Saturday, April 18, 2015

In Defense of Sad Endings

Author Linda L. Zern shares some passionate thoughts in defense of sad endings:

"I wrote a book with a hard ending.

Mooncalf is a work of historical fiction for middle grades. It is set in the mid-60’s, halfway between the assassination of President Kennedy and the murder of Dr. Martin Luther King. America was racing the Russians to the moon. Skirts were short; hair was long. Schools in Seminole county, Florida, were still segregated.

After reading Mooncalf, one reader told me, 'I liked Olympia and Leah so much. I just wanted them to go off in the orange grove and start a babysitter’s club.'

Spoiler alert: That’s not how it ends.

Comments from readers have included:

'I cried.'

'I was so angry.'

'I was crushed. You warned me, and I was still crushed.'


'It didn’t have to end that way.'

One young woman refused to read the book, having heard that it had a sad ending. She doesn’t do sad endings.

As an author, I sometimes wonder if I should have softened the blow, written a happier ending, given the readers a way to dream away the reality, but then I listened again to my readers. Tears. Anger. Shock.

I knew then that it was exactly as it should be.

In the world of my childhood, little girls of different colors did not go off and organize inter-racial glee clubs. We learned the hateful lessons our adults taught us and we cried."

Other Topics of Interest:
Reflections: Mooncalf
Mooncalf: Book Trailer
Pointless Stories and the Morality of Fiction

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