December 13, 2019

Why I Won’t Read a Book With an Unhappy Ending

Are you a fan of unhappy endings? You know…those books where the dog dies or the hero you’ve followed for 400 pages gets killed? If so, this might not be the blog post for you.

I, for one, hate unhappy endings!

Truly. There aren’t enough exclamation points on the keyboard to possibly emphasize that enough. Maybe it comes of being a ridiculous optimist. Or possibly it’s because I’m a hopeless romantic. But whatever the reason, I don’t see any purpose in sitting through a movie or reading a book that doesn’t have a happy ending.

“But Raine, aren’t unhappy endings just reflective of life?” you ask.

Of course they are—proving my point! If I can experience unhappy endings in everyday life (or by viewing news reports about someone else’s), why would I choose to enmesh myself in fiction that generates the same feelings? (Can you tell I’m passionate about this)?

I read or go to the movies to be entertained. I want to laugh, to cringe, to smile and, yes, to cry. But in the end, I want to experience that “aww” moment of happiness. I want the girl to get the guy. I want the underdog to become the champion. I want good to not only trump evil, but kick it to dust.

Unrealistic, you say? You might be right…sometimes.

But other times, those happy endings do come true in real life. For example, I went rather reluctantly to Mardi Gras in February of 1999. My friend wanted someone to keep her company on her trip to spend time at Mardi Gras with people she knew only through online chat rooms. Although it was about the last place I ever envisioned myself (unsocial nerd that I was), off I went.

We spent that week in a one-bedroom, one-bath apartment with seven other people, camping in sleeping bags on the floor. And it was there, where he helped me bust the lock on my suitcase, that I met my future husband.

Our first photo together, taken about 12 hours after we met for the first time. Little did I know this handsome Canadian would become my happily ever after.

We’ve been married ten years on August 12th, and I think of our story as a romantic comedy with a very happy ending.

When you live in the town of Disney like I do, it’s easy to get caught up in the idea of a fairytale. My character, Skye, from Foretold is the biggest believer in fairytales you’ve ever met. As she says, “I just think life is easier if you always believe the best is going to happen. What’s the harm in hoping for a happy ending?”

So if you ask me via Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads or email to check out your book, don’t be surprised if I want to know whether it has a happy ending before I say yes. And fair warning to all readers out there: if you don’t like happy endings, you might want to steer clear of my books!

Agree with me? Don’t agree? I’d love to hear from you!


  1. Sarah Evans says:

    I have to agree. I love happy endings!! Don’t get me wrong, I like a little self discovery or tough times in the middle, but always want it to work out in the end. Love the story about how you met your husband. I met mine after backpacking Europe alone and telling everyone “there is non way I’ll meet someone at work”. And sure enough, a few months later when school started again, I did.

  2. Melissa says:

    Raine we really are peas in a pod! I feel the exact same way. Things in real life don’t always go as planned, but I honestly believe that everything happens for a reason. I look to books and movies to lift me up, inspire me to dream big and give me the warm fuzzies. People do tend to make fun of my fairytale like dreams, but that’s okay. My dreams make me happy, they make me, ME. We need all the positive we can get, it can and will only help us. I would love to be more like Skye :)

  3. I tend to agree. Sometimes I enjoy a book or movie that gives me a good cry, but I always want it to work out in the end. I wll get upset and sometimes angry when the couple doesn’t stay together or someone dies. I want to be swept away and end on a happy note!

  4. Completely unhappy endings — villain triumphant, hero completely defeated, everything just sucks — are to be avoided, but not because they’re realistic. They’re to be avoided because readers detest them.

    However, fairy-tale endings — hero triumphant, villain completely defeated, everything absolutely wonderful — are also to be avoided. Readers find them implausible and undramatic.

    A good ending that straddles the gulf between those two extremes is one in which your hero wins, however that works in your fictional setting, but he pays a price for victory. Moreover, the price must be significant; you can’t wring any drama out of a trivial price. Drama only exists when men must suffer for being good.

    Mistreating your hero adequately to wring drama out of his dilemma can be unpleasant. I know that from extensive personal experience. But then, if it were easy, everyone would do it.

  5. Rainy Kaye says:

    I think, first and foremost, the ending should fit the book, whether it’s a Disney quality riding off into the sunset or a more bittsweet tug at the heart. I personally prefer the latter, but only if comes naturally. Blanket statements are too restrictive when there are so many exceptions.