YA Books that Describe the Magic of Music

I know I mostly talk about books here, but I also LOVE music. It’s always been a part of my life and my family’s life, and I have always loved singing in choir and going/listening to musicals. I also used to play piano and I want to get back into it soon. So naturally, I love it when books tap into that magic I feel when listening to music and attempt to put them into words, and I’ve collected a sizable enough list that I can now post it here! I admit I read most of them a while ago and can’t quite articulate why they’re great at music descriptions, but that’s mostly because they can describe it better than I can!

Kaleidoscope Song

Set in South Africa, Kaleidoscope Song details how music affects and shapes Neo’s life as she discovers her own sexuality. Naturally, the beauty of music is tied in with her attraction to a singer. It’s also part of her independence, as she finds her own “song” (voice) and gets her own radio show. There’s even an extensive list of the songs featured in the back of the book. (Note: This book deals with corrective rape. See my review for more details.

The Beauty That Remains

This novel follows three POV characters, all of whom have a connection to music and have recently lost someone. Music is intertwined with these characters’ lives and their grief, whether it’s listening, viewing, managing, singing, creating, or reviewing. The three characters all intersect satisfyingly at the local music scene. Think battle of the bands and teens rocking out at a club

Summer Bird Blue

Summer Bird Blue follows Rumi’s summer of grief in Hawaii after her younger sister dies in a car accident. The two used to make music together, hoping to make it big one day…but now there’s just Rumi, and she’s afraid to write songs alone. But through the magic of music, she begins to heal through her songwriting, figuring out her own emotions.

Our Year of Maybe

This book is not out until January 15th, but I was able to read an ARC (review coming soon), and it is a dual POV with plenty of music affecting their view of the world. Peter is a piano player and composer who joins a band, and Sophie is a dancer and budding choreographer. There’s plenty of references to music they like, too, from Rufus Wainright to Pink Floyd.

Bonus: The Name of the Wind

While not technically YA, this fantasy book does cover the coming-of-age of its protagonist and has huge crossover appeal. I admit I did not like the plot and characters as much as so many others seem to, but what I did love was the description of music. The main character, Kvothe, plays the lute, and it carries great emotional weight for him–and economic necessity. No wonder Lin-Manuel Miranda is attached to the upcoming adaptation.

Have you read any of these? Or do you have any recommendations? I realize now these are quite serious, sad books…oh well!

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