When I think of YA romance, I can’t help but think of Taylor Swift songs as I turn the pages. Swift has a captivating way of describing the nuances of first love and all the ways it can break and reshape itself into something new. But while I can think of lots of authors and books inspired by TSwift, it’s a little harder to find diverse authors/books along the same lines.
In that vein, I’ve found a few titles that pair up well with Swift’s songs. The following books all left me with a specific emotion after I read them, much like a Swift song, and it was that emotion that helped me match up the music to the manuscript. Some song choices were easy, coming to mind as I read, while others came much later, after a few different tries. All are, I think, representative of how exhilarating young love can be.
In Everything Leads to You, Nina LaCour’s characters Emi and Ava don’t get an easy love story. They’ve got their own careers to think about, and the people around them who may not exactly understand what they mean to each other. Emi is biracial and a lesbian, though this is not a coming out story. Emi’s uncertainty is answered by Ava’s confidence, and Ava’s mystery is grounded by Emi’s pragmatism, making “Ours” the perfect song to match the story LaCour has created for them.
It’s a little harder to pin down the right song for An Infinite Number of Parallel Universes by Randy Ribay, as it’s not 100% a love story. Archie and Mari don’t seem like the kind of friends who could ever be more than friends, and yet there’s something about them together that made me think it was inevitable. But their relationship, and the way they support each other even when they don’t realize it, made me think of “I Know Places” and the solidarity of that song. You don’t doubt that they’ll be okay, even when they do, even when they feel like their families and lives are falling apart.
I hadn’t heard much about Like No Other by Una LaMarche last year, but what I did hear sold me on the story almost immediately. Two teens falling in love after an awkward night spent stuck together in an elevator? It’s a perfect Angel trope, and I was reminded of “Treacherous” within a few pages of starting the book. Both Devorah and Jaxon feel responsibility and duty towards their families and respective upbringings, and their relationship is something that they value despite knowing that there’s not a whole lot of room for it in their lives.
Romantic tension jumps off the pages of Sarah Ockler’s The Book of Broken Hearts, and “Sparks Fly” was the obvious choice from the moment Jude described her sisters’ warning against falling for a Vargas brother. We know that Jude’s going to fall, and she’s going to fall hard, but there’s a gravity to the way she gets to know Emilio that is matched by the deep love and care Jude has for her family. It’s a passionate relationship that both of them struggle with because they both share the same loyalty to the people they love.
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