What’s with the happy ending?

Life beginning on wasteland

I’ve always written them.  There are lots of reasons for that, many of which are listed below. On impulse, I even focused a recent SPEEDY BD SURVEY on whether my readers like their books to have them.  The response was overwhelmingly positive.  But then, that’s the nature of the women (and men) who like my books, and, let’s face it, my Facebook fans do or they wouldn’t be on my page.

Why do we like happy endings so much?

Because we’re optimists?  Because we’re dreamers?  Because we’re realists who know that life is filled with challenges, some of which succeed and some not, but we want our fiction to be filled with hope?

These are all good and healthy and productive reasons.  We read about positive resolutions in our books and approach real life in a more constructive way.  I don’t know about you, but when I finish a book that’s a downer, I want to go back to bed and sleep it off.  That’s no way to approach life.  I want my entertainment to lift me up, not press me down.

Entertainment.  That’s an important word in this discussion.  There are times when I read for education, and the happy ending isn’t as crucial.  Likewise when I read for intellectual enhancement, say, something my book group will be discussing at its monthly meeting.  Being a writer, I also read to see what a new, hot, heavily-hyped book is all about.

But entertainment is by far my favorite reason for reading fiction.  I want to get lost in a book, be drawn into the life drama of characters I like, and I want those characters to succeed. At some level (I don’t need every little plot twist tied up with a bow), that means a happy ending.  Call this kind of books escapist literature, but it gives me a boost.

Your thoughts here?  Happy endings or not?  Escapism or not?  Entertainment, intellectual enhancement, curiosity?  Do you feel that you’re being judged by the books you read?  How do you handle that?


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  1. Joam Taylor on July 6, 2013 at 9:16 am

    I have just finished Sweet Salt Air and LOVED IT…. Would love another about these same people.

    I have read most, if not all, of your books…. You are my favorite and the vey best !!!!!!!!

  2. Janice Belmonte on July 6, 2013 at 3:31 pm

    Fiction as entertainment: yes
    Happy Ending: yes
    Escapism: Hell, yes

    I’m with you, Barbara. I’m a romantic. That’s why I love your books 🙂

  3. pat on July 6, 2013 at 8:22 pm

    Don’t ever stop the happy ending! In this day and age, it is something to look forward to at the end of the book, after all the twists and turns. Love your writing!

  4. Melissa on July 9, 2013 at 4:03 pm

    Um, may I remind you of Three Wishes???!!!! ha ha ha. That’s the only one of yours I’ve never been able to re-read! But that’s because yes, LOVE a happy ending! I read for the whole experience, who wouldn’t want it to end happily? It’s escapism at its best and I love it. Absolutely adored Sweet Salt Air, I suspected I would and I wasn’t disappointed 🙂

    • Barbara Delinsky on July 9, 2013 at 8:01 pm

      Good point, Melissa. But I do think of THREE WISHES as having a happy ending. There was so much learning among the characters, so much love, that it’s the one book of mine to which I’ve always wanted to write a sequel. Wish I could say more here, but it’d be a total spoiler!

  5. Patricia on July 10, 2013 at 6:15 pm

    Just finished “sweet salt air”, loved it. Could hardly wait to go to bed at night to read. Your books are very addicting. You are one of my favorites. I don’t buy just any authors books. I have my favorites and stick with them. Thank you.

  6. Blanche LaKind on July 11, 2013 at 6:14 pm

    I read different types of books for different reasons. I have never confined my reading to one genre. I love biographies, historical novels, generational sagas and wonderful “happy ending” romance stories. There have been times in my life where specific books have been exactly what I needed at that time. Having said that…..I must say that I have read every single Barbara Delinsky novel, have loved every one and will continue to pre-order each future book. (I hope there are many!!)

  7. Kathy on July 11, 2013 at 9:32 pm

    I favor happy endings as well rather than sad endings. I simply feel better within myself after reading the last page knowing all the characters that I have gotten to know are moving on with their lives….much like in real life where obstacles and events do take a turn in people’s lives but isn’t that what life is about? I believe this is why I love reading your books because the characters you create grow like flowers straight through the last page.

  8. Bonnie on July 12, 2013 at 6:51 am

    What is wrong with happily ever after?! It worked for Cinderella didn’t it???
    LOVE your stories! Thank you for telling them so well.

  9. Donna on July 14, 2013 at 9:59 am

    Happy ending yes!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I can read the newspaper or watch the news for bad news. I need to see other side.

    I’m about 2/3 through Sweet Salt Air. I’m really enjoying it. It’s got a different feel but I can’t put my funger on the difference yet. Of course I haven’t read a Barbara Delinsky book that I didn’t like and I’ve read them all.
    I had a younger brother who had MS so that may have something to do with the different feel…close to home for me. Leo writing SALT was a nice surprise.

    What’s next on your writing table?

  10. Yvonne on July 19, 2013 at 5:35 pm

    Loved reading every single word and also loved the ending. I had a son who had a stem cell transplant which was not for MS for Non Hodgins Lymphoma. It just brought back so many memories. Thank you for a great book. We had a power outage here is norther Michigan and it was just wonderful to read for 6 hours even though the AC was not in force!

  11. Patty Vickery on October 17, 2013 at 4:20 pm

    Thank-you soooo much for your happy ending of Sweet Salt Air! I love it! I want to go there so much! Glad you are there with your happy ending stories! I knew it would be a good read, as when I ordered from the library, I had to wait until 120 readers go to it first! I loved Three wishes too, and mourned at the end! oh well,

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