Book to Movie: Soundtracks that Rock


October is an exciting month for any YA lit fan, because it includes Teen Read Week! In honor of this annual celebration of young adult literature, YALSA invited book-loving teens all over the world to apply to share their enthusiasm for reading in a guest post for The Hub. Thirty-one talented young writers were chosen, and we’ll be featuring posts from these unique voices all month long. Here’s Dessi Gomez from California.

fault in our stars the giver if i stayMovie soundtracks can potentially make or break a movie. It’s great when they complement the movie, and they are even more poignant when they connect to the book off of which the movie is based. I compared the soundtracks of three popular books that have been recently transformed into movies: The Giver by Lois Lowry, If I Stay by Gayle Forman, and The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. These soundtracks chosen to help tell each of these stories have different tones that create unique vibes for each and every reader and viewer. The Giver is suspenseful and liberating. If I Stay is indie and quietly heartbreaking. The Fault in Our Stars is modern and mainstream. I wanted to talk about four songs from each soundtrack that I personally think really topped off the movie. [Note: time stamps for specific lyrical references are given at the end of some descriptions.]

fault-our-stars-movie-posterThe Fault in Our Stars

  • “All of These Stars” by Ed Sheeran

This song does a fine job of closing up the movie as the credits song. I thought of the title of the story when I heard the words, “I saw a shooting star and I thought of you.” Many of the songs in the soundtrack contain references to the stars. The lyric “I can see the stars from America/Amsterdam” connects the two countries in which Hazel and Augustus spend time together. The combination of “the way our horizons meet” and “skyline splits in two” speaks of how Hazel and Augustus are meant to be together, but are cruelly torn apart. “I looked across and fell in love” reminds me of how Augustus couldn’t take his eyes off of Hazel once he saw her in support group.  [Times: beginning-1:37; 2:17-2:35; 3:15 to end]

  •  â€œAll I Want” by Kodaline

After thinking about, “you brought out the best in me, a part of me I’ve never seen,” I realized that it definitely sums up how Augustus lit up Hazel’s life and made her so happy. I wholeheartedly agree with the line, “Our love was made for movie screens.” [Time: 2:02-2:27]


  •  â€œNot About Angels” by Birdy

This song epitomizes Hazel’s sadness. The vocals and piano pack a pining punch of fresh heartache. The following line really relates to how Hazel feels when Augustus tells her that his cancer is back: “How unfair it’s just our luck. Found something real that’s out of touch.” The fact that “it’s not about angels” relates to Augustus’ fear of oblivion and to Hazel’s doubt in what Augustus’ parents call encouragements.



  •  â€œBest Shot” by Birdy and Jaymes Young

This melody reflects Augustus’ omnipresence, even after he dies. He will always be there for Hazel. “Stars fall from above, and you’re barely holding on my love” contains another allusion to stars and to Gus’ unwavering loyalty. It is a hopeful duet between a couple, both saying to each other, “I’ll be here givin’ it my best shot, cryin’ from the rooftops, nothing can stop us if we believe.”

The_Giver_posterThe Giver

  • “Ordinary Human” by One Republic

 Another spectacular credits song, “Ordinary Human,” reflects Jonas’ new awareness of the world that he is living without.

“Today I took a walk in the clouds, used to keep my eyes wide shut but now I’m looking down” reflects how Jonas’ eyes have been opened to a whole bunch of new ideas. He “used to be a shadow, now the shadows scream [his] name” describes how he wasn’t very important before he was named Receiver of Memory, but now that he is, every secret tugs at him, compelling him to discover. “In the daylight I could swear, we’re the same” illustrates Jonas’ close bond to The Giver as well as the principle of Sameness that governs the community. I immediately thought of Jonas’ trek to the boundary of Elsewhere and his goal to heal the community when I heard the words, “There’ll be peace in the city tonight, and when I’m gone, I hope that you/they get it right.”


  • “One Minute More” by Capital Cities

“Don’t wait for an invitation, no need for a reservation” sounds like Jonas trying to convince his friends to break the strict rules. “You gotta see what I see in you” fits with Jonas’ attraction to Fiona, which was emphasized more in the movie than in the book; it also reflects when he tries to show his friends the colors. “Just think of a destination, I’ll be your transportation. We’ll find there’s a kind of place that can only be seen with the naked mind” sounds exactly like something the Giver would say to Jonas in preparation for a reception of memory. More emphasis is placed on the fact that, despite the Giver and Jonas being two individuals, they work well together as a team by the words, “unleash your imagination, two stars one constellation.”


  • “Silent” by Tori Kelly

 Silent is a very strong song when it comes to tying in with The Giver. “No more black and white, this life’s too colorful” definitely reflects how Jonas begins to see the colors. “Same faces around me with the same point of view: everything is perfect and everything’s ok, just swallow their lies and let your emotions fade” perfectly describes how Jonas feels when he is surrounded by other members of the community as well as how they behave. Jonas’ realization that he needs to go past the boundary to Elsewhere is evident in the lines, “gotta go gotta get out of this town, nothin’ left for me here, can’t stick around” and “got my own opinion my own words to say, got my own vision so I know I can’t stay”. He knows deep down that, “[He’s] not meant to be silent.” [Time: beginning to 1:27]


  • “Whole” by Rixton

“We’re/you’re tryin’ to take two halves and make them whole” is a sort of double entendre. It speaks of the committee and Chief Elder’s effort to make the community work, but by taking away freedom of choice and feelings and replacing them with obedience in order to help it run smoothly. This in turn is combined with Sameness, a form of Communism, and yes the community functions like a well-oiled machine (except for the occasional release), however it is missing something, therefore it is not whole. The other meaning is the attempt by the Giver and Jonas to replenish the community and fill the gap. “When you wake up, and you find that I’m not there, cry for me. Put on your make-up, and just let down your hair, don’t lose sleep” puts Jonas’ thoughts of leaving his “family unit” and friends for Elsewhere into words. It is basically saying: yes, miss me, but don’t worry.

If_I_Stay_posterIf I Stay

  • “Promise” by Ben Howard

The lyrics, “Meet me there, under the flowers, we’ll wait through the hours of cold winter,” contain a promise in itself. I love the scene in the movie that this song outlines. “Tearin’ down doors of time” reminds me of how Adam and Mia wouldn’t see each other for long periods of time during their relationship. This song reflects the roughness and rockiness of the relationship with “promise me this, you’ll wait for me only scared of the lonely arms.” They want to stay loyal to each other. I love the crescendo and touch of cello after “and maybe, I’ll come home” as well as the “who am I darlin’ to/for ya?” lyric. This song is a quiet plea from both sides for the relationship to last. [Time: 0:31-0:58; 1:35-1:45; 2:25-3:40]


  • “I Will Be There” by Odessa

To me, this song is ultimately about loyalty and steadfastness, qualities that Mia, Adam, and Kim all possess. The following lyrics point this out for me: “If you ever need someone, to cry to/ to hold you/ to just love you/ to simply adore you, I will be there, standin’ by your side” and “mountains to the sea, in every city, from the valleys to the moon, in every country” reminds me of nature in Oregon.


  • “Today” by Williamette Stone

I love love love this collaboration between Mia, Adam, and Mia’s family. The simplicity and hominess and togetherness help make the song what it is. The guitar, banjo, and cello sound so harmonious together. Ultimately, I love it because it shows Mia that she really does belong in her family; it dissolves her doubts.


  • “Heal” by Tom Odell

This is another perfect credits song because it is saying to heal and move on and let go and that is exactly what Mia needs to do. I love the soothing vibe and similes that Odell uses. “Take my mind and take my pain, like an empty bottle takes the rain” (bottle it up and save it for another day), “take my past and take my sins, like an empty sail takes the wind” (sail on, start a new journey), and “take my heart and take my hands, like an ocean takes the dirty sands” (cleanse). These all contain some reference to water, which flows continuously and pushes through no matter what is in its way. This is what Mia needs to do. [Time: beginning to 2:00]


Music plays an important role in movies. It can be a true asset to the film by embodying the occurrences and feelings of the story, or it can distract by disagreeing with the plot, which leaves viewers confused and unsatisfied. These soundtracks served as the icing on the cake and the cherry on top for this trio of popular films.

–Dessi Gomez


Hi everyone! My name is Dessi Gomez. I live in California, and I am a sophomore at Santa Margarita Catholic High School. I also play soccer and participate in MUN. My hobbies include writing, going to the beach, and watching movies…when I’m not reading, that is. I love to listen to music, especially Taylor Swift and Ed Sheeran. As of right now, my favorite book genres are Young Adult and Contemporary. I was so excited and grateful to be chosen as a guest blogger for The Hub and have enjoyed being part of the team. Hope you like my post!

6 thoughts on “Book to Movie: Soundtracks that Rock”

  1. Awesome post Dessi! I’m familiar with “The Fault in Our Stars” and I have the soundtrack. I agree with you that the songs enhance the story that Green wants to project to his readership. Your insight on the songs for “The Giver” and “If I Stay” movies have made me want to read the books, which further proves your point on the potential impact that a movie’s soundtrack can have on sparking interest in a book.

  2. This is a lovely post Dessi! I adore “The Fault in Our Stars” and one of the few factors that caught my attention during the movie was, not just the plot, but the soundtrack. I didn’t just come here to support you and comment on your blog, but I also came to enjoy and share my love of this movie with a talented student such as yourself. Your post really does empathize how the music in the movie plays a huge role with heartbreak, love, fun, and any other emotion that reflects a scene in the movie.

    My congratulations and thanks,

  3. Hi Dessi! I loved your post- I’ve been trying to find some new songs to buy, and this list is perfect. It combines two of my favorite subjects, reading and listening to music! Congratulations on an amazing post, and congrats on being picked as a guest blogger!

    p.s. I loved reading “The Giver”, and now I really want to see the movie and hear the soundtrack- thanks for giving me something to do during the coming weeks

  4. Hey you Dessi!!! It’s that hyper active kid in two of your classes! This blog post is so incredibly rad! Congratulations on being able to be a guest blogger here of The Hub! To look at your post it’s so incredibly through and enjoyable to read, I especially love you comments on Rixton’s “Whole” and the “double entendre”. Good Job <3

  5. That was a great read! I loved how you tied in each specific line of lyrics with parts of the book, with both songs that were written for the movie adaptation of the book and songs that would have seemed unrelated. The way you explained it made everything all make sense! Great job! :)

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