Give Me the Feels or Give Me Nothing! Cry, Baby, Cry…

You’ll have to pay attention for this post, I’m afraid. I feel madly-off-in-all-directions at the moment. This is the result of the current young adult novel I’m reading. If the last half is even close to the effortless perfection of the first half, I know I will use it from this day forward as the template for the perfect novel. It will be the measuring stick I will continually hold myself up to from this point on. Because its recipe is exactly what I look for in a read.

I want to feel. I want to bleed. I want to bawl like a baby until the snot is flying in all directions and I can’t see because of the abundance of tears. That is my pleasure in reading. To feel. To be gutted.

This is also my pleasure as a writer. I want to punch my readers in the feels. I want to take them on a roller coaster ride that toys not so much with their adrenaline glands as with their feels buttons. If I make a reader cry, I feel I have done my job. But I’m not talking gratuitous crying. I want them to believe that the people in my stories are real…that they experience loss and love and pain and hate and madness. I want the reader to live and die with my characters. I need it. And in the end, when they flip over that last page and gently place my book down on the table beside them, I want them to feel a soft torrent of heartbreak and redemption. Of loss and hope. Of pain and bliss.

That’s all. I don’t ask for much.

So I picked up this novel that spoke to me so powerfully it had a halo of neon signage around it. READ ME! READ ME! READ ME! Sometimes, I just have to listen to my inner-reader. I need to read the books it tells me to read.

The book?

ALL THE BRIGHT PLACES by JENNIFER NIVEN. < Click there to go to Amazon to read about this beautiful book that will soon be a movie…


Every once in a blue moon a book comes along and I know, even before I have finished reading it, that it will change me. This is one of those books.

And when I finish reading it, I will recalculate my goal as a writer. I will attempt to not emulate Niven, but to reach that level of emotional pull she has achieved in this young adult masterpiece. It’s not in me to copy other authors, to attempt to write the next The Fault in Our Stars or the next The Perks of Being a Wallflower or the next All The Bright Places. That’s never my goal when I attempt a new novel. My goal is to step up the emotional impact I’ll have on my readers. And reading gems like these? That’s what it’s going to take to get me there. And get there, I will. Because I want to make everybody cry like a baby. Give me the feels or give me nothing!

By Kevin Craig

Author, Poet, Playwright. Author of The Camino Club, Billions of Beautiful Hearts, and Book of Dreams, all from Duet Books, the LGBTQ Young Adult imprint of Chicago Review Press. Other books: Pride Must Be A Place, Half Dead & Fully Broken, Burn Baby Burn Baby, The Reasons, Sebastian's Poet, and Summer on Fire.


  1. Thank you both for visiting. I can’t recommend ALL THE BRIGHT PLACES enough. I found it to be absolutely beautiful. In some bizarre way, I think I found my literary self in Theodore Finch, though…so I may be bias. (-: Happy reading, if you choose to pick it up.

Leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: