has no idea why until he receives a package of tapes in the mail detailing the thirteen reasons that led to Hannah’s suicide.
- We Were Liars by E. Lockhart: A wealthy, respected family. Summers on a private island. Four friends, the Liars, who have the world at their fingertips. Until one accident–one mystery–changes all that and nothing can ever be the same
- Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews: Greg is a master at blending in with his best friend Earl until his parents force him to rekindle his childhood friendship with neighbor Rachel who is dying of leukemia. When Rachel stops treatment, the obvious thing to do is make a film for her.
- Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein: A plane has crashed in Nazi-occupied France. The passenger and the pilot are best friends. One girl might be able to save herself while the other never stood a chance.
If you want a book that’s all about grieving:
- If I Stay by Gayle Forman: Before the accident Mia had a lot of decisions to make about her future. Should she follow her first love–music–to Juilliard in New York? Should she stay on the West Coast to be with her boyfriend? But after the accident, Mia only has one choice. Should she stay?
- Falling Through Darkness by Carolyn MacCullough: There was a crash. Something everyone else is calling an accident. Aidan is gone. But Ginny is left behind to piece together the shattered moments of her life with, and now without, him.
- A Map of the Known World by Lisa Ann Sandell: Cora’s life fell apart with a sudden crash. The Bradley family had been falling apart for some time, but when Cora’s older brother Nate dies in a car crash, everything is irreparably and irrevocably broken.
- The Edge of Falling by Rebecca A. Serle: Caggie should have everything she could want growing up as part of New York City society. She had everything until she lost the most important thing. Nothing seems to matter quite so much now that her younger sister is dead. Drowned.
- In the Shadow of Blackbirds by Cat Winters: In 1918 the world is falling apart as the Spanish influenza runs rampant and the government sends young men to war. Mary Shelley Black watches others flock to seances and spirit photographers for comfort. Then her own boyfriend, dead in battle, appears to her as a spirit.
If you want a book with transformative friendships:
- And We Stay by Jenny Hubbard: Vacillating between guilt and anger, Emily Beam is sent to an all girls boarding school in Amherst, Massachusetts in the aftermath of her boyfriend’s death. Surrounded by history from Emily Dickinson’s life, Emily delves into poetry and her new life hoping to escape.
- The Tragedy Paper by Elizabeth Laban: When Tim finishes school he leaves behind a stack of CDs for Duncah. The CDs chronicle his own downfall and explain Duncan’s actual or perceived role in the final moments. Tim hopes Duncan can appreciate the rarity of this treasure and its ultimate value not just as an explanation but as the substance of Duncan’s own tragedy paper.
- Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta: Taylor Markham is used to having no one. But when the only person she can trust disappears Taylor discovers there is more to her own past, and the relationships she has with the other students at her school, as she becomes enmeshed in the annual territory wars between her school, the townies and a neighboring academy.
- Fracture by Megan Miranda: Delaney was pulled out of the water by her best friend Decker after eleven minutes. That’s long enough to die. Long enough to change everything.
- The Beginning of Everything by Robyn Schneider: During a year spent redefining himself in the wake of his own tragedy, Ezra has to decide what it means when some people can’t–or won’t–move past their personal tragedy .
If you want another story about a character falling in love with a grenade:
- The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson: Hayley and her father Andy have been on the road for the past five years. Sometimes riding in Andy’s rig. Sometimes laying low while Andy tries to hold down a job and Hayley does her version of homeschooling. But then everything stopped and Hayley has been moved back into a life she doesn’t want in a childhood home she refuses to remember.
- Salt & Storm by Kendall Kulper: You can beat a Roe Witch within an inch of her life, you can sicken her with strange magic and scar her, but you cannot kill a Roe Witch. If Avery Roe can unlock her magic in time with the help of a mysterious harpoon boy named Tane, she might be able to change her fate before she is murdered.
- The Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and Goth Girl by Barry Lyga: Fanboy knows exactly what he wants and he has a plan: a secret scheme that will get him out of his lame little town and prove his worth to everyone once and for all. When the mysterious and angry Goth Girl bursts into his life, he might even have an accomplice.
- Damaged by Amy Reed: Kinsey Cole knows people can only bear so much bad fortune. That’s why everyone knows Kinsey’s best friend Camille died in a car accident when Kinsey was driving. It’s also why Kinsey hasn’t cried since the accident and is trying to avoid Camille’s boyfriend, Hunter, all while quietly falling apart.
- Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan: Every town in England has a story and Kami Glass thinks she knows hers. All of that changes when the Lynburns come back to Sorry-in-the-Vale. Their return brings many questions, as well as something more sinister, forcing Kami to question everything she thought she knew about her town, her friends, and even herself.
6 thoughts on “What to read after or instead of: The Fault in Our Stars”
This may not be a fair question, but… which is your top pick for the “sick characters who transcend their illness” trope? Cuz then I’ll read it…
Definitely Before I Die. I will fight anyone who says it’s not as strong if not better than TFIOS. It’s also kind of the book that I imagine An Imperial Affliction would be if it existed.
Fantastic list! May I add a link to my tearjerkers? http://www.readingrants.org/category/teen-tearjerkers/
Of course! This is great. Thanks for sharing.
I’ve read a few of these. I wasn’t really a fan of Zac & Mia or Thirteen Reasons Why. I loved Me and Earl and the Dying Girl. I was also a fan of We Were Liars and If I Stay.
I’m really starting to realize that books like this are kind of hit or miss for me. I guess I just have to accept that. :/
The same is true for me. My tastes have also changed a lot. I read 13 Reasons Why in grad school and I enjoyed it at the time (although I was frustrated by the lack of support for Hannah) but I think I would be less kind now if I were reading it for the first time.