The best books about emotions and suspense

Debra Chapoton Author Of A Fault of Graves: YA High School Thriller
By Debra Chapoton

Who am I?

I’ve lived a life of emotions and suspense; things are either life and death or they’re just an inconvenience. I’ve been writing fiction and non-fiction books (over 50 and counting) for quite a while. I’m an eclectic reader, enjoying all genres and creating my own works in most of them: young adult, adult, suspense, dystopian, time travel, sci-fi, fantasy, coming of age, romance, you name it. Two things I want in everything I read and write are emotional engagement (make me feel something strongly) and suspense (give me a page-turner!).


I wrote...

A Fault of Graves: YA High School Thriller

By Debra Chapoton,

Book cover of A Fault of Graves: YA High School Thriller

What is my book about?

I wanted to write a novel with teen characters that would still appeal to adult readers. In A Fault of Graves, I focused on the kids and their problems but included teachers, a principal, and parents. I layered in emotional things like hope, troubles, falling for someone, losing and finding faith, and growing in the midst of a disaster. As a former high school teacher, I know that all kids have problems, some more than others, but every one of them is struggling in some way and just looking for acceptance.

In this novel I took away their safety, their comfort, their known world and plunged them into the dark with people they didn’t know and didn’t like (emotions) and put a bunch of obstacles (suspense) in their way. Whose character traits, previously ignored or mocked, will help save them all?

The books I picked & why

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Echo of Escape: A Novel of Misogyny, Tragedy, and Unconditional Love

By Jessica Michaels,

Book cover of Echo of Escape: A Novel of Misogyny, Tragedy, and Unconditional Love

Why this book?

This novel is partly fictional, but also based on the author’s life and traumatic first marriage. There’s suspense for sure and a range of feelings. I cried hard in some parts, smiled in others, and felt sorry, relieved, and even joyful in other sections. I had no idea what would happen next. The story played out like a movie in my head, full of my two favorite things: emotional engagement and nervous fear for the main character. This is a thriller that follows a woman on a daunting personal journey that will pluck at your heartstrings.


Where the Crawdads Sing

By Delia Owens,

Book cover of Where the Crawdads Sing

Why this book?

Where the Crawdads Sing is a heartbreaking coming of age story with a twist. It was hard to turn pages as I was wringing my hands throughout. The main character is a child whose situation gripped my heart and squeezed and squeezed. The poor thing only yearns to be loved and I wanted to reach into the pages, pull her out, and hug her until it hurt. Delia Owens has a way with suspense too and startles the reader with unexpected events. This is a moving story about survival in a way I hope no one has to endure.


13 Reasons Why

By Jay Asher,

Book cover of 13 Reasons Why

Why this book?

I’d heard about the emotional impact of this book, but wasn’t prepared for the theme of teen suicide to be so absorbing. I read the whole thing in shock and suspense and a whole lot of hope – hope that when I got to the end the main character wouldn’t have done the unthinkable. There are so many different emotions in this novel that any reader will be able to connect one way or another. We’ve all been teens facing bullying, rejection, first love, misunderstandings, and all that other “stuff” that tears you apart or makes you stronger. 


Gone Girl

By Gillian Flynn,

Book cover of Gone Girl

Why this book?

Whoa! Unreliable narrator or unbelievable plot twist? This is an edge-of-your-seat read and, of course, the book is better than the movie. I dove into this one with no expectations and the emotions swept over me and pulled me deeper into the deception. This is an ingenious thriller, hence much suspense. I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough. These are flawed characters who do despicable things, but oh, the suspense, the passionate reactions, the emotional sensations; all these things keep you reading and feed those insatiable demands for more literary thrills.


The Fault in Our Stars

By John Green,

Book cover of The Fault in Our Stars

Why this book?

I picked this one to round out the five books about emotions and suspense partly because I like the title which has a double meaning (like mine: A Fault of Graves). Talk about emotional overload, whew, this one grips your heart. If you’re a softy like me, you’ll cry for these fictional characters who are dealt a low blow at a young age. Death is imminent. In my very first year teaching I had a student die and that sorrow has never left me. The suspense in this book is a steady groan, unlike the more striking bursts in the previous recommendations, but the steady nervous apprehension is sustained with ups and downs in the emotional department. As usual, the book is far better than the movie.


5 book lists we think you will like!

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