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There are many YA books that contain music. This can be the theme of the book or a theme within the book. It could also be what introduces each chapter, or a playlist that comes at the end of the book, or as a bonus feature as part of the book’s marketing campaign. And then there’s my absolute favorite way we get music in YA books: through their titles. Welcome to another annual YA book title catchy tune, this time for 2023.
If you’re scratching your head about what a catchy tune is, I promise you know what it is. It’s that song that gets stuck in your head and won’t come out. I remember a summer camp legend saying that whatever your current catchy tune is, you can get it out by singing “It’s a Small World” to yourself… knowing it will become a catchy tune in its own right (and You’ll fall in once you sing this to yourself). this Groundhog Day-esque loop).
I’ve been highlighting these YA book title catchy tunes for half a decade now and I love how they tell a few stories. They highlight nostalgia, they highlight contemporary interests, and they can sometimes even identify a song that is unexpectedly defining. Let’s take a look at what 2023 YA book titles have in store for us as soundtracks this year, noting that this list is by default incomplete as we don’t yet know every book hitting shelves in the coming year. In some cases the song and book titles are the same and in some cases part of the song’s chorus is used as the book title. The song can have absolutely nothing to do with the book or the story or its inspiration…or it could be central to it.
You get the book, its description and of course the accompanying song.
As You Walk On By by Julian Winters (01/17/23)
The Breakfast Club will be a theme in 2023, as Winters’ book isn’t the only one on this list that takes inspiration from ’80s classics — and is a catchy tune.
Seventeen-year-old Theo thinks he has everything under control for the future. But for now? Desperate to have the best prom ever, he plans to epic propose to his crush at a party. When things go horribly wrong, Theo hides in a room above where the party is taking place. One by one, classmates come in looking to avoid something, and maybe Theo will find out he’s not as lonely as he fears.
Apparently the song for it is “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” by Simple Minds
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Every Time You Walk Away by Abigail Johnson (12/5/23)
Ethan and Rebecca have been in and out of each other’s lives for years. When Ethan’s mother’s addiction worsens, he goes to live with his grandparents, who are Rebecca’s neighbors. There was always something between them.
It’s been three years since Ethan last stayed with his grandparents, and he’s taken on a role as his mother’s caretaker – something he sees this time with his grandparents tear him away from. Rebecca suffers from the sudden loss of her father in a car accident, where she learned how to become a wheelchair user.
Is the time right now? Or has her life changed too much for love?
You’re singing “Everytime You Go Away” by Paul Young.
Friday I’m in Love by Camryn Garrett (1/10/23)
Mahalia Harris wants big. She’s itching for a party, something like her best friend’s outrageously sweet 16. But it’s too late for that…what if she throws an over-the-top coming out party instead (and maybe even catches the attention of her crush Siobhan). )?
If you love romcoms, hardworking characters, and queer love, you’ve got a win here.
The Cure has Gotchu, friends.
Girls Like Girls by Hayley Kiyoko (5/30/23)
Is it cheating to add a book based on a song by the person who wrote the song? I don’t even care. There is no cover for Kiyoko’s debut YA novel yet.
Coley lives in rural Oregon after relocating after the sudden death of her mother. She is fragile, alone and sad. As much as she’s instantly attracted to Sonya, Coley is too worried that she’s not ready for love.
Even Sonya, who has never been with a girl, is nervous. Can the two overcome their fears and allow themselves to feel something real and true?
Made of Stars by Jenna Voris (3/28/23)
Looking for a Bonnie and Clyde-inspired title? Please.
Shane and Ava are a crime duo. He stole a plane and she used her charm to survive. But when Shane is caught, jailed and then manages to escape, he’s ready to take on her biggest job.
Cyrus, fresh in the role of reporter for the general after-flight academy, is in the process of catching Shane. It would be a great advantage for him, except for being distracted by Ava.
Armed with the knowledge of a plan to destroy his and Ava’s home, Shane knows they must fend off Cyrus and his military leaders. Now the operations – and robberies – are in full swing.
Now you have some We Are All Made of Stars by Moby. I don’t think it fits the mood of the book, but it does share a common title!
Make the Fireflies Dance by Rachel Bateman (05/16/23)
Quincy is kissed by a guy in a dark movie theater, setting her hopelessly romantic heart on fire. Problem? She has no idea who it was. Her friends come to her aid and suggest that she meet every man who was at the theater that night. Blind dates, to be more precise. Where Quincy imagined the perfect end to senior year at the prom, this experiment doesn’t let her find the mystery kisser.
But maybe that doesn’t matter since she’s starting to fall in love with someone she’s not trying to find.
“Kiss Me” by Sixpence None The Richer was the song for all my middle school dances and it kind of hurts me to say that this song came out in 1997. Today’s teenagers were born long after that.
Pieces of Me by Kate McLaughlin (4/18/23)
When Dylan wakes up in an apartment she doesn’t recognize, surrounded by people she doesn’t recognize even though her mind thinks everything is fine, she starts to freak out.
It turns out that Dylan has been missing for three days.
This is a raw and powerful look at dissociative identity disorder and how it affects those who experience it.
It’s probably not in the same tone or tenor as the book, but this book certainly gets Ashlee Simpson’s “Pieces of Me” spinning.
What a Desi Girl Wants by Sabina Khan (07/18/23)
Mehar and her mother moved to the US from India when she was 4 years old and Mehar has not returned since. Her estranged father is now remarrying and Mehar (reluctantly) agrees to attend the wedding. It might help her find closure in her broken relationship.
It doesn’t, not really, although it introduces Mehar to her grandmother’s assistant, Sufiya, and the two might catch some mutual feelings.
However, things get much more complicated when Mehar realizes that her father’s new wife and stepdaughter are using him for money and she confronts him about it.
It’s not a perfect match, of course, but Christina Aguilera’s “What a Girl Wants” immediately springs to mind.
If You Wish On A Star by Elizabeth Lim (4/4/23)
Is this one too easy? Yes. This book is part of Disney’s popular Twisted Tales series.
If you’re looking for a twist on Pinocchio, then you’ll want Lim’s story of The Blue Fairy on your TBR.
With or Without You by Eric Smith (2023)
There is no date yet for the next Eric Smith book, but it is planned for autumn next year. It’s the story of two teenagers whose families run rival cheesesteak shops in South Philadelphia. However, the rivalry is a ploy to boost sales. So when a reality TV show gets the story, the two teens not only have to play along… but pretend they’re not falling in love.
Could the title better sum up the story sung by U2?