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3 Main Character Playlists Inspired by Your Favorite Young Adult Novels

If there are two things that I love doing, it’s reading books that make me rethink things and making playlists that make me re-feel things. It helps me feel like I’m a part of the world, like I am real and functioning and purposeful. There are people and places beyond the ones that I know, and there are joys and problems there that I have yet to encounter. And I find comfort in that. 

Recently, I combined my interests to make playlists based on three books that I read this past month. I would highly recommend reading them all, but if you don’t feel like doing so, you can certainly use these playlists as a vessel to channel that main character energy. 

Looking for Alaska & strawberry hill wine

“If people were rain, I was a drizzle and she was a hurricane.” 

In Looking for Alaska by John Green, Alaska Young is both fire and ice. She’s mysterious and captivating, unpredictable and flirty. Miles is more stable — a bit shy, but always looking out for others and trying to do the right thing. He gains instant feelings for Alaska, but when he realizes that she has a boyfriend, he respects it. But it doesn’t mean these two still don’t have a few precious moments. This playlist is Alaska and Miles at their best, sharing Strawberry Hill wine (that Alaska bought with a fake ID) in the grass while the rest of Culver Creek has gone home for break. It is intimacy in its purest form, sharing words and thoughts and the beauty of the world. But maybe there’s something to be said for the unspoken words as well.

We Were Liars & summer fifteen

“We are liars. We are beautiful and privileged. We are cracked and broken.” 

E. Lockhart grants Cadence Eastman great privilege with her family’s wealthy status in We Were Liars, but she also addresses the consequences that can come with it. Cadence, or Cady, spends her summers on a private island in Massachusetts with her cousins, extended family, and their family friend, Gat — who Cady quickly falls for. There are plenty of good times, even a little bit of romance. But after an accident happened during summer fifteen, Cady can only recall what happened in small bits and pieces. To find out what really happened, you’ll have to read the novel yourself. For now, you can queue up this playlist starting with “Summertime Sadness” by Lana Del Ray. 

All the Bright Places & almost but not quite

“I should have done something. Was it my fault? Why wasn’t I enough? Come back. I love you. I’m sorry.”

Violet Markey, also known as Ultraviolet Remarkey-able, has trouble opening up to others in All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven. That is, until she meets Theodore Finch. While Finch is outwardly outgoing and even called a freak for acting outside of highschool norms, Violet is quiet and just trying to find her old self again, the person she was before her sister died. Violet grows into a habit of doing the bare minimum to get by, but Finch pushes her out of her comfort zone.

Maybe their love was broken, but it was love. 

It was a school project that turned into secret meetings, pebbles that were thrown against windows, and late-night drives that turned into sunrises. Caught up in so many fond memories, Violet wrestles with the question: if it was love, why wasn’t it enough? 

Oh, and as a bonus, you can also listen to my playlist holden caulfield type beat inspired by J.D. Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye. Because everyone needs an angsty playlist sometimes. 

No matter how you receive your stories, embrace thinking and feeling! And most of all, embrace finding a little bit of yourself in someone else. 

Sophia Apteker

U Mass Amherst '23

Sophia is the former editor-in-chief of the UMass Amherst chapter. She is double majoring in journalism and integrated marketing communication. When she's not laughing at her own jokes, she can be found curating niche Spotify playlists that make her feel like the main character.