A Not So Happily Ever After

Many reader, like myself, want a happily ever after. I mean why are you reading a feel good book if it's going to make you feel bad? That defies the laws of its genre. However, is the want for happiness worth the loss of realism? 

Don't get me wrong, I am a die hard happily ever after gal. I'm guilty of skipping over books because I was told that it had a bad ending. But the few times that I read a book that didn't necessarily have a good ending, I fell in love with them. Obviously this has more to do with the contents of the book rather than its ending but all I know is that these books were memorable. 

When thinking back to why they were memorable, one thing that stands out is the fact that these books were not afraid of telling you the ugly truth. The ugly truth includes sometimes being left off with out the safety of your favourite character.

Life is unpredictable and books like most other forms of media are an author's representation of life. Many times than not, life sucks and people suffer. We walk in and out of lives like we jump in and out of books. Unless a book continues until the day the character dies, which would be a bad ending. It will stop at some point in the characters life once the conflict is resolved, however insufficiently. 

Similarly, we humans walk into each others lives without knowing and then leave for various reasons. The time is the important part and one may leave at a bad time of another's life, leaving their story unfinished in your mind. But this doesn't mean that because last time you saw Johnny, after his girlfriend dumped him, that he will still be sitting there moaning for the same girlfriend.
Had to add Mulan!
I guess what I'm trying to say is, unhappy endings are not the end of the world, unless the character died then yes, it is the end of the world for them. We walk in and out of lives, books, school but the story doesn't end until the person end.

So lets celebrate realism and life because although it sucks at times most of the time if you know were to look, it's pretty damn awesome!



  1. I don't mind unhappy endings either. But it has to be for the benefit of creating a 'complete' story. I hate it when there would be more questions than answers at the end of it all. I also don't like manufactured bad endings for shock value's purposes. Great post!

    1. Yes definitely, I think manufactured endings bug me more than any other as they make me feel cheated.


  2. Ditto what Joyous Reads said.

    We are NOT talking about any book in particular here -- we haven't even read the one that everyone's upset about right now -- but the truth, more often than not, is that death is the "easy out." Think about the stories we write as kids: "And then they all died." "And then the world ended." It's the oldest ending to any story that there is, because it's the end of life. But it usually takes more skill and cleverness to write a satisfying story where death is not the resolution.

    That said, there are always exceptions, and of course it's possible for the death of a character to be the most appropriate conclusion to a story.

    So, as with ANYTHING, really, it all depends on execution. :P

    1. "It's the oldest ending to any story that there is, because it's the end of life."

      Hm, that's not as clear as we'd like it to be.

      Basically, death = the most natural story ending in the world, because it's what happens to all of us (even animals). So of course that's where storytellers start, when they're thinking of how/where to draw their story to a close.

  3. Funny that I just came over here from my review of Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma (which definitely did NOT have a happy ending). I also just read "the one that everyone's upset about right now" (as Stephanie so aptly calls it above) and was both horrified and satisfied by the ending. I think that sometimes a happy ending just isn't what's appropriate. Forbidden, for example, left almost no room at all for a happy ending because of the subject matter - if it had ended happily, it would have seemed completely manufactured and unrealistic. The other book, on the other hand, could have ended happily or not I think, but I completely respect the author's choice based on the dangerous world that she had created and the character's personality - the unhappy ending fit. I hated it and yet still loved it. But I knew that there would be some people who would just hate it!

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

  4. I love happy endings (one of my favorite things when it comes to fairytales :D), but I also want realistic endings. Sometimes it means it's not happy or pretty, but that's okay. As long as it feels right for the story, I can live with it!

  5. Surprisingly deep topic Mari! I love happy endings too but I think sometimes other endings can be done well and cause even a bigger emotional impact. I hate cliffhanger or unresolved endings though. Great post! Man, I love old school disney.

    Jeann @ Happy Indulgence


What do you think?