{reading} subtle vs bold

I read a couple of books recently that made me think about the way authors often have such power over our emotions. Specifically, one book I read was more of a slow build; I gradually grew attached to the characters and invested in their stories. The other was an emotional roller-coaster, and I was moved from the start. Reading these books back to back made me realize, while I enjoy most books that elicit an emotional response, I prefer the subtle build-up to the bold emotional drama.


{The Dearly Beloved by Cara Wall} Two couples are joined together when the men are hired as co-ministers of a New York church. Nan, married to James and the daughter of a minister, is a wholly devoted and passionate minister's wife. Her warmth brings her fiery, activist husband down to earth, and yet she is no match for the depression that her infertility struggle brings. Lily is an academic and an atheist, and she and her husband Charles fall in love over intellectual conversation. He tries to understand her atheism just as she tries to understand his ardent faith, but both of their staunchly held beliefs are shattered when they have a child who is eventually diagnosed with autism, a diagnosis few understand at the time. This is a beautiful story of love, family, faith, and relationships. While a lot happens in this story, its unfolding felt quiet and gradual. Subtly my emotions and connections to these characters grew, and by the end I cried, equally saddened by the ending as by the thought of letting these four people go. My rating: 4.5/5 stars.  


{All the Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood} Wavy is the daughter of meth addicts, and she bounces from home to home when her mother is unable (or unwilling) to take care of her. Her aunt--her mother's sister--means well, but she has her own children to care for. While living with her parents, she develops an attachment to Kellen, a man who works for her father. Kellen takes care of Wavy in a way her parents do not, making sure she has food and clothing, and that she goes to school. Wavy's attachment grows into something more, and although he tries to resist, Kellen falls for Wavy as well. At the time, Wavy is only 14 while Kellen is in his late 20s, so their relationship is controversial at the least, and potentially illegal. This story packed a bolder punch, emotionally, and yet I find that I prefer a more subtle development. While that may be my preference, I would still recommend this one--just be prepared for a few gut-punches. My rating: 3.5/5 stars. 


Do you prefer subtle or bold choices, when it comes to emotional books? 

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