My love for books has always gone well with my love for music. As a hopelessly untalented musician, I never quite followed my dream of starting a band; choosing, instead, to be a fan. As you might imagine, I am always in search of the perfect rock and roll story, particularly a love story. I have seen great examples of musical love stories in movies like Walk the Line and TV Shows like Nashville. But finding a good novel that hits all the right notes for me (sorry, I couldn’t help it) has been trickier. Biographies and memoirs aside, I’ve had to dig deep to find affecting love stories featuring musicians. Here’s what I thought about three recently read Rock and roll love stories.
Ten Thousand Saints by Eleanor Henderson
I’m a librarian and a book reviewer, which means that I am as close as you can get to being a professional reader. So do not take it lightly when I tell you that this book is seriously one of the best books I have ever read. Seriously. I slowed down half way through because I didn’t want to leave the characters. Ten Thousand Saints begins with the friendship between rural Vermont teenagers Jude and Teddy, a platonic love story if there ever was one. After an unexpected tragedy sends Teddy to New York City, he gets caught up in the hard core, straight edge music scene of the late 1980s, which Henderson does a stunning job of bringing to life, delving into the mindset and the motivations behind devoting oneself to such a stringent, intense lifestyle. In contrast to the pulse and energy of the music is Teddy’s delicate relationship with Eliza, a pregnant teenager from back home whose presence ties together many threads of the story with a tender if tentative resolution.
Verdict: Buy Buy Buy, even if you don’t know a thing about the hard core music scene.
If I Stay by Gayle Forman
In the days following a tragic car accident, talented teenage cellist Mia floats between life and death and must choose which path she wants to take. With both parents killed in the accident and her brother’s condition unknown, Mia watches from outside of her body as her friends and family visit her in the hospital. The memory of her music-loving parents and their family dynamic is heart wrenching and wonderful and so, so sad. The pain of their loss threatens to push Mia toward choosing death, but for the sturdy, pleading presence of her boyfriend Adam, a fellow musician (guitarist in a rock band) at her bedside. If I Stay describes their romantic courtship and subsequent relationship alongside Mia’s agonizing struggle to live (or not). I can’t say much about the novel’s sequel Where She Went without giving the story away, but suffice it to say that the themes of love and music continue in a very satisfying way.
Verdict : Borrow! Romantic and , but most likely a one time read.
The Song is You by Arthur Phillips
Julian Donahue is obsessed with this music on his iPod. Each song is a memory, many of which are attached to specific woman from his past. Julian holds onto music to remember how to feel things, it seems, but after his marriage falls apart, he has trouble holding onto anything. After wandering into a club one night, he meets and falls hard for an up and coming Irish rock singer. Their odd relationship unfolds in fits and starts, made all the more confusing to comprehend by Phillips bloated prose and awkward sentence constructions. I was intrigued by this plot and had really high hopes, but simply could not plow through the dense prose.
What are your favorite rock and roll love stories?