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9 tragic love stories to read after seeing 'Me Before You'

Jojo Moyes’ best-selling novel isn’t the only devastating book on the shelf

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Alex Bailey

The film adaption of Me Before You, Jojo Moyes’ stunning tale of loss and romance, hits theaters Friday and follows the tragic relationship between wheelchair-bound Will Traynor (Sam Claflin) and his quirky caretaker Louisa Clark (Emilia Clarke). Ahead of its release, EW looks back at 9 other books with devastating love stories that will send you into a pit of literary despair.

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

Anna Karenina isn’t just a tragic love story for the ages; it’s one of the best novels ever written, period. From the titular character struggling for true love and independence to the nobleman trying to empathize with his peasant workers, Tolstoy’s vivid characters paint a beautiful portrait of life in all its multi-faceted glory. — Christian Holub

Before I Die by Jenny Downham

After being diagnosed with terminal cancer at 16, Tessa sets out to experience as much as she can. With her best friend Zoey, she comes up with a bucket list of wild activities, most importantly to find love. Told from Tessa’s point of view, Before I Die unravels a story of blooming romance amid certain tragedy. — Dylan Kickham

Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë

Emily Brontë’s only novel stands alone as a masterpiece in grief and longing. Read widely in classrooms, Wuthering Heights tells the epic story of star-crossed lovers Heathcliff and Catherine, who can’t be together because of their differing classes. They and their offspring march toward their tortured fates, casting aside happiness for extreme despair through decades in the English moors. –Jessica Goodman

Atonement by Ian McEwan

In McEwan’s acclaimed novel, set on the cusp of and during World War II, 13-year-old aspiring writer Briony makes a series of mistaken assumptions about the relationship between her older sister Cecilia and her lover Robbie which ruins both of their lives, and haunts Briony for the rest of hers. — Isabella Biedenharn

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

Kazuo Ishiguro’s sci-fi dystopian tale centers around three friends: Kathy, Tommy, and Ruth, as they come of age in a mysterious private school, Hailsham, in the English countryside. As they grow older, their instructors treat them with fear and pity, and the trio soon discovers a horrifying truth about their existence. Adapted into a stellar 2010 feature film starring Carey Mulligan, Andrew Garfield, and Keira Knightley, Never Let Me Go continues to grip audiences across multiple mediums with its disturbing and honest fusion of terror and tragic romance. — Joey Nolfi

Love Story by Erich Segal

Erich Segal’s 1970 novel Love Story begins as a hopeful tale of young romance: Wealthy Harvard jock Ollie falls for music student Jenny. Their unlikely love carries them through familial death and devastation, but is tried the hardest when Jenny is diagnosed with leukemia. — Dylan Kickham

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Not only did Green’s novel set off The Great Teen Cancer Trend of the 2010s, but it also brought realistic YA literature to the forefront of the publishing industry. Readers young and old fell for the story of Hazel Grace Lancaster, a 17-year-old with terminal cancer who constantly worries about leaving her parents behind after she dies, and Augustus Waters, an easygoing, charming boy with all the confidence of someone in remission. The two bond over books, and jet off to Amsterdam to track down Hazel’s favorite author—all while falling deeply in love. — Isabella Biedenharn

One Day by David Nicholls

July 15 becomes the only day that matters in David Nicholls’ 2009 novel. Dexter and Emma spend one night together as they ready to leave college and after they say goodbye, we revisit them every year on July 15. Chapter after chapter, readers watch their relationship devolve then flourish until one tragic event changes their lives forever. –Jessica Goodman

A Walk to Remember by Nicholas Sparks

Nicholas Sparks’ weeper follows 17-year-old Jamie Sullivan, a sweet, quiet, church-going girl, and Landon Carter, the jock who is surprised to find himself falling in love with her. When Jamie finally tells Landon she has leukemia, he speeds up their courtship so she can get a happily ever after in her short life. Inspired by Sparks’ own sister who died of cancer, the author has said A Walk to Remember is the only one of his books that made him cry while writing it. — Isabella Biedenharn