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Stuff for the Teen Age

Guitars, Gigs, Girls (& Guys): Four Lists of Teen Books that Rock!



Books and plots involving music, musicians, fans and bands go together like peanut butter and jelly. In other words, perfectly! They’re pretty much a top 10 sub-genre of YA fiction for me and here’s why (see if any of these also apply to you):

  1. I’ve always wanted to be a rock star. Have fans screaming my name and worshipping me as a demi-god. Unfortunately, I have no musical talent. I can’t sing and I can’t play an instrument.
  2. I can’t play music but I LOVE music. I am actually a huge obsessive fan of a certain band. I have a fan twitter account, I read fan fic, buy fan art and about 90% of the pictures on my iPhone consist of pics of my favorite singer (and no, I’m telling who!).
  3. If I can’t be a rock star at least one could fall madly in love with me and write a song about us  that goes to number 1 on the charts. Is that too much to ask? Ed Sheeran, I'm looking at you. 
  4. There are some songs that just make me feel better when I’m having a bad day or there are musical artists that just somehow can write a song that says EXACTLY what I’m feeling or have felt. It’s magic.

So with a little wish fulfillment and a fist high in the air,  I give you four slammin' lists of teen fiction featuring rock music, drama, dreams and romance.  There’s a little bit of something in here for everyone.

So You Wanna Be a Rock Star:

Colby and his best friend Bev, go on one last summer tour with her all-girl rock band before college in The Disenchantments.  Rich girl Jasmine flees her strict father and college to pursue her rock star dreams in Amplified.  When he joins a rock band, Ori finds that he can finally escape his older brother’s shadow in Rock On.  Piper proves she’s more than just the "deaf girl" when she manages her friends’ popular rock band in Five Flavors of Dumb. Author Jennifer Echols gives a perfect depiction of a young musician’s life in Nashville with it’s mall gigs, dive bars and pick-up truck make out sessions in Dirty Little Secrets.  If you want a look at the darker side of rock , read the snark and anger filled words of a young guitarist in juvie in Wise Young Fool and the self –destructing Sammy in Struts and Frets.  In the excellent King Dork, wannabe rocker Tom spends an inordinate amount of time thinking up the names for his future bands, albums and song titles. For all these titles and more - check out this list.

Fangirling is a Verb:

Fangirling (and Fanguying) is hard y’all! It takes dedication, time and money to be a true fan and, like my Facebook status, it can also get pretty complicated. In Rockoholic, British girl Jody is known for her stupid ideas but her stupidest has to be accidently kidnapping her spoiled, high-on-drugs rock star idol, Jackson and keeping him locked up in her garage as he goes through withdrawal. Reunited features three former best friends who broke-up when their favorite band did, reuniting for a once in a lifetime road trip to see the band’s one time only reunion concert – probably has the best fan ending ever! Just out of rehab, Johnny finds a friend in North Carolina who understands his obsession with the 80’s new wave band Blondie and discovers that he and his father are not as different as he first thought in Debbie Harry Sings in French. Set in 1990’s Chicago, Hairstyles of the Damned finds two young punk rock fans discovering the joys of non-conformity. And last but not least there’s Fangirl, a non-music fan book but still oh-so-right, where we meet Cath a shy college freshman so obsessed with Simon Snow, a Harry Potter-like character that she writes epic, slash fan fiction about him. Rowell captures the fan fiction world perfectly and might even inspire you to write your own stories about your own obsession. (FYI a writer of One Direction fan fic just landed a huge publishing deal and is now having her book shopped around Hollywood. So get writing!). For more fandom titles - check out this list.

Make You Feel My Love:

With a severe case of "I wish it was me” comes Audrey Wait. Audrey is just your average teen until her ex-boyfriend gets a record deal, writes a hit song about their break-up and thrusts her into the white-hot media spotlight. Sadie also gets an education (in media & um, other stuff) when she dates super-hot, young rock star Jax Stone in Breathe. This Lullaby finds commitment-phobe Remy getting a thorough and hilarious lesson in love from Dex, a funny, sweet, lovable rock musician who doesn’t take no for an answer. Bad girl Reagan finds love on the road with a nice guy singer when she goes on tour with her country music superstar best friend (think Taylor Swift) in Open Road Summer. In the gorgeously written companion novels, If I Stay and Where She Went, Mia and Adam must fight death, their own music dreams and long distance to try and finally be together (make sure you have plenty of Kleenex on hand!).

It can be hard finding love with a musician but what if it’s your parent you ‘re trying to connect with? Maria tries to connect with her punk rock-loving mom in the Lower East Side set Supergirl Mixtapes and Chelsea searches for her missing mother who left her for a musician in the Wuthering Heights retelling, Catherine. Conservative Leo and bookworm Katy both go on tour with their punk rocker bio dads and discover new sides to themselves in Born to Rock and Beige. For more rockin’ love stories -  check out this list.


Where Words Fail, Music Speaks:

Music can heal broken souls and help people find their place in the world.  Elise and Marley both finally find where they belong and see their messy personal lives fade away when they start dj’ing in the underground club scene in This Song Will Save Your Life and DJ Rising. When his favorite Uncle dies in a terrorist attack and his family life implodes, Tom turns his back on everything and everyone but finally excises his personal demons through music in The Piper’s Son.  Sometimes it’s music that can help you find your real self. In Fat Kid Rules the World, depressed and suicidal Troy finds he has a punk rock drummer hiding inside him and in How To Rock Braces and Glasses, ex popular girl Kacey finds her inner rock chick when she befriends a boy in a punk rock band.  Sometimes it’s the same love of music that brings lost souls together. Two misfits find connection and romance while bonding over music in the 1986-set, stunner Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell and in Just Listen by Sarah Dessen, music lovers Annabel and Owen find that the art of listening can help you face the hard truths. These stories and more can be found on this list.

What does music do for you? What songs are filling up your playlists right now? What rock n’ roll stories are missing from these lists? Please comment below. 


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