Is it ok to make people cry?

Sam Baker studeerde politicologie aan de universiteit van Birmingham. Na het schrijven van haar eerste roman, Het stiefmoederscollectief, werd ze redacteur voor Cosmopolitan en inmiddels werkt ze voor het tijdschrift Red. Onlangs verscheen haar tweede roman, Nicci''s wil. Ter gelegenheid daarvan schreef Sam een exclusieve gastcolumn voor 

Ok, hands up: I knew To My Best Friends was going to be a little bit sad, a bit of a tear jerker, when I started writing it. Not sobbing and howling for 400 pages devastating, but the occasional sniff on the train and a tear trickling down the side of your nose, but that''s not because you''re crying, you''ve just got hayfever. THAT kind of sad.
I mean, it was bound to be, because the beginning of the story is sad. Like Sleepless in Seattle sad. You know, I''m sure you''ve seen the film: the mum dies and Tom Hanks and the cute little boy stand in the windswept cemetry and, go on, admit it, you have a little weep. But then they move to Seattle and it''s all about how they move on and the little boy helps his dad find him a new mum. Sad but ultimately happy. To My Best Friends is the same.
Wouldn''t you be sad if your best friend died? Of course, anyone would. But that''s the beginning, the start point. And if she left you and her other two best friends and her husband each a letter, not to be opened til after her death? Well then you''d be sad, but also you''d be intrigued, maybe even a bit excited... what has she left me? And then you opened the letter and... she''s left you something so bonkers crazy that you had to read the letter about a hundred times to make sure you hadn''t made a mistake.
But, no, you read it right. And then, for a while, you''re bloody furious! Because Nicci (the thirtysomething best friend who dies at the start of the book) has left her friends the craziest things you can possibly imagine. Things, to be honest, you can''t really leave people: her children, her garden, her husband! Yikes! What was she thinking?! And how the hell are her friends supposed to cope with that? As one of them (Mona) says to the others (Lizzie and Jo), does she really expect me to sleep with her husband (David) just because she says so? Can you imagine if your friend did that?!
And what about David? How does he feel about this. After all his wife has left his garden, his children, HIM, to her friends? His life isn''t even his own any more.
Oh, and did I mention she also leaves her best friends her entire wardrobe of clothes to sort out and chuck, cherish or send to charity? And through her clothes (because Nicci was passionate about fashion), her friends discover a lot more about the Nicci they thought they knew. They relive happy memories and they start to unknot dilemmas in their own lives that they didn''t even know they had. But above all they laugh, they love and they move on.
When the reviews started coming in in the UK they all said the same thing: ''It''s the perfect summer read - keep your sunglasses on!'', ''I loved it'', ''I missed the characters when I''d finished'', ''Not many books can make me properly sob'', ''It made me do ugly crying'' (who hasn''t done that?), ''I had to put my sunglasses on to hide my crying on the bus''.
And that made me think, is it a bad thing to make people cry? Personally I like a good weep - my favourite books and films all combine happy moments with sad ones - like P.S. I love you, for instance. To cry you have to care about the characters and be able to relate the sad times to moments in your own life. To me a good book is one that makes you FEEL. Happy and sad. That makes you root for the characters, feel their pain and revel in their eventual happiness.
So, To My Best Friends might make you cry. Actually, scrap that, it will make you cry. At least a little bit, at the beginning (and maybe a little bit later on, too, but not too much, I promise). But I guarantee it will make you laugh, smile and celebrate too.

Sam Baker

Nicci's wil

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    Nicci doet altijd alles eerder - en beter - dan haar vriendinnen. En nu ziet het ernaar uit dat ze ook als eerste dood zal gaan. Voor het zover is, grijpt ze haar laatste kans om iets te betekenen voor de vriendinnen van wie ze houdt. En dat heeft grote gevolgen. Aan de vrijgezelle Mona vertrouwt Nicci haar man David toe. Maar eigenlijk heeft Mona haar ware allang gevonden. Aan Jo draagt Nicci de zorg voor haar tweelingdochters van drie jaar oud over. Jo vindt het alleen al moeilijk genoeg om een goede stiefmoeder voor de twee zonen van haar man te worden. Aan haar oud-huisgenoot Lizzie laat Nicci haar tuin na. Maar Lizzie kan de tijd die ze aan de tuin besteedt misschien beter voor haar eigen problemen bewaren. Tijdens haar leven vonden Mona, Jo en Lizzie het soms irritant dat Nicci altijd alles beter dacht te weten. Maar wat als ze misschien toch gelijk had?

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