Books that Rock: YA Fiction for Musicians and Music Lovers

I love music. Music, perhaps even more than books, brings people together. I love live music shows and bonding with friends over a shared love for bands. Music was so critical to me during my teen years, and there are so many amazing YA novels that capture that passion for music. These novels fall across all genres, from historical to fantasy, and feature all kinds of music, from classical to country to punk rock. This list is a sampling of YA fiction for musicians and music lovers, from new releases to older titles. 

Books that Rock: Stories about Music and Musicians YA fiction for musicians and music fans

The Scar Boys by Ben Vlahos
Goodreads | Amazon
A 250 word essay is not enough for Harry to do himself justice in his college entrance essay, so he just tells his life story, from the time he was tied to a tree and then struck by lightning, to when he was asked to form a band with a popular kid. This fresh, compelling story will resonate with readers who have ever felt scarred themselves.

Being Friends with Boys by Terra Elan McVoy
Goodreads | Amazon
Charlotte is content in the background, managing the band Sad Jackal and writing their song lyrics. When she’s pushed into singing with them at a performance, she really comes into her own. This novel about growing up, finding your place in your family, and navigating the tricky terrain between friendship and romance is a fun, feel-good read.

Wise Young Foul by Sean Beaudoin
Goodreads | Amazon
Sarcastic Ritchie is excited about his band, until he lands in a juvenile detention facility and is forced to confront his grief and family issues. This is a funny yet moving book that will be a hit with musicians.

Dirty Little Secret by Jennifer Echols
Goodreads | Amazon
Bailey just wants to play fiddle, but her parents have forbidden her from performing now that her sister is poised to be the next country music superstar. But when she meets Sam, who recognizes her talent and wants her in his band, she can’t resist playing – or him. This fun and steamy romance makes the Nashville music scenes come alive, and even readers who don’t love country will be rooting for Sam and Bailey.

Entangled by Amy Rose Capetta
Goodreads | Amazon
In the future, people still rock out on guitars. In this space adventure, Cade teams up with a gang of outlaws to find a boy who might be the key to curing humans of a debilitating illness — and to learning more about her own identity.

Sing No Evil by JP Ahonen
Goodreads | Amazon
This graphic novel about the leader of a heavy metal band who gets drawn into a supernatural battle is a character-driven story full of whimsy. The art style will appeal to fans of Amulet or Scott Pilgrim.

Sister Mischief by L. Goode
Goodreads | Amazon
Love and hip hop collide in this lesbian coming of age tale.

The True Adventures of Nicola Zen by Nicholas Christopher
Goodreads | Amazon
This historical fantasy about an orphan boy and his enchanted clarinet has plenty of twists and turns in the plot to keep readers engrossed in the story.

The Carnival at Bray by Jessie Ann Foley
Goodreads | Amazon
Maggie moves from Chicago, where she attends Smashing Pumpkin concerts with her 26-year-old uncle, to live in a small town outside Dublin, Ireland, when her mom remarries. A year in the seaside town brings a close friendship with her 99-year-old neighbor, first love, and a daring adventure to see Nirvana in Rome, the perfect grunge rock pilgrimage. But what really makes this novel stand out is the family dynamics. Maggie’s complicated relationship with her mother, sister, grandmother, and uncle are ones any teenager can relate to. With excellent writing and character development, it’s obvious why this debut novel was nominated for the Morris Award. This story will appeal to today’s teens as well as those who can read it for the nostalgia of the grunge rock 90s.

When the Stars Go Blue by Caridad Ferrer
Goodreads | Amazon
Soledad, a dancer, decides to audition to be part of a performing drum corps over the summer, and meets two guys who compete for her affection: a fellow corps member and a soccer player. This book is for fans of climatic, dramatic endings.

All Our Pretty Songs by Sarah McCarry
A retelling of the Orpheus myth in the grunge-rock era Pacific Northwest. The lush prose and haunting story is as strangely seductive as the music Jack plays, but the real core of this novel is the friendship between Aurora and the unnamed narrator.

The Vinyl Princess by Yvonne Prinz
Goodreads | Amazon
Allie may not play music, but she’s definitely obsessed with it — which is perfect, because she’s got a summer job working at a cool record store. Prinz draws on her own experience to write a fun coming-of-age story about mother-daughter relationships, first love, and above all, music.

The Disenchantments by Nina LaCour
Goodreads | Amazon
This exhilarating novel about bands touring the summer after graduation is the perfect blend of angst and drama.

Virtuosity by Jessica Martinez
Carmen wants nothing more than to win a prestigious violin competition, and is so stressed out by the pressure and her controlling mother, she struggles with anxiety. But when romance blossoms with fellow competitor Jeremy, she begins to see more to the world. This complex drama will appeal to fans of Gayle Forman’s IF I STAY.

Hidden Voices by Pat Lowery Collins
Goodreads | Amazon
History is full of music, too. This novel weaves together the stories of three orphans in Italy, and is perfect for readers who enjoy lush, historical settings.

Ballad: A Gathering of Faerie by Maggie Stiefvater
Goodreads | Amazon
This is the story of a musical prodigy whose talents attract the attention of a Fairy who feeds on creative talent, told in Maggie Stiefvater’s signature witty yet lyrical style.    

Do you have a favorite YA novel about music that isn’t mentioned here? Leave a note in the comments! 

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7 thoughts on “Books that Rock: YA Fiction for Musicians and Music Lovers

  1. This Song Will Save Your Life is a great book for music lovers! There’s even a couple pages of playlists at the end that the main character, a DJ, would recommend.

  2. This is such a fun list–I’m definitely passing it on to my music obsessed BFF who reads YA. I’d also suggest Take a Bow by Elizabeth Eulberg, Struts & Frets by Jon Skovron, Rock God: The Legend of BJ Levine by Barnabas Miller and anything by Kevin Emerson. Possibly The Piper’s Son by Melina Marchetta although I do have mixed feelings about recommending a companion sequel.

    1. Thanks for the additions! Once I started compiling there were SO MANY and so I just tried to select a variety/diversity of titles. But honestly the list could have been twice as long.

I'd love to hear your thoughts.

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