“BRIGHTSIDE” – 100 Days of Sunlight by Abbie Emmons
The Lumineers’ title track for their new album–BRIGHTSIDE–promises a future full of hope and life in light of the events unfolding in our world. In Emmons’ 100 Days of Sunlight, Tessa loses her eyesight for 100 days after a devastating car accident. To help her adjust to her new life, Tessa’s grandparents hire a young typist–Weston–to help her continue her blogging. Little does she know that Weston’s experience with a disability might be the one thing to keep her sane and learn to live again.
Lyric: “Sun is coming up ahead \ Get your crack in the windshield shine \ And the light in your eyes.”
Quote: “I don’t have my old sight back; instead, it’s as if I have brand-new eyes–eyes that see things I’ve never noticed before. It takes one hundred days of darkness to appreciate what a miracle it is to see. Shadows and light and texture and colors…”
“A.M. RADIO” – The Two Lives of Lydia Bird by Josie Silver
This song, at its core, is about finding oneself. It’s about growth and destiny and accepting that every day is a new day and a new opportunity. Lydia Bird’s boyfriend of 10 years–Freddie–dies unexpectedly in a car accident. When things can’t seemingly get worse for the heartbroken mess of a woman, something impossible happens: she gets a second chance at a life with Freddie. What happens when she gets to live two lives at once?
Lyric: “Long as you run \ I couldn’t give you up.”
Quote: “Time changes everything in the end, Freddie, and I’ve realized now that that’s okay because what we have is more than just here, or just now. You and me, we’re all the time, and we’re always, and we’re everywhere. If I live a million lifetimes, I’ll find you in all of them, Freddie Hunter.”
“WHERE WE ARE” – The Midnight Library by Matt Haig
Another song inspired by current events, WHERE WE ARE gives us a sense of understanding and appreciation that somewhere, someone is feeling just as lost, just as confused, worried, and stressed as the rest of us. When Nora reflects on her past, all she can see are her mistakes, regrets, and roads not taken. No one–not her brother, her neighbor, or her boss can understand the way she feels. Suddenly given a chance to choose any of her seemingly infinite possible lives, will she find her perfect future?
Lyric: “I don’t know where we are, but it will be okay.”
Quote: “We only need to be one person. We only need to feel one existence. We don’t have to do everything to be everything, because we are already infinite. While we are alive we always contain a future of multifarious possibility.”
“BIRTHDAY” – An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir
BIRTHDAY is a song about a feeling I’m sure we’ve all experienced within the past few years–that feeling of realizing that life didn’t just stop just because our day-to-day existences look a little different than we remember. We still have work and school. Babies are being born, and there’s still war, famine, and poverty. Extraordinary circumstances mix with the ordinary lives of Elias and Laia in An Ember in the Ashes when they are swept up in the revolution against the tyrannical Empire and the resulting war between human and supernatural beings.
Lyric: “You and me will always be the ones to hang around \ I can see the loneliness you keep out of sight.”
Quote: ‘It will get better. You’ll never forget them, not even after years. But one day, you’ll go a whole minute without feeling the pain. Then an hour. A day. That’s all you can ask for, really.’ His voice drops. ‘You’ll heal, I promise.’”
“BIG SHOT” – The Kingdom of Back by Marie Lu
Nannerl Mozart dreams of becoming an acclaimed composer, but as a woman living in the 18th century, her work is ignored and her talent suppressed. Instead, Nannerl watches as her younger brother, Wolfgang, is handed the spotlight she always wanted. When approached with an offer by a stranger with magical abilities, Nannerl may finally get the chance to be the “big shot” she always believed she could be.
Lyric: “You want to be a big shot \ You wanna be the big man.”
Quote: “I am composing my own music. It is mine, from my hand alone. I wrote it for myself, and I wanted to share it with you. Do you see me?”
“NEVER REALLY MINE” – November 9 by Colleen Hoover
This song revolves around the acceptance that typically comes at the end of a relationship. After all the time, energy, and emotion invested in a relationship, it’s sometimes a shock to be able to sum up one’s thoughts and feelings in something as simple as words or a song. After crashing into each other’s lives, Ben and Fallon continue to meet on November 9th of every year, slowly but surely earning an important place in the other’s heart. But what happens when their individual lives invade their perfect bubble? Will they be able to survive the truth of their relationship?
Lyric: “All of a sudden you’re fallin’ out of frame \ I was lookin’ through the camera, you’re lookin’ for a way out.”
Quote: “It took four years for me to fall in love with him. It only took four pages to stop.”
“ROLLERCOASTER” – Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid
ROLLERCOASTER focuses specifically on how we impact each others’ lives. How we can tear each other down and build each other up depending on our mood, circumstance, or status. In this rollercoaster of a book, famous Rivas siblings will throw their annual end-of-summer party where secrets will spill, boundaries will crack, and the bond between these four siblings might just break. Are they strong enough to survive the impact that generations of Rivas’ have left on them?
Lyric: “Everyone was wrong \ They were on the ledge \ Everyone was only dyin’ to live”
Quote: “Instead, Nina Riva stood on the edge of the cliff she’d never wanted, and looked out onto the water she wished was closer, and for the first time in her quiet life, screamed into the wind.”
“REMINGTON” – The Atlas Six by Olivie Blake
After living through such dark–and at times, hopeless–circumstances over the past few years, REMINGTON describes perfectly the last-ditch hope for something or someone to save us all. In The Atlas Six, six extraordinarily gifted magicians are promised everything they could ever dream of having and achieving in their lives by joining the top-secret Alexandrian Society. The catch? Only five of the recruits will be initiated at the end of the year.
Lyric: “Hey Mr. Remington, promise us everything.”
Quote: “We are all too powerful, too extraordinary, and don’t you see it’s because we’re riddled with vacancies? We are empty and trying to fill, lighting ourselves on fire just to prove that we are normal–that we are ordinary. That we, like anything, can burn.”
“REPRISE” – A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara
REPRISE concludes the album perfectly by letting each listener interpret the lyrics in either a positive or negative light. Perspective is an important theme in this novel as well. Following four college classmates as they grow up in the years after graduation, A Little Life details the struggles they face in their relationships and careers. As they stumble through life together, their friendship will be tested as they learn how to live in a world influenced by love and discrimination and the perspectives of strangers, friends, deities, and many more.
Lyric: “I’m headed for the lights \ I’m headed for the Brightside, baby, tonight.”
Quote: “He would be hurt again and again–everyone was–but if he was going to try, if he was going to be alive, he had to be tougher, he had to prepare himself, he had to accept that this was part of the bargain of life itself.”