The Killer's Tears

Common Sense Media says

Bleak award-winner of redemption through love.




ALA Best and Notable Books

What parents need to know

Educational value

This winner of the French Prix Sorcieres is sure to get teen readers thinking about some tough philosophical issues, such as, is it possible for a murdered to become a good man?

Positive messages

The author imparts a message that redeption may be possible through love.

Positive role models

One of the main characters is a callous murderer, but is also a sympathetic character.


Murders by knife and gun, a fox attacks and is killed, an execution by guillotine, a child attempts suicide.


A man and woman spend the night together, and it is implied that a teen and young adult have sex, some kissing.


Not an issue.


Not an issue.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Adults smoke and drink, a child has some wine.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this is a tough, bleak, and rather melancholy fable. A child's parents are murdered in their home by being stabbed in the throat, and a child attempts suicide. A cold-blooded murderer is also a sympathetic character. There is some implied sex and drinking. Even so, beautifully written and seamlessly translated, this winner of the French Prix Sorcieres is sure to get teen readers
thinking about some tough philosophical issues, such as, is it possible
for a murdered to become a good man?

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

Paolo lives with his unloving parents at the end of the world -- the last house, a hut really, in southern Chile, an isolated, storm-wracked place where the land gives way to the southern seas. A stranger, Angel Allegria, arrives one day and murders Paolo's parents, but is unable to kill the boy. On the run from the law for previous crimes, he takes up residence in the hut and, very gradually, he and Paolo come to care for each other. Then into their harsh lives comes another stranger, Luis Secunda, an educated man looking to escape civilization. Paolo convinces Angel not to kill Luis, and so the three settle down for a while, and Luis begins to teach Paolo to read. But eventually they must head back to civilization to buy a few new farm animals, beginning a chain of events that leads to tragedy.

Is it any good?


This award-winning translation from the French has the kind of world-view that you don't see much in American children's literature: Life is hard, bleak, and mostly pointless, and the best we can do is soldier on. It's a melancholy world in which a child can love the man who killed his parents for no particular reason, and that love can redeem the murderer, who is executed anyway by an indifferent bureaucracy, leaving the boy alone in the world.

The book is beautifully written and seamlessly translated, and it has a horrifying fascination. It lyrically offers a cynical view that sees a world filled with misery, betrayal, and stupidity. But adolescents in their more dramatic moments can see things in the same way, and will find in this lethal prose-poem a truth that they think most literature hypocritically hides from them. Parents may want to suggest a less somber read to help wash this book down.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the violence in this book. There are some pretty gruesome ideas here -- is it too much for a book marketed to young adults, or necessary to tell the story? Is reading about violence different than seeing it in movies or experiencing it in video games?

  • Also, this book won a pretty major award -- the French Prix Sorcieres. Why do you think it was singled out for this honor? Does it make a difference to you if a book has won awards or not?

Book details

Author:Anne-Laure Bondoux
Genre:Literary Fiction
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Delacorte Press
Publication date:February 1, 2006
Number of pages:162
Award:ALA Best and Notable Books

This review of The Killer's Tears was written by

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  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Parent of a 17 year old Written byill kill you March 30, 2010

meh it was boring

dont read it its a trick!!!!!
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much consumerism
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Great messages
Great role models
Kid, 10 years old April 9, 2008
AGENot rated for age

I so much cried! I chewed my nails to stubs, while I was reading!

I LOVED THIS BOOK! I am an eleven year-old, I did not think it was very mature for my age, well the violence gets intense at some points, but it is not Stephen K. violence (Stephen is brillant, but very gory, I don't mind). This was the most dramtic book I've read, ever! I bascily cried forever, I only cried that much about a book, when I read The Boy In Striped Pamjamas! I was so worried like it was in real life, and thinking over the book, I swear I am crying right now. I guess there are some "sugestive" events, but I only think there's one, and most kids would not reconize it, so I think only mostly adults would, so no worries there. I just this to say 7 words and a few sentences: Brilliant, Marvolous, Amazing, Genious, Dramatic, Tear-jerking, Sorrowful. Really makes you think; what is life?, what is good?, what is evil?,are all killer's really villans, or misunderstood?
Teen, 16 years old Written byNinja1assassin April 21, 2011

Perfect for older teens but not pre-teens.

Love this book! yeah at first there was a murderer but in the end he's just like us. A Human being, we all have problems and flaws. We just need to accept them.
What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages


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