I read quite a few books that included musical references, but books with characters who play, compose, and live for their sound were more rare. There was another that could have easily been included – Kissing Ted Callaghan, and the reason PS I like You got the nod is that it is actually published in 2016, where the Amy Spalding book was initially released in 2015, but Australia only got it this year. A technicality, but it’s something to make the choice clear (if not easier).
P.S. I Like You by Kasie West (July 2016)
Kasie West is building a reputation for strong romance novel, covering serious issues in light yet thoughtful ways. The love story is naturally most prominent, but the plot needs more, and this one starts out with song lyrics, builds to a mysterious pen pal, and while Lily tries to trust her heart, she also deals with stage fright, and a lack of self-belief in her song writing ability. It’s fun and flirty,and there’s family, and friendship drama, and great messages about positive relationships, honesty, and being true to yourself.
Freedom’s Just Another Word by Caroline Stellings (September 2016)
This could have slotted into the historical category, but Easy’s voice, her determination to make it as a blues singer is a stronger plotline than the 1970s setting. It could have also slotted easily into the diversity category (man, this book had me hopping!), because Easy’s positive bi-racial representation is fabulous. But when Janis Joplin makes an appearance, and encourages Easy to follow her dreams, well, that seals the deal. It’s a book about music, about being brave and taking risks (and road trips!). My full review is here.
We are Still Tornadoes by Michael Kun and Susan Muller (November 2016)
Another story set in the not-too-distant past, well okay the ’80s, where we meet Scott and Cath, friends from childhood, separated when she leaves to attend College, and Scott doesn’t. The story is told through their letters back and forth (hence setting it before the Internet), as Cath tries to navigate her first year away from home, some shocking news about her parents’ marriage, and of course, missing Scott, who feels left behind. His music and the band he forms keeps him from falling into a deep slump. It also provides a vibrant soundtrack for a bittersweet, slow burn friendship-into-romance novel.
On Friday, I want to highlight three books that encompasses diversity.