Sometimes you read a book and think to yourself “I need the soundtrack of this.” Sometimes, you’re so lucky that the author creates one for you! Speak of Me as I Am by Sonia Belasco is a moving story of grief, honesty, and the healing power of art – the ties that bind us together, even when those we love are gone. Read a bit more about the book below, then grab your headphones and start listening!
About the book:
Melanie and Damon are both living in the shadow of loss. For Melanie, it’s the loss of her larger-than-life artist mother, taken by cancer well before her time. For Damon, it’s the loss of his best friend, Carlos, who took his own life. As they struggle to fill the empty spaces their loved ones left behind, fate conspires to bring them together. Damon takes pictures with Carlos’s camera to try to understand his choices, and Melanie begins painting as a way of feeling closer to her mother. But when the two join their school’s production of Othello, the play they both hoped would be a distraction becomes a test of who they truly are, both together and on their own. And more than anything else, they discover that it just might be possible to live their lives without completely letting go of their sadness.
Onto the playlist!
1. “Better Days” – Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros
I love this optimistic, unsentimental look at how to envision a better future when things are tough. That to me is Damon and Melanie’s relationship in a nutshell.
2. “Godawful Things” – Lake Street Dive
What an upbeat song about how terrible life can be! But it’s so important to be grateful for the people who come into your life when you’re struggling, as those connections often become the strongest.
3. “Trust in Me” – Etta James
Etta James – besides being an awesome and legendary soul songstress – is a point of intersection for Melanie and Damon, a touchstone.
4. “You’ve Got to Learn” – Nina Simone
Nina Simone sings about grief like no other, because she knew that one of the hardest parts of being sad is pretending you’re okay.
5. “Stay” – The Suffers
Both Melanie and Damon love soul music, and this is the kind of contemporary soul I imagine they would listen to together (and maybe make out a little?).
6. “Mother” – Florence & the Machine
This fierce song represents Melanie’s mother and the scope of that loss.
7. “Patchwork Lover” – Noah Guthrie
Melanie and Damon are both coming apart at the seams, trying to help stitch each other back together.
8. “Apologize” – Kacey Musgraves
I like this stripped-down version of the One Republic song, which has always been Damon and Carlos’s theme song in my mind. Grief often comes with a desire to say you’re sorry, but it can feel like it’s too little, too late.
9. “Shelter” – Ray LaMontagne
Melanie and Damon are definitely each other’s shelter in the storm that is loss, but they also lost those that sheltered them.
10. “Rooks” – Shearwater
This song has always resonated with me as being about that hard-to-define sadness that comes with loss. It feels almost funereal.
11. “Can’t Go Back Now” – The Weepies
Personally, this song has helped me in moving forward when so much of my attention feels focused on the past, and I imagine it would help Damon and Melanie too.
12. “I Miss You” – Beyonce
Beyonce may be talking about the end of a romance here, but that is a form of grief too.
13. “Higher Love” – James Vincent McMorrow
I see Melanie and Damon’s story as a hopeful one, a search for a higher love, a way of rising from the ashes.
Get your copy of Speak of Me as I Am!