13 YA Books That Will Speak To Anyone Who's Dreamed Of Being A Musical Star

by Kerri Jarema

If you were anything like me as a small child, you harbored daydreams of celebrity stardom. What with actors like the Olsen twins and many other Nickelodeon and Disney Channel stars being my main sources of entertainment from the ages of five to 11, it was probably to be expected that I would frequently imagine myself being one of them. And believe me, I was just about theatrical (or, ahem, dramatic) enough for the imaginary part. Now, many years after all of my poorly attended living room concerts where I smashed soundtracks full of Disney songs, it's pretty clear that childhood stardom wasn't for me.

But that doesn't mean I still don't love to read about all of the musical glory and drama I missed out on. The 13 YA books below all dive into the triumphs and tragedies of making it big on the music scene. Some follow bands, others solo acts, but all dive into what it truly means to "make it" at a young age — and how fame affects everything from love to friendship and even perception of self. If you're looking for the best way to get behind the scenes of the music industry without stepping on the stage yourself, add these to your TBR.

'Let Me Hear a Rhyme' by Tiffany D. Jackson (May 21, 2019)

Let Me Hear a Rhyme, set in Brooklyn in 1998, follows two teenage boys who plot to turn their murdered friend into a major rap star by pretending he is still alive, all while dealing with the fallout of the truth behind his death.

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'On The Come Up' by Angie Thomas (Feb. 5, 2019)

Sixteen-year-old Bri wants to be one of the greatest rappers of all time. As the daughter of an underground rap legend who died before he hit big, Bri’s got big shoes to fill. But now that her mom has unexpectedly lost her job, bills are piling up and homelessness is staring her family down, Bri no longer just wants to make it — she has to make it.

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'Fireworks' by Katie Cotugno

Everything changes for best friends Dana and Olivia when they're discovered by producer Guy Monroe, who is holding auditions for a new girl group. It should be a dream come true, but as the grueling practices and constant competition take their toll, things between Dana and Olivia start to shift...and there’s only room at the top for one girl.

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'Grace and the Fever' by Zan Romanoff

One summer night, the unthinkable happens: Grace meets her idol, Fever Dream member, Jes. What starts out as an elusive glimpse of Fever Dream's world turns into an unlikely romance, and leads her to confront dark, complex truths about herself and the realities of stardom.

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'Sing' by Vivi Greene

After getting her heart broken, pop icon Lily Ross takes herself out of the spotlight and heads to middle-of-nowhere Maine. She has three months until her fall tour starts — a summer to focus on herself. That is, until she meets sweet local Noel Bradley. But Noel isn’t interested in the limelight. And come August, she may be forced to choose.

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'Noteworthy' by Riley Redgate

When Jordan Sun's low Alto 2 voices gets her shut out of the school musical, she’s forced to consider a really nontraditional option, because a spot has opened up in the Sharpshooters, the elite all male a cappella octet. Jordan auditions in her most convincing drag, and it turns out that she is exactly what the Sharps are looking for.

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'The Disenchantments' by Nina LaCour

Colby and Bev have a long-standing pact: graduate, hit the road with Bev's band, The Disenchantments, and then spend the year wandering around Europe. But moments after the tour kicks off, Bev makes a shocking announcement: she's abandoning their plans — and Colby — to start college in the fall.

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'For the Record' by Charlotte Huang

As the lead singer of the band Melbourne, Chelsea is performing in sold-out clubs every night and living on a tour bus. The bummer is that the band barely tolerates her. And she only has the summer tour to change their minds, and to keep up with the paparazzi and grueling schedule, or she'll be back in Michigan for senior year.

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'The Victoria In My Head' by Janelle Milanes

Unable to overcome her stage fright, Victoria Cruz hides her dreams of stardom from everyone, including her overprotective Cuban parents. But after a chance encounter with a boy named Strand, whose band seeks a lead singer, Victoria is tempted to turn her daydreams into reality. To do that, she must break away from the treadmill that is her life.

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'Open Road Summer' by Emery Lord

After breaking up with her boyfriend, Reagan is ready for a new adventure. Luckily her best friend, country superstar Lilah Montgomery, is about to head off on a 24-city tour. This summer, Reagan and Lilah will navigate the ups and downs of fame, love and friendship.

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'Wildflower' by Alecia Whitaker

Sixteen-year-old Bird Barrett has grown up on the road, singing backup in her family's band. But the night Bird fills in for her dad as lead singer, a scout is in the audience. Soon she's is caught up in a whirlwind of recording sessions, video shoots, fans, and paparazzi. Can she break out while staying true to her roots?

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'The Midnights' by Sarah Nicole Smetana

Susannah Hayes has dreams of following her rock star father onto the stage. But when he dies unexpectedly, her dreams shatter. When her mother uproots them to a new city, Susannah reinvents herself as a confident singer-songwriter. But she's not the only one keeping secrets, and harsh revelations threaten to unravel her life once again.

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'Adios To My Old Life' by Caridad Ferrer

When Alegría Montero wins a spot on Oye Mi Canto, a reality TV show that's searching for the next Latin superstar, she's thrown into a world of wardrobe fittings, cameras, reporters, vocal coaches, and websites designed by lovestruck fanboys — all while dealing with jealousy and sabotage among the contestants. Is "making it" really worth it?

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