Pairing Music with YA Lit: “Jennifer E. Smith” edition

February and romance go hand in hand like February and below zero temperatures–at least in New England (well, maybe not this winter).  So for this edition, I chose to pair music with books by Jennifer E. Smith.  Smith’s books feature romance, and often focus on fate, serendipity, and… the spark, the instant connection, that pulls two people together.  

hello goodbye and everything in betweenHello, Goodbye and Everything in Between (2015)

Summary: On the last night before they head off to college, Clare and Aidan have to decide whether they will try to make a long distance relationship work (possibly delaying the inevitable) or choose break up (on their own terms).  The two spend the night reliving some of the important events of their relationship, keeping their memories close as they get ready to head off to different parts of the country.

Pairing: Hello, Goodbye and Everything in Between shows the manys ups and downs of a relationship–and that true love, lasting love, is not always an easy path.  Because of this I chose “Book of Love” by The Magnetic Fields.  (The book of love is long and boring/ And written very long ago/ It’s full of flowers and heart-shaped boxes/ And things we’re all too young to know).  This is a great song about the endurance of love, just like the novel.


geography of me and youThe Geography of You and Me (2014)


Summary: Lucy and Owen are from two different worlds living in the same building.  Lucy, a native New Yorker, lives on the 24th floor, while Owen, having just moved from Pennsylvania, lives in the basement with his dad.  The two become trapped in the elevator during a citywide blackout and continue to develop a connection through the night, long after being rescued.  This connection to follows them as they part ways, Lucy to Europe and Owen to the Pacific Northwest, and they find that it isn’t always a place that feels like home, but a person.


Pairing:  I’m pairing this book with “Who am I?”  by Vance Joy.  As soon as they meet, Lucy and Owen’s connection can’t be shaken (And I’ve got this heaviness in my chest/ Since your love came breaking through) and neither knows much about the other (And there’s no need for us/ Knowing all the answers yet) they just know it feels right to be together.

This Is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. SmithThis is What Happy Looks Like (2013)


Summary: Graham and Ellie live on two different sides of the country.  Graham is a movie star that lives in California with his pet pig, Wilbur.  Ellie lives in a small town in Maine with a secret that she can’t even share with her best friend.  A mistyped email brings them together as Graham convinces the producers of his new movie to shoot the film in Ellie’s town.  But with Paparazzi always lurking around Graham, Ellie is afraid to get too close and have her secret exposed.


Pairing:  More for the song title than the lyrics, I chose “Paparazzi” by Lady Gaga because the photographers are one of the biggest barriers between Ellie and Graham.



 Statistatistical probability of love at first sightstical Probability of Love at First Sight (2012)


Summary: Hadley is on her way to England to be in her father’s second wedding–and she is dreading it.  So much so that she procrastinates and misses her flight.  Stuck at JFK, she meets Oliver, who serendipitously ends up sitting near Hadley on her new flight overseas.  


Pairing: Because this book shows how quickly two people can fall in love, I chose “Falling in Love at a Coffee Shop” by Landon Pigg as the musical pairing for this novel. (I think that possibly, maybe I’m falling for you/Yes, there’s a chance that I’ve fallen quite hard over you).



Of course, not all of us hear music the same way, just as not all of us interpret the books we read the same way.  So what songs might you pair with these novels?  


— Stacy Holbrook, currently reading Heart of Betrayal by Mary E. Pearson


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