It's time for another Music Meets YA post, this time featuring one of my all time favorite artists, Halsey and her latest album Manic. Halsey is an incredible artist whose lyrics are always so honest, vulnerable and relatable, especially on Manic. She also puts on an incredible live show. I wanted to spotlight the album and some lovely books that came to mind when I thought of the songs. I love writing these music mash up posts so much, and I'm glad that you've been so receptive to them. If any of these books looks irresistible or you want to find out more, I've linked my review in the title and added buy links to my affiliate Bookshop. This just means that I might get a small commission at no cost to you to help support the blog if you choose to get your copy from there.
Also, it's worth noting that Halsey has her own book coming out in November that I can't wait for! It's a poetry book brilliantly titled I Would Leave Me If I Could. From the bits and pieces Halsey has shared, I'm so excited about its release. If you want to learn more about it, I'll link to it here. Down below, I'll have links to listen to Manic if you haven't heard it yet and to my music blog if you want to read more of my writing on Halsey. Let's get into it!
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This book has one of the best looks into bipolar disorder that I've found in YA. Halsey lives with bipolar and is a very vocal advocate for mental health awareness (you can read more about that here) which is one of the reasons I love her so much. In the book, Mel is trying to navigate her new diagnosis and figure out what it means to her and to her family members who also have biploar. It's a lot of consider when you're also a teen coming of age in your own right.
In the album, Halsey explores both her life in relation to bipolar. I feel like "Ashely" represents a similar self reflection to what Mel goes through. At times, the path forward is uncertain, but there is a way through.
"Who will fill the empty space? So..."
Nothing Left to Burn (Without Me)
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"Without Me" centers around a toxic relationship, and I don't think I've found a more toxic couple than Brooks and Audrey. As a wildfire rages through their California neighborhood, Audrey starts to realize that she might know who's responsible. And he's ready to drag her down with him.
"Took it so far to keep you close/I was afraid to leave you on your own"
Girl In Pieces (Still Learning)
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Tiger has had a rough life up to being admitted to mental health treatment center of her local hospital. The hospital offers a sense of safety and stability she's never been afforded. Everyone in this book has spent so much time just trying to survive that they've developed a slew of harmful coping mechanisms and a void where self worth belongs.
Halsey talks about the long journey that we're all on to self love in "Still Learning". She also delves into the fact that we never stop learning and evolving through each phase of life.
"And no one around me knows/Who I am, what I'm on/Who I've hurt and where they've gone/I know that I've done some wrong/But I'm trying to make it right"
As Many Nows As I Can Get (Suga's Interlude)
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Scarlett's life hasn't been the most stable. She went through a lot senior year of high school, and it manages to bleed into her freshman year at college. Her life is defined by many choices that feel like universe splits. You could go left or right and they would lead to two totally different lives. She has a lot on her plate that is definitely overwhelming and frustrating.
"SUGA's Interlude", even though I can only understand the chorus, encapsulates the feeling so well. I also find the song really soothing and comforting. It doesn't get enough credit on the album or as a single. It was also my first introduction to anything K-Pop. Halsey understands what it's like to make an impossible choice, and she articulates it magnificently in both her lyrics and delivery.
"I've been trying all my life/To separate the time/In between the having it all and giving it up"
The Art of Breaking Things (929)
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Skye has been through a lot. She's faced abuse and found dangerous coping mechanisms to try to deal with the PTSD that still follows her. Over the course of The Art of Breaking Things, Skye is forced to confront her past again when her abuser comes back into her life. She realizes that she doesn't want to continue using drugs and alcohol to forget, and she forms a new support system to try to find the stability and safety she craves.
"929" echoes many similar sentiments about moving forward and coping with past trauma. Both the book and the song ooze honest vulnerability. They both share a desire to get better, but it's also hard and confusing to know how to move forward.
"I've got a long way to go until self-preservation/Think my moral compass is on a vacation/And I can't believe I still feed my fucking temptation/And I'm still looking for my salvation"
He Must Like You (Nightmare)
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I have a feeling Libby would love "Nightmare". The song is all about standing up for yourself and not letting society (or men for that matter) dictate what you can or should do. Libby is such a fierce character and stands up against the harassment she faces. While the book has a bit of a lighter tone than the song, they both have the same fire in their soul.
""Come on, little lady, give us a smile"/No, I ain't got nothin' to smile about/I got no one to smile for, I waited a while for/A moment to say I don't owe you a goddamn thing"
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