Lingering Last Words: 8 Of The Best Book Endings We’ve Read

March 9 2020

As we flip to the last page of a book, closing the journey its pages took us on, we are flooded with different emotions. Perhaps a nail-biting thriller took a twisted turn at the end. Maybe your favorite love story closed with the perfect match. Even endings filled with heartbreak and despair hold a special place in our bookish hearts. While we mourn the loss of the story we were once so immersed in, we also find comfort in knowing its parting lines will stick with us for years to come. Here are, in our opinion, some of the best endings to books. 

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe
by Benjamin Alire Saenz

Sarah Jane’s Pick:   One of the most affecting endings to a book I’ve ever read was this tender and moving novel about Aristotle, an angry teen with a brother in prison, who meets Dante, a know-it-all with an unusual way of looking at the world, at the local swimming pool. They don’t have much in common, but the two loners end up spending a lot of time together and form an intimate, life-changing connection. The ending of this book is so perfect, emotional and touching. When I read the last line I was on the subway, late to meet a friend, but that didn’t stop me from sitting on a bench in the station and crying for a good five minutes at the splendor of it all. 

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Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe
Benjamin Alire Saenz

Aristotle is an angry teen with a brother in prison and Dante is a know-it-all who has an unusual way of looking at the world. When the two meet at the swimming pool, they seem to have nothing in common, but as the loners start spending time together, they discover that they share a special friendship—the kind that changes lives and lasts a lifetime.

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The Lost Queen
by Signe Pike

Danielle’s Pick  Since most of the books I read are a part of a series, I have read my fair share of cliffhangers, but THE LOST QUEEN has me dying to know what’s going to happen in the next book. I feel like readers go through so much in this story as we see our main character, Languoreth, grow from a child to aadult with children of her own. The ending makes me so curious as to where the next book is going to take us—it feels like something absolutely epic is about to happen and I honestly can’t wait for it! THE LOST QUEEN was full of political intrigue, and even though the conflict was building throughout the novel, I can sense a bigger explosion is still to come.  

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The Haunting of Hill House
by Shirley Jackson

Kerry’s Pick:   Few things in life give me as much joy as a great ghost story, and Shirley Jackson’s THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE is, in my opinion, the greatest of all. If you’re only familiar with this tale from the Netflix series, then you’re in for a treat. A thoroughly atmospheric Gothic novel, Shirley Jackson’s masterpiece has entrancing characters, eerie sounds in the middle of the night, doors that seem to shut on their own, and an ending that will haunt you as well as any ghost. 

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The Haunting of Hill House
Shirley Jackson

For fans of “American Horror Story”

Though visually stunning, “American Horror Story” is pure nightmare fuel. Borrowing from the classic horror tropes that precede it, AHS is comparable to Shirley Jackson’s classic supernatural thriller THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE. Four seekers arrive at the notoriously unfriendly Hill House, where they experience powerful encounters with inexplicable phenomena. (shudders)

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One Hundred Years of Solitude
by Gabriel García Márquez

Hannah’s Pick  The ending of ONE HUNDRED YEARS OF SOLITUDE left me devastated (in the best way possible). I remember it flying by, wrapping up with such impact that I was in a whirlwind of emotions that I couldn't fully process in the moment. All I could do was sit and gape at the last page, and then I spent the next seven years thinking back on how it might be the best ending to a book I've ever read.  

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One Hundred Years of Solitude
Gabriel García Márquez

“Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendía was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice.”

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I'm Thinking of Ending Things
by Iain Reid

Nick’s Pick  IIain Reid had me so far on the edge of my seat that I should have been wearing a seat belt while reading this book. It is narrated by an unnamed girl known as “The Girlfriend” and is about her trip with her boyfriend, Jake, to meet his parents. When he takes a sudden detour at an abandoned high school, things get INTENSE. The ending of this book left me absolutely shook and reminded me why I love psychological thrillers. 

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I'm Thinking of Ending Things
Iain Reid

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Where the Crawdads Sing
by Delia Owens

Holly’s Pick:   Reading WHERE THE CRAWDADS SING was a very calming and cathartic journey. I felt as though Delia Owens did a fantastic job at burrowing into the inner mind of an immensely lonely and abandoned girl, who was in the process of figuring out herself and the world surrounding her. After growing more and more attached to Kya’s wild and beautiful story, I knew the ending needed to stack up to the intensity of emotions swirling around the entire book. As I closed the last chapter, I was both relieved and surprised. While neatly tied up endings don’t always resonate well with me, this one provided a sense of peace. Delia Owens wrapped up Kya’s story in the most beautiful and tasteful way possible, while answering all the questions I had been wondering and some I didn’t even think to ask.   

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Where the Crawdads Sing
Delia Owens

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The Poppy War
by R.F. Kuang

Johanna’s Pick:  The first third of this book seems to fit neatly into the “underdog goes to magic academy” trope, albeit with lots more military training and hallucinogens than magic wands. Rin, the young protagonist, is mostly concerned with beating her classmates and keeping her spot at the competitive Sinegard Academy. But halfway through, her country plunges into war—forcing Rin and her classmates to take up military positions far too early. From then on, the book sprints forward at a breathless pace, never shying from the cruelties and unfathomable bloodshed of warfare. In response to the trauma she experiences, Rin’s fury at the enemy and determination to end the war drive her to call on the powers of an ancient god, at a terrible price. Her anger and trauma, the conflicting parts of armies and governments, and Kuang’s subversion of familiar tropes, all crescendo to an explosive finale that, despite all the violence I’d just read, was purely shocking.

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The Poppy War
R.F. Kuang

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Flowers for Algernon
by Daniel Keyes

Justin’s Pick FLOWERS FOR ALGERNON’s emotionally devastating conclusion is one that makes the Daniel Keyespenned tearjerker difficult to revisit, but it also reaffirms the book’s central messages about the power of compassion and friendship. Much of the beauty of its ending lies in its simplicity, even the inevitability of the situation that permeates the latter half of the book. The final words, which give the book its title, are filled with a delicate poignancy, serving as a reminder of how our impact on others and others’ impact on us are ultimately what matter most. Flowers for Algernon? How about tissues for the reader? 

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Flowers for Algernon
Daniel Keyes

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