Music is a huge part of my life. When life was too loud and chaotic, or when I felt too alone, it was music that filled me. It was books and music that gave me a place to grieve, to process what was happening during the turbulent times of my teen years, and to find ways to express myself when words failed me. They made me cry, made me laugh, made me feel as though whatever I was going through…I could turn those dark times into tools of survival somehow. I could come out of it far better….far stronger and wiser than whoever had been born in the midst of it.
But looking back, I can’t remember a single book that featured music…and the empowering influence it can give to teens. The hope. The answers. The means of confrontation, and escape. That’s why I’m more than happy to recommend these five books. No, I haven’t read them all yet, but the ones I have read are beautiful and tragic and powerful in their own ways. If you’re a music lover, too, these books might speak to you….
Release date: January 29, 2019
Sixteen-year-old Paris Secord’s (aka DJ ParSec) career–and life–has come to an untimely end, and the local music scene is reeling. No one is feeling the pain more than her shunned pre-fame best friend, Kya, and Paris’s chief groupie, Fuse. But suspicion trumps grief, and since each suspects the other of Paris’s murder, they’re locked in a high-stakes game of public accusations and sabotage.
Everyone in the ParSec Nation (DJ ParSec’s local media base)–including the killer–is content to watch it play out, until Kya and Fuse discover a secret: Paris was on the verge of major deal that would’ve catapulted her to superstar status on a national level, leaving her old life (and old friends) behind. With the new info comes new motives. New suspects. And a fandom that shows its deadly side. As Kya and Fuse come closer to the twisted truth, the killer’s no longer amused. But murdering Paris was simple enough, so getting rid of her nobody-friends shouldn’t be an issue.
Lamar Giles is one of those authors who have caught me off guard. Like, bro. Where have you been all my life? Who ARE you, sneaking onto my TBR like this? #unexpectedlove #iregretnothing In all seriousness, though, I never read anything by Giles before now, and I kind of wished I did. His blend of music and chills in this YA Thriller kept me on edge, unable to put the book down. And you know this is rare for me these days. It’s just one of the many reasons you should read it, too.
Release date: March 12, 2019
Loss pulled Autumn, Shay, and Logan apart. Will music bring them back together?
Autumn always knew exactly who she was: a talented artist and a loyal friend. Shay was defined by two things: her bond with her twin sister, Sasha, and her love of music. And Logan has always turned to writing love songs when his real love life was a little less than perfect.
But when tragedy strikes each of them, somehow music is no longer enough. Now Logan is a guy who can’t stop watching vlogs of his dead ex-boyfriend. Shay is a music blogger who’s struggling to keep it together. And Autumn sends messages that she knows can never be answered. Despite the odds, one band’s music will reunite them and prove that after grief, beauty thrives in the people left behind.
Everything about this book screams out to my heart; from the gorgeous cover to the compelling plot with friends bound (and broke) by their shared love of music, I need this book in my life right now…and so do you!
Release date: February 5, 2019
Sixteen-year-old Bri wants to be one of the greatest rappers of all time. Or at least win her first battle. As the daughter of an underground hip hop legend who died right before he hit big, Bri’s got massive shoes to fill. But it’s hard to get your come up when you’re labeled a hoodlum at school and your fridge at home is empty after your mom loses her job. So Bri pours her anger and frustration into her first song, which goes viral…for all the wrong reasons.
Bri soon finds herself at the center of a controversy, portrayed by the media as more menace than MC. But with an eviction notice staring her family down, Bri doesn’t just want to make it—she has to. Even if it means becoming the very thing the public has made her out to be.
Insightful, unflinching, and full of heart, On the Come Up is an ode to hip hop from one of the most influential literary voices of a generation. It is the story of fighting for your dreams, even as the odds are stacked against you; and about how, especially for young black people, freedom of speech isn’t always free.
To be honest, I’ve never read anything by Angie Thomas. A crime, I know! But my TBR pile these days has been taller than any tower on Earth, and grows higher every month. BUT, this book right here has jumped to the top of my list. I am a huge audiophile, and anything featuring music is a MUST READ for me. In fact, I’ll be reading it this summer. So should you 🙂
Release date: May 7, 2019
10 00 p.m.: Lucky is the biggest K-pop star on the scene, and she’s just performed her hit song “Heartbeat” in Hong Kong to thousands of adoring fans. She’s about to debut on The Tonight Show in America, hopefully a breakout performance for her career. But right now? She’s in her fancy hotel, trying to fall asleep but dying for a hamburger.
11 00 p.m.: Jack is sneaking into a fancy hotel, on assignment for his tabloid job that he keeps secret from his parents. On his way out of the hotel, he runs into a girl wearing slippers, a girl who is single-mindedly determined to find a hamburger. She looks kind of familiar. She’s very cute. He’s maybe curious.
12:00 a.m.: Nothing will ever be the same.
I know, I know. As often as I stress “I don’t read romance novels”, it seems like I’m always drawn back into stories with romance thick in the plot, but seriously, Maureen Goo knows how to write addictive crushes that just….well…..make me come back for more? If you haven’t picked out your summer reads yet, this book should definitely be at the top of your TBR pile. Afterall, who doesn’t like sizzling crushes striking heart chords all over the world?
Release date: September 9, 2018
Rumi Seto spends a lot of time worrying she doesn’t have the answers to everything. What to eat, where to go, whom to love. But there is one thing she is absolutely sure of—she wants to spend the rest of her life writing music with her younger sister, Lea.
Then Lea dies in a car accident, and her mother sends her away to live with her aunt in Hawaii while she deals with her own grief. Now thousands of miles from home, Rumi struggles to navigate the loss of her sister, being abandoned by her mother, and the absence of music in her life. With the help of the “boys next door”—a teenage surfer named Kai, who smiles too much and doesn’t take anything seriously, and an eighty-year-old named George Watanabe, who succumbed to his own grief years ago—Rumi attempts to find her way back to her music, to write the song she and Lea never had the chance to finish.
Aching, powerful, and unflinchingly honest, Summer Bird Blue explores big truths about insurmountable grief, unconditional love, and how to forgive even when it feels impossible.
All I have to say about this one: Go out right now and read it. Seriously, if you can’t afford it….I will buy it for you. That’s how much I loved it. How much I hated it because it broke my heart. How much it replayed in my mind afterward, forever part of me now. It’s rare for a book to make me blubber like a baby, but Summer Bird Blue unraveled me in ways I can’t even articulate. GO. READ. THIS. NOW. Because anything that can make you feel this much deserves to be read. Just saying.
Are there stories featuring music you think I should read? Have you read any of these? let me know in the comments <3
Spin by Lamar Giles
On the come up
Summer Bird Blue