16 Pitch-Perfect YA Books for Music Lovers
by Dena McMurdie
Music speaks to teenagers the way nothing else can, and many young people feel a deep connection with it. When my teenage daughter (finally!) got a phone, the first thing she wanted was an app to play music. She puts in her earbuds whenever she has spare time and sings along to Broadway show tunes, movie soundtracks, and Billie Eilish’s latest hit.
Here are 16 excellent books for teens and YA readers that love music. You’ll find stories that give a behind-the-scenes peek at pop stardom and novels that use music to navigate change and heartache.
Kiss & Tell
Go backstage with a popular boy band and learn what it’s like to have your private life displayed for everyone to see. As Hunter tours the United States with his band, he deals with the ups and downs of teenage romance, fame, and societal expectations.
Like a Love Song
A teenage pop star, public humiliation, and a fake boyfriend combine into a sweet and fun YA romance for music lovers. You’ll fall in love with Natalie and William as their romance blossoms. Pick this one up next time you’re in the mood for a lighthearted and swoony novel with music at the center.
Alma Presses Play
Relive the 80s with 13-year-old Alma as she navigates big and small changes. Alma relies on music to carry her through friendship drama, romance, and her parents’ divorce. YA readers who enjoy nostalgic realistic fiction about self-discovery will appreciate this novel-in-verse.
K-pop enthusiasts will obsess over this YA book about a teenage girl’s unlikely rise to fame. Alice’s journey offers readers a peek into the K-pop world, from singing karaoke to performing in a sold-out stadium. Fame, fortune, gossip, and culture clash in this YA novel about reaching for the stars.
Fat Angie: Homecoming
The third book in the Fat Angie series has everything music-loving YA readers could want — romance, competition, and an all-girl rock band. This spunky teenage songwriter and singer will have you cheering for her through every refrain. To read Angie’s story from the beginning, start with Fat Angie and Fat Angie: Rebel Girl Revolution.
Music collides with magic in this vibrant graphic novel about a girl trying to free her grandfather’s soul by playing a perfect song on his guitar. But soon, music and the quest for perfection become all-consuming. Gorgeous artwork and a thought-provoking message make it a must-read for creative people.
Music runs through Ruby’s family and her veins, but after a failed audition, she decides to leave it behind forever. When she meets her father’s student, Oliver, they connect over their shared interests. But their exciting new romance crashes and burns as they deal with overbearing parents, racism, and jealousy.
The Beauty That Remains
Three friends who have experienced tragedy find hope, healing, and each other through music. Autumn, Shay, and Logan have all lost someone they loved, and they deal with their grief in different ways. This book follows the three teenagers as they work through the mourning process and find comfort in music. Keep a box of tissues nearby as you read this one!
Super Fake Love Song
A case of mistaken identity gives Sunny the opportunity to date the most incredible girl he knows—as long as she doesn’t find out who he really is. Right now, Cirrus thinks Sunny is the lead singer in a rock band and an all-around rebel. But Sunny can’t keep his true (and more dorky) identity a secret forever. YA readers who adored David Yoon’s bestselling novel Frankly in Love will enjoy this music-centered story, too.
The Montague Twins: The Devil’s Music
Magical teenage detectives, a famous rock star, and a hypnotic song with strange powers make this sequel to The Witch’s Hand a must-read! Music and mystery lovers will get pulled into another fantastic adventure in this gorgeously illustrated graphic novel.
Who Put This Song On?
Life is one long song stuck on repeat for seventeen-year-old Morgan, and she desperately needs to change the track. The author’s experiences inspired her to write this coming-of-age novel that tackles significant issues like racism, depression, growing up, and fitting in.
Broadway buffs will love this YA romance novel based on a hit musical. Emma and Alyssa want to go to prom together, but nothing — not even two Broadway stars — can convince the PTA to allow same-sex couples at the dance. The girls must get creative if they want to experience the prom of their dreams. If you love the book, fire up Netflix and watch the movie adaptation.
Sing and Shout: The Mighty Voice of Paul Robeson
If historical nonfiction is your jam, don’t miss this fascinating biography of singer, activist, and actor Paul Robeson. This inspirational book walks readers through his life with facts, photos, and vignettes.
Nick and Norah's Infinite PlaylistAvailable from:
Two high school seniors meet one night after encountering their own misfortunes. Nick is nursing a broken heart, while Norah questions everything she ever knew to be true. Follow along in this YA favorite as their love for the indie music scene in New York leads them on an all-night adventure that ultimately brings them together.Available from:
In this YA coming-of-age story, best friends Colby and Bev grapple with what’s next after they graduate high school and embark on the rest of their lives. Will music be enough to hold them together?
If I Stay
Seventeen-year-old Mia's life changes instantly when a tragic car accident takes her parents' lives. As the sole survivor, she falls into a coma while debating whether to live or follow her parents in death. As a cello prodigy with a shot at Julliard, music — and its ability to bring people together — plays an important role in this heartwrenching story of loss, love, and hope.