Pairing Music with YA Lit: “My True Love Gave to Me” Edition (Part 2)

Back in December I posted musical pairings for the first six stories of My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories edited by Stephanie Perkins in which YA authors illustrate how the holidays can be a time of first love, caring, and sometimes even a little magic.  As promised, here are songs paired with the last six stories in the collection.

my true love gave to me

“Krampuslauf” by Holly Black

Summary: At Fairmount’s annual Krampuslauf, an unnamed narrator and her friends, Penny and Wren, decide to confront Roth.  Roth is a “rich kid” who moonlights with Penny even though he already has a girlfriend.  Wren and the main character have had enough of him using their friend.  But when they confront Roth, impulsive Wren ends up inviting him and his preppy friends to a New Year’s Eve party.  And now the girls need to scramble to put one together.

Musical Pairing:  While the main character does find some romance toward the end of the story, more emphasis seems to be on Penny and Roth’s “relationship.”  As such, I chose “Looking Too Closely” by Fink for this short story, because Penny refuses to see Roth’s wrongdoings (The devil’s right there, right there in the details/ And you don’t wanna hurt yourself, hurt yourself/ By looking too closely) and (The truth is like blood underneath your fingernails/ You don’t wanna hurt yourself, hurt yourself/ By looking too closely).  Another great pairing would be “Ghost” by Ella Henderson–especially because Penny can’t see the evidence of Roth’s other, real relationship until it’s right in front of her (I had to go through hell to prove I’m not insane/ Had to meet the devil just to know his name).


“What the Hell Have you Done Sophie Roth?” by Gayle Forman

Summary: Sophie Roth has had many “what have you done?” moments as a freshman at U of B (let’s just say it stands for University of “the middle of nowhere”).  As a city girl she stands out in this tiny college in the middle of the country.  In fact she is half expecting Ned Flanders to show himself. But at a Christmas caroling concert, she meets someone who also stands out–Russell.  Russell shares with her the best pie out of town (apple pie with cheddar cheese) and helps her celebrate something she’s missing this holiday at U of B–Hannakah.

Musical Pairing:  Though I’m tempted to pair “Blue Moon” by the Marcels (or another 50’s song that might be a U of B favorite) with this short story, I’m more inclined to pairing it with The Simpsons theme song because Sophie and Russell get together over a shared Ned Flanders joke.


“Beer Buckets and Baby Jesus” by Myra McEntire

Summary: Vaughn is the stereotypical class clown/bad kid.  The kind of kid who covers the class rabbit in paste and glitter.  Not that he means to be bad–it just happens.  Years later, as a teen, he accidentally sets the church on fire, destroying all of the pageant props, costumes and the facility itself.  His community service?  Figure out how to keep the pageant going.  But at least he gets to hang out with the Preacher’s daughter, Gracie.

Musical Pairing: When I read this short story, I had a Breakfast Club moment.  Vaughn is misunderstood and rough-around-the-edges; Gracie is the picture perfect preacher’s daughter… or is she? So my song pairing for Beer Buckets and Baby Jesus is: “Don’t You Forget About Me” by Simple Minds.


“Welcome to Christmas, CA” by Keirsten White

Summary: Maria lives in Christmas, California.  Not even a real city or town, just a census designated place.  Every day is pretty much the same.  Her mom’s boyfriend drives her to and from school (a 45 minute drive one way).  Then a shift at her mom’s diner, saving every penny to escape the small “census designated place.” But after their cook dies, a new face appears in Christmas: Ben.  And he completely changes the diner’s food, it’s customers… and, of course, Maria’s outlook on Christmas.

Musical Pairing: Maria is always looking for “home.”  She doesn’t really know what that even means until Ben, through his amazing cooking powers, shows her.  The song that immediately struck me was “Feels Like Home” by Chantal Kreviazuk (And if you knew how I wanted someone to come along/ And change my life the way you’ve done/ It feels like home to me, it feels like home to me).


“Star of Bethlehem” by Ally Carter

Summary: Fate smiles on Lydia when an Icelandic girl named Hulda needs a ticket to New York.  Lydia quickly switches the tickets not caring where Hulda was really going–turns out: the middle of nowhere.  Perfect.  Lydia slips into Hulda’s life; only Hulda’s pretend boyfriend Ethan, knows that she isn’t the Icelandic girl.  But when Lydia’s secret gets out, she finds that she has a family, and a home, in the small town of Bethlehem.

Musical Pairing: Lydia lets her secret be known through her talent: by singing “O Holy Night” at church.  So my pairings for this short story are “O Holy Night” (the N*Sync a cappella version) and also be “Sing” by Travis (But if you sing, sing, sing, sing, sing, sing/ For the love you bring won’t mean a thing/ Unless you sing, sing, sing, sing).

“The Girl Who Woke the Dreamer” by Laini Taylor

Summary: The Isle of Feathers has a tradition: girls are courted during Advent by suitors leaving small gifts for them on each of the twenty-four days.  Neve is all alone, her best friends having died the year before, but she wants no courtship (even if it would bring her out of poverty).  Unfortunately the evil preacher has his eyes set on her, and won’t let her refuse the courtship. Neve does the only thing she can think: she whispers into the night air… and the Dreamer hears her plea.

Musical Pairing: There is a theme of loneliness throughout this story, so I chose “All by Myself” by Eric Carmen–or Celine Dion if you prefer that version (Hard to be sure/ Sometimes I feel so insecure And love so distant and obscure/ Remains the cure).

Of course, not all of us hear music the same way, just as not all of us see the books we read the same way, so this is my interpretation.  What songs would you pair with these stories?

— Stacy Holbrook, currently reading Undertow by Michael Buckley