A rock 'n' roll soundtrack gets teenagers through their ups, their downs and their angsts. It may evolve from classic rock to grunge to emo to pop to punk and beyond, but it's a lasting, rebellious fixture. So it should come as no surprise that novels for young adults are as steeped in rock 'n' roll as teenagers themselves.
Cecil Castellucci, author of five books, including the rock novel "Beige," picks novels with characters whose lives are changed by (turn that down!) music. In alpha order:
"Audrey, Wait!" by Robin Benway
When Audrey breaks up with her musician boyfriend, he ends up writing a song about her that becomes an instant hit. Suddenly Audrey is notorious, and everyone has an opinion about her. But do they want to know the real story behind the song?
"Born to Rock" by Gordon Korman
Leo is a strait-laced honor student and Young Republican. Everything goes topsy turvy when he finds out that the guy he thought was his dad, isn't; his real father is the lead singer for Purge, the most famous punk band ever. Leo gets a summer job working as a roadie and gets to know his dad and learns something about himself along the way.
"Fat Kid Rules the World" by K.L. Going
Troy is a fat kid who doesn't have any friends, just can't take it anymore and decides to end it all. But high school music legend Curt McCrae steps in, and everything changes. Curt sees something in Troy no one else sees; even though Troy can't drum, Curt thinks Troy should be the drummer for his new band. It's funny how when someone starts seeing something special in you, you start seeing yourself in a different way too.
"Heavy Metal and You" by Christopher Krovatin
Sam loves heavy metal music. He's smarty-pants enough to attend an all-boy prep school in New York City, and he hangs out with his friends. But when Sam starts to date straight-edge Melissa, he tries to change himself. Nothing stays the same forever, though; music is always there to get you through.
"I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone" by Stephanie Kuehnert
Emily is punk rock. She was born punk rock. Her mother split when she was little to follow a band, and her dad gave up music to raise her on his own. Now she has her own band that's hitting it big. But everything is messy, and things rise high and swing low. And Emily's looking for the song that's going to bring it all back together, with love.
"King Dork" by Frank Portman
When Tom Henderson (a.k.a. King Dork) discovers a copy of "The Catcher in the Rye" that belonged to his dead father, his whole world changes. Clues and conspiracies seem to be leading to answer the puzzle of his father's death while helping to figure out the secret to attracting hot girls.