by KB Meniado
“I slipped from the edge and I’ve fallen
Should have heeded the warning
Do not cross the yellow line
But it’s not too late
And there’s no brake
And I’m falling
And you had no warning”
“Slipstream” by Trainman, from Songs of Our Breakup (Playlist #1)
There is a warning, all right. It says so in the titles—Songs of Our Breakup and Songs to Get Over You—and yet, I proceeded without caution, fell off the edge and crashed into some solid goodness of music, feelings… and *gulp* band members?? But that’s only scratching the surface. Jay E. Tria’s Playlist series has way more beyond the yellow line.
Every breakup has its playlist.
How do you get over a seven-year relationship? 21-year-old Jill is trying to find out. But moving on is a harder job when Kim, her ex-boyfriend, is the lead guitarist of the band, and Jill is the vocalist. Every song they play together feels like slicing open a barely healed tattoo.
Jill’s best friend Miki says she will be out of this gloom soon. Breakups have a probation period, he says. Jill is on the last month of hers and Miki is patiently keeping her company.
But the real silver lining is Shinta. Having a hot Japanese actor friend in times like these is a welcome distraction. This gorgeous celebrity has been defying time zones and distance through the years to be there for Jill. Now he is here, physically present, and together he and Jill go through old lyrics, vivid memories, walks in the rain, and bottles of beer. Together they try to answer the question: what do you do when forever ends? Read reviews: Goodreads
It’s harder to get over someone who was never really yours.
They say rock stars get all the girls. But Miki knows that’s not always true. He, for one, though the guitarist of popular indie band Trainman, just can’t seem to get the girl. It’s kind of his fault, really. No one told him to fall in love with Jill. No one told him to stand still and watch as she moved on from a terrible breakup into the arms of another guy—a Japanese celebrity with the face of an angel and the body of a god.
So when someone else comes along, someone who finds him cute, smart, and funny (sometimes in the haha sort of way), will Miki finally move on? Or will he continue to pine for Jill? Read reviews: Goodreads
WHAT I LIKED
I’m not usually one to go cray for music-themed stories but I’ve read Tria before so in my mind, it was already going to be good; I just had to move past the fact that I was reading about a band! (I know, I’m the worst.)
It turned out to be easy, like slipping into a One Direction song, because it wasn’t all angst, emo and brood. Jill, Kim, Miki (awww, Miki), Son and Nino were more than likeable and they were a lot of fun—they felt like my own annoying but hilarious barkada!
In Songs of Our Breakup, one of the things I liked best was that it wasn’t just about Jill’s broken heart, or Shinta’s pursuit to mend it. I enjoyed that every person had a story, told through the effective use of flashbacks and Trainman songs, and each one of them had a way to be connected to somebody else. I loved that it was also about me, which meant it could also about someone I know as well.
“It’s just that you’re a different person from the person you were yesterday. And you can’t go back. Even if you can, would you want to?” —Yuki (Shinta’s mother) to Jill, page 58 of Songs of Our Breakup
“Why don’t they teach that in school? Emotional Safety 101. How to love without losing your sanity? Instead of people running around claiming they feel it, while not knowing what to do with it, how to handle it, how not to break it, how to keep it whole. It’s a terribly dangerous thing in the wrong hands.” —Jill to Shinta, page 86 of Songs of Our Breakup
The other thing I liked best was Miki (again: awww, Miki), which led me to pining for a copy of Songs to Get Over You, and I am very pleased that (Spoiler alert! Highlight succeeding text to read.) while I had irrational expectations, like a Japan trip throwback with Jill and Shinta and Miki winning Jill over, it came out the way it should have.
An important thing to know about Tria is that she is such a great storyteller. She knows when to stop and smile at the audience, when to make the fans scream and when to make them desperately chase after something. In this book, she does all that by putting everything in the right places: the flashbacks were inserted at the turning moments, the band were (still) hitting the right puns, surprise twists and great songs were played every now and then.
(Spoiler alert! Highlight succeeding text to read.) And even though I do enjoy me some and-they-lived-happily-ever-afters, it is so refreshing to see the Other Girl claiming it. Ana was the bomb. Miki needs to work harder to deserve her. (In another book, perhaps??)
“The music is okay. But I’m really there because one of the guitarists is hot.” —Ana, page 68 of Songs to Get Over You
“I want to kiss you now.”
“Only a kiss? You’ve kissed me loads of time by now. It’s hardly interesting anymore.” —Miki and Ana, page 79 of Songs to Get Over You
“I’m fighting, Miki. But I’m still losing you. Or maybe I never won you in the first place.” —Ana, page 109 of Songs to Get Over You
If you have a shorter attention span, the first few chapters of Songs of Our Breakup may pin you to a slow start. Tria likes to build it up, and sometimes it got me to a point that I was turning to the next pages to see if that thing I was expecting to happen was already happening.
(Spoiler alert! Highlight succeeding text to read.) Also, these books only drop you off at music festivals and gigs, so if you’re expecting to travel to unusual Japanese cafés or divine temples, try something else.
The last time I was this much invested in bands is a vague memory so I find it amazing that Jay E. Tria’s Playlist series has managed to awaken the groupie in me. (I’m not sure if it’s healthy to be daydreaming of attending a Trainman gig at random, though.) Songs of Our Breakup and Songs to Get Over You are certified hits. ☁
“You’ve seen me hide
From love in plain sight
And you’ve seen me run
From things I should have done
You waited until I’ve fallen for you”
“Drunk In Love,” written by Miki, from Songs to Get Over You