Favourite Musical YA Books

Music has been a pretty big part of my family. My Dad’s father played the accordion for years before he passed away, and his parents used to hold dances in a hall by their house. In Ireland in the 1950s, dances like this were a Big Deal because they were where a lot of relationships started. Ask your grandparents – it’s likely they started “courting” in one of these dance halls.

I played the piano for years, though I haven’t played in ages and I feel like now, I would be really rusty. It doesn’t much help that sight reading was never my strong point. My brother can play guitar, and one of my 2019 new year’s resolutions is to learn it myself. So, it’s no big surprise I love reading about books that also add in a little bit of music in their narrative.

The New Policeman by Kate Thompson

JJ, the main character, comes from a musical background. He can play the fiddle (a skill passed down from his grandfather), and several chapters are preceded with sheet music for the fiddle.

The Perks of Being A Wallflower by Stephen Chobsky

A big plotline in this book involves the David Bowie song Heroes. Though the book as a whole can be a bit of a downer, this section is rather uplifting – especially the image of Charlie riding through the tunnels with his arms outstretched and his new-found friends by his side.

Paper Avalanche by Lisa Williamson

This book comes out in January 2019 and it’s for sure one you need to look out for. Ro, the main character, is dragged to a lunchtime rehearsal of her school choir. The music teacher notices Ro has perfect pitch, and suggests she audition for the National Youth Choir.

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Liesel Memminger is taken in by a foster family in Bavaria during WW2, as her mother is a Communist and it’s the only way of keeping Liesel safe. Hans, Liesel’s foster father, is a skilled accordion player. He often plays a tune to keep the townspeople’s spirits high when Molching is bombed during WW2.

Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell

In what is probably one of the cutest love stories of all time, Eleanor and Park, two outsiders in their school, bond on the school bus over a love of music and a shared cassette player. The band that brings them together? Joy Division. (This book is super 80s nostalgia).

Simon vs the Homo Sapian’s Agenda by Becky Albertalli

This is the first book in the Simonverse and, undoubtedly, my favourite. I was really enjoying the book, and then the subplot about the school musical (Oliver Twist) began. I was so in, as I absolutely adore musicals.

Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli

The third and most recent book in the Simonverse focuses on Leah, one of Simon’s closest friends. Leah is a drummer, and a member of the band Emoji (Simon’s younger sister Nora is also in the band). She also plays in the school band for the new school musical. When I discovered the musical was Joseph and the Amazing Tecnhicolour Dreamcoat it was like all my Christmases come at one. (Joseph is my all time favourite musical. The only way the book could have gotten better is if Donny Osmond had made a cameo as Joseph.

Candy by Kevin Brooks

Not only does Joe play the guitar and write his own songs, but Mike, his sister’s boyfriend, is also in a band.

Goose by Dawn O Porter

Doesn’t necessarily include music. But each chapter is named after a Spice Girls song. Totally counts.

What’s your favourite musical YA book? Let me know in the comments.

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