Disney is famous for changing the endings to such stories as The Little Mermaid, Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, and so on, from making them happier for the main character to cutting out the nasty bits. It makes for a nice fairy tale where the princess gets carried off into the sunset by the prince . . . but what about those unhappy endings?
Take, for example, The Kite Runner. I love that book. But it doesn't end happily, and neither does A Thousand Splendid Suns, also by Khaled Hosseini. They're sad, violent at times (particularly A Thousand Splendid Suns), but well-written books, and the endings make sense. Of course it would have been nice if things hadn't happened and the situations had been resolved differently, but it would have resulted in a very different story, and not necessarily a better one.
Which brings us to my question(s):
Does a story have to end happily for you to enjoy it and, if not, what was the last sad book you read that you liked? Have you ever read a book where you thought a happier ending would have made it stronger overall? Do you avoid books with sad endings? Would you (or have you) considered writing a book that didn't have a happy ending?
-----The Golden Eagle