The pandemic seems to bring the reign of Taylor Swift. Not only has she released two brand new albums, but now she just released a re-recording of her classic album Fearless. Now, this was my jam in middle school, and to this day I replay it constantly. “You Belong With Me” goes on when I’m pining for a boy who doesn’t love me back and I use my hairbrush as a microphone. “White Horse” goes on when I need a good cry. This album is full of feelings, and what better to read alongside it than a bunch of YA full of feelings too! Here is a track-by-track guide of what to read while you enjoy Taylor’s Version.
“Fearless” — The Moon and More by Sarah Dessen
“I don’t know how it gets better than this. You take my hand and drag me headfirst, fearless.”
Everything in Emmaline’s life is perfect: her boyfriend, her family, and the peaceful little beach town she calls home. When she meets Theo, an ambitious filmmaker from New York, he thinks she can do better. She’s too smart for her town—Ivy Leagues are the only place for her. Emmaline feels the draw, but she doesn’t want to leave the safety of home. Still, with Theo by her side, maybe anything is possible.
“It’s the morning of your very first day.”
Mary Porter-Malcolm is the child of two professors and has spent most of her life going to private school, surrounded by other book nerds. Now her school has just shut down and she must undertake a new adventure—public high school. Armed with only her knowledge from class novels, Mary dives in and finds it more helpful than she expected, at least when it comes to dealing with boys. The myriad of scoundrels in literature helps her create the Scoundrel Survival Guide, which helps not only her, but her new friends as well.
“Love Story” — Always Never Yours by Emily Wibberley
“Romeo, save me. I’ve been feeling so alone.”
Megan Harper has found her Romeo so many times—the perfect guy to sweep her off her feet. But she is never their Juliet, just one step on their journey to finding someone better. Megan doesn’t mind. She likes flings, and besides, she’s more focused on directing her high school’s production of Romeo and Juliet (no, I’m not making this up). Unfortunately, she has to fulfill an acting requirement for the college of her dreams. She’s cast, not in the insignificant role she wanted, but as Juliet herself. While working on the production, she meets Owen, a sensitive playwright who’s more interested in Rosaline than Juliet. As they spend more time together, she wonders if he’s the Romeo she never expected.
“Hey Stephen, why are people always leaving? I think you and I should stay the same.”
When Edie Price moves in with her horrible cousins midway through senior year, she’s not happy. Her eyes are set on college—she’s not about to let anything distract her. But then she’s reunited with Sebastian, her childhood friend, who is exactly the way she remembers. They slip into their easy childhood routine, which for her spells trouble…
“White Horse” — The Stars We Steal by Alexa Donne
“I’m not a princess, this ain’t a fairytale. I’m not the one you sweep off her feet, lead her up the stairwell.”
Years ago, Leo broke Elliot’s heart by not running away with him because he was a penniless servant. Now he’s mysteriously reappeared for engagement season, extremely wealthy. He can have any girl he wants, and he’s determined to make Leo miserable. This novel twists the rejection narrative making Leo, the romantic heroine, the one to emotionally destroy her true love. Clearly she still has feelings for Elliot, and he may as well, but he refuses to reciprocate. Will they overcome their stubbornness and past hurt to be together?
“You Belong with Me” — Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
“Can’t you see that I’m the one who understands you? Been here all along. Why can’t you see you belong with me?”
This is the classic story of boy meets girl, boy and girl become friends, girl falls for boy, but boy is already in a relationship! From the moment Anna meets Etienne, sparks fly. He’s sweet, sensitive, adorable, and English. He finds her quirks adorable and wants to show her the city. They hang out daily and have amazing times together. She can talk to him about anything… if only he would leave the girl who clearly doesn’t make him happy and be with her instead!
“Breathe” — An Abundance of Katherines by John Green
“I see your face in my mind as I drive away, cause none of us thought it was gonna end that way.”
Colin has been dumped 19 times, each time by a different girl, every one named Katherine. After the last time, he decides he’s had enough, so he and his best friend take a road trip to literally drive away from his problems. This story, while not Green’s best, is quirky and nerdy and deals with being dumped in an authentic and honest way.
“Tell Me Why” — After by Anna Todd
“You tell me that you love me, then you cut me down and I need you like a heartbeat.”
Unfortunately, there are many examples of popular YA books that picture and sometimes even glorify abusive relationships. Like the protagonist in Taylor’s song, Tessa is tired of the attitude and abuse she receives from her mysterious, sexy classmate Hardin. And yet somehow, she is drawn to him again and again.
“You’re Not Sorry” — Open Road Summer by Emery Lord
“I’ve been giving out chances every time and all you do is let me down.”
Reagan O’Neill and her best friend, country star Lilah Montgomery, a character not unlike Taylor Swift herself, are headed off for a summer of touring. Reagan just had an ugly breakup with her boyfriend and vows to live a life free of drama. This sweet YA deals with hard breakup and has a country flavor perfect for Taylor Swift fans.
“The Way I Loved You” — Legendary by Stephanie Garber
“Breakin’ down and coming undone. It’s a roller coaster kinda rush and I never knew I could feel that much.”
Of all the toxic boys in YA, Jacks from the Caraval series might be the most fun. For Tella, the protagonist, his lips are literal poison. He threatens to destroy her in so many ways, and yet she is still drawn to him and he to her. Their interactions are full of delicious drama and even though we know he’s wrong, we so badly want him to be right.
“Forever & Always” — P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han
“I stare at the phone, he still hasn’t called, and then you feel so low, you can’t feel nothing at all.”
Peter and Lara Jean are our favorite rom-com couple, and in the first book/movie their relationship is picture perfect, goals for days. In this sequel, though, we get to see what happens after “happily ever after,” and the answer is: lots of drama. We see a boy from her past, John Ambrose, and a girl from his, Gen, come between them, and we have to wonder, is this couple truly forever and always?
“The Best Day” — The Mother Daughter Book Club by Heather Vogel Fredrick
“I know you were on my side even when I was wrong.”
This Taylor song centers on a warm, fuzzy relationship between a little girl and her mom, which made me immediately think of this series. It follows four very different girls as they navigate through middle school and high school, using a mother-daughter book club to bring these girls and their mothers together. Two girls are similar to their mothers, and two are polar opposites, but they all work through their relationships with love and respect, which is beyond heartwarming to read!
“Change” — The Cruel Prince by Holly Black
“These walls that they put up to hold us back will fall down.”
Jude Duarte has faced nothing but barriers for her entire life. A human growing up in Faerie, she will always be the underdog. They have position and powers she can only dream of, and they use them to abuse her at every turn. Jude, however, is determined to become one of them and make them pay for all they have done for her—ruthless Prince Cardan in particular.
Fearless (Taylor’s Version) was released on April 9, 2021.