I will start my review of Sad Happens: A Celebration of Tears with that I did not read every person’s confession. And second, I was not even 40% into it before I knew what I wanted to say. So, no I have not finished it yet, but my review of four is a 3.7 rounded up and I hope it keeps the same pace. Now, this is despite not reading some of the longer ones, or if the person’s mini biography did not “grab me.” As I had multiple copies (two online versions and a physical reader copy I switched between) I figured I could go back to them at a later date. There are many people included (in the short time I read I did not know anyone) and they are not fast reading (even the one paragraph from the rocker who cried in July 2018, at six months sober and on his third show of the first tour after becoming sober after an anxiety attack).
Due in mid-November 2023 this book is not your usually factual book about crying. It does not really tell you the whys or the how but that it does happen. And it could be in the shower, on a plane, in public, at work in general or in the cooler at the bar you work at when your ex walks in and asks for his usual. The stories could be about joy or sad crying. The ones about sadness and fear were the most powerful ones for me. Happy tears seem to not draw the same emotion as much, but as I said, I am not even halfway through and I could have missed a good happy cry (though the one one about the illustrator’s mother singing Raspberry Beret in church on Saturday night made me miss my mom). The introduction lets us know that the people included in the book are from all walks of life, the information was gathered in various ways such as social media; the author, Brandon Stosuy, own experiences with people or asking them to send them something about the last time they cried, why they cried, or a memorable cry.
I was not even 30% into the book and already had seen people cry because Batman and Supermans friendship is complicated in their movie; someone who cried because her mother’s dementia meant they will never be where the author wants them to be as mother and daughter (they had a poor relationship when the writer was a child); someone talked about the crying and singing connection, others the crying to a song that just hits you; the hard cry; the soft cry; the easy cry; the person who usually doesn’t cry; the poet talking about crying. There is the powerful cry of not being able to say the words to end her marriage, and the no crying when she finally did. There is the woman with the clothes on her back with a black garbage bag of what she owns and the two crying times the author experienced with her (the running and the fear her abuser would find her and the cry of having survived). There is even Pia Glenn giving you tips on how to “preserve the beat” and cry without ruining your makeup.
There are a few illustrations on each page as well. Some are more “emotionally based” and fit the story these songwriters, actors, advocates, radio hosts, musicians, zookeepers, even bartenders are telling. Rose Lazar’s work could be a simple paintbrush and tube of lipstick or a “classic looking” camera to represent the person or the situation/subject of the essay, or an abstract (of sorts) smiley face. They are simple, nothing fancy and are there on the page (with at least the exception of Kathy Macleod’s which is a graphic novel novella). It allows the setup to feel like a contemporary collection of poetry with the “image” to help fill in the white space, but is needed to help keep things moving and not feel clinical.