Prepare for some excellent crying sessions with Benjamin Perry's debut book, Cry, Baby: Why Our Tears Matter. Perry draws on his background in psychology and queer progressive Christian ministry--supplemented with conversations with leaders from multiple faiths and activist groups--to explore and invite readers to join him in the act of crying.
Perry opens with the story of his realization that he hadn't cried for 12 years and his quest to reconnect with everything that weeping offers. The next chapters widen the narrative with other people's stories to illustrate scientific and literary ideas about the power of emotional tears. The middle chapters address how crying is mapped onto bodies of various identities in the United States, accompanied by gendered and racialized expectations, and the last chapters examine the paradigm-shifting potential of tears on national and global levels.
Cry, Baby holds space for those marginalized by a culture whose relationship with tears and vulnerability is marked by the worst parts of white American capitalistic history. Perry points to social media trends, and Gen Z's consciously radical tears as disruptive of white American capitalism and, therefore, revolutionary. The book's tone is uplifting even when focused on outrage about harmful mockery of genuine tears and weaponization of crocodile tears, with vividly poetic lines like "our lacrimation doesn't just help us communicate; it whispers secrets about ourselves--our fervent hopes and aching longing." Turning to his ministry experience, Perry ends with "A Blessing for Crying," the perfect summation of this excellent book. --Dainy Bernstein, literature professor, University of Pittsburgh