YA’s Got Talent!

I’ve always been super envious of all those people who were so talented — mostly people in the performing arts realm but also other things (sports, writing, etc). Probably because I am the opposite of talented in these areas.

I can’t sing — seriously it’s a whole hot mess of screeching and off key madness that is reserved for my shower and my car when I’m alone. And unfortunately sometimes when Will’s around and I swear he must be deaf by now. I took tap and jazz class when I was little and I was GOOD but not good enough long term to get on all the super competitive dance teams. I hated practicing. I can’t play an instrument unless you count the clarinet that I terribly squeaked Ode To Joy out of over and over again in the 5th grade. I had one drum lesson and got frustrated. I”m just not very talented except in my dreams or maybe in the shower when I pretend that when I sing Someone Like You that I actually sound like Adele.

I think that’s maybe why I love watching shows like The Voice and America’s Got Talent — I love watching that talent. I’ve noticed I’m also really drawn to stories about characters who are really super talented when it comes to the performing arts! There’s SO many great novels out there and I love learning about all the work that it takes to MAKE it at that level of talent and all the sacrifices they have to make to pursue their passions.

So if you also enjoy this type of story, I wanted to share some of MY favorite books that deal with talented performers or ones that are on my TBR LIST! This is not by any means a complete list; just ones that I’ve read or that are on my radar.

PLEASE RECOMMEND ME MORE! I need to live vicariously through talented characters in books! Click on the book covers to learn more about each book!


Virtuosity by Jessica MartinezTake A bow by Elizabeth Eulberg

Amplified by Tara Kelly


Pop Princess by Rachel Cohn

Rival by Sara Bennet WealerBunheads by Sophie FlackAudition by Stasia Ward KehoeA Company of Swans by Eva IbbotsonIf I Stay & Where She Went by Gayle Forman

Books Listed:

Virtuosity by Jessica Martinez
Take A Bow by Elizabeth Eulberg
Amplified by Tara Kelly
Pop Princess by Rachel Cohn
Rival by Sara Bennett Wealer
Bunheads by Sophie Flack
Audition by Stasia Ward Kehoe
A Company of Swans by Eva Ibbotson
If I Stay & Where She Went by Gayle Forman

Have you read any of these? Any on your TBR list? ALSO, please recommend anymore books in this vein!

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About Jamie

Jamie is a 32 year old married lady (with a new baby!!) who is in denial that she's actually that old to be a married lady and a mom. When she's not reading you can find her doing Pilates followed by eating ice cream, belting out Hamilton (loud and offkey) and having adventures with her husband, daughter and rescue dog.


  1. LOVE THIS. I played cello for three years but I refused to take it home and practice, so, you know. And you should totally read all of these books. Especially Virtuosity. And Amplified. And Rival. And all of them.

    This doesn’t totally count, as it’s not YA and it’s not necessarily about her signing, but Meg Cabot’s adult-ish series, The Heather Wells mysteries, is about a previous pop star who solves crime at the New York dorm where she works. It’s SO GOOD.

    • Anytime I hear the word “Cello” I just think about Jack Black in School of Rock saying “CELLOOOO!” lol Anyways. Totally read Virtuosity! Loved that one! I have Rival and Amplified waiting to be read! I read 5/10 books I listed and the other ones are either owned or on my library list!

      Totally going to check out the Meg Cabot books — those sound fun!!

  2. LOVE this post because I also love these kind of books! Because, I just have no talent.. like .. no dancing, no signing ( Oh .. SooO not singing), no music and no– well you name it!!
    You should add CATCHING JORDAN to this list, which is about a girl playing Football and it’s dominating her life. Looove this book!

    • Hahaha sounds like you and I should start a band together. Let’s call it Talentless? haha!

      Catching Jordan’s been on my radar so I’ll have to read it sooner rather than later! Sports is a whole other topic for a rainy day. I am SO envious of athletic types. I was too gangly and uncoordinated to be good at sports. I was good at softball when I was a tween and played lacrosse in high school (can’t say I was great!) but I just am not athletic. I always watched all those Disney movies and so tried to pretend I could become that talented. What was the one about the two twins who played basketball? lol

  3. I’m with you on watching talent because I don’t have much! I can play the violin but I don’t pick it up much. I’d love to get back into it. I think it’s great that you did a post recommending these boos. I adored the Gayle Forman books and Virtuosity. I’ve actually got Bunheads out from the library right now–I’m glad to hear how good it is!

    As for sports books, I highly recommend Catching Jordan and The Running Dream. The Running Dream isn’t quite as much about talent as it is the story of a girl who loses her leg and has to get a prosthetic one. It errs just a little bit on the cheesy side at times but was an uplifting story.

    • Glad you loved the Gayle books & Virtuosity! Virtuosity was a surprise to me! I hadn’t really heard much about it! I hope you enjoy Bunheads! Let me know! Fun Factoid: The author was a real professional ballet dancer so it’s really such an inside scoop which made it all the more fun!

      I have The Running Dream on my shelves I believe. Although I might have lent it to my little sister who runs cross country!

  4. I’ve read Virtuosity, Audition, If I Stay and Where She Went, and the rest of these are all on my list! I must admit the dance books are hard for me to read because I wanted *so* badly to be a professional dancer, but I just don’t have the talent no matter how hard I worked at it! I actually self-pubbed a novel in verse, DEFY THE STARS, about a talented classical pianist–I think it would appeal to fans of If I Stay, Virtuosity and Audition.

    Thanks for the great list!

    • You really should read Bunheads! I think you’d like that one! I think the thing for me, and that a lot of these books show very well, was that you have to give up SO MUCH in order to “make it”…I mean it’s rewarding and all but you really have to be ok with saying no to a lot of other things plus there is that ever so important element of just natural born talent that practicing can’t even help with. I just wasn’t, even as a child, ready to devote HOURS to practicing dance. No thanks, I wanted to go frolic outside! But some people have what it takes I guess to make it all come together. Sadly I am not one of those people.

      Will check out your book! Thanks for commenting!

  5. Loved this post!! Haven’t read to many of these ones but they all are on my TBR list and now I just want to read them all sooner after this creative post! I have read IF I STAY and WHERE SHE WENT. Loved both of them!! I have no talent on the signing or dancing front either. I am horrible at both! XD

    • Eeee I love finding other Gayle Forman fans! Those books are SO SO GOOD. I mean, I actually think I liked Where She Went better. The story was just SO PERFECT and HEARTBREAKING and SOBBBBBB…I get all teary thinking about them.

      Glad I’m not the only talentless one in the singing/dancing front! 🙂 Hope you get to some of these books soon! You’ll have to let me know what you think! I highly recommend Virtuosity & Bunheads! I LIKED Take A Bow but not as much as those two.

  6. I absolutely ADORE this post. It’s true – I love reading about people who have talents that I can only dream of possessing – singing, dancing and any sort of sport. And the books you’ve listed above all sound AMAZING… and I apparently need to catch up on my reading 😉

    • Thanks Alexa! YES YOU MUST READ THESE! I think you’d really enjoy Bunheads or Virtuosity…but FIRST…please tell me you’ve read If I Stay/Where She Went?? If not, lock yourself in your room and READ THEM first!

      ALSO. I have to say that you and I are VERY talented at running to catch trains and also we have superior line waiting skills. 😛

  7. Like you, I love books about talent! I’ve read all of the ones you’ve listed but A Company of Swans. I’m going to have to get my hands on it! My favorites are ones about bands/musicians..sooo here are three suggestions all with music themes.

    Audrey, Wait! The MC isn’t the talented one, but it’s about a song written about her
    The Disenchantments – it’s about a band/road trip.
    Five Flavors of Dumb – The MC is a deaf wannabe-band manager.

    • You are really on top of your “Talent” books (for lack of a better term)!! Totally have heard of all the ones you listed so I will be getting these from the library soon!! Thanks! 🙂

  8. I love love love this post! I played clarinet from 4th till 12th grade so I guess you could say that I was musically talented but I’d beg to differ. I mean, I knew how to play to an extent and I enjoyed playing but at the same time, compared to others, I was not super talented. I’m also not talented when it comes to singing or dancing either. I do know that I would really enjoy books that involve any type of talent though. Virtuosity and Audition have both been on TBR for a while now but, I’m going to have to add the others to it as well! 😀

    • Thanks Allison!! DUDE. I couldn’t ever make the clarinet sound GOOD. It was just so squeaky and obnoxious. UGH. And the spitty reed thinger? EW EW EW. I wanted to die every time.

      ANYWHO. Please read Virtuosity soon!! That book was DYNAMITE!

  9. Love this Jamie! I’d recommend Being Friends With Boys–the main character Charlotte writes all of the lyrics for her friends’ band, and discovers her own talent for singing and performing throughout the book.

  10. “Guitar Girl” by Sarra Manning is not the most recent(2004), but it’s an awesome story of a group of British teens that form a rock band. There’s success – there’s failure – there’s romance – and lots of hilarious descriptions. It’s got it all! I also recently picked up a book by Martha Schabas about ballerinas called “Various Positions.” The jacket hints at an illicit love affair in the company. Intriguing!

  11. Have you tried Jersey Tomatoes Are the Best by Maria Padian? One of the girls is a ballerina, the other a tennis player. They’re both good friends and totally into their passions. I loved it!

    I don’t watch much TV about talent, but I am a huge fan of books where the MCs are passionate about something. I’ve read a few of the books on your list- If I Stay (aww) and Rivals. I definitely need to read more! Thanks for the rec’s and I hope you enjoy mine too 😉

    • I have not! Definitely checking that one out! Thank you for the rec 🙂
      Have you read Where She Went after you finished If I Stay??

  12. Okay, Jamie. So I feel like I have committed the ultimate sin. I have not read ANY of these yet. (How is that possible?) I’m participating in the read-a-thon this weekend, and picked up If I Stay after reading your blog this afternoon!

    • AHHHH! SINNER! But at least you are confessing and making it right 😛 OMG I want a play by play of your If I Stay experience but I’m warning you that you are going to be DYING for Where She Went upon finishing. As much as I loved If I Stay I truly think Where She Went was my favorite. As a whole, the story was just BEAUTIFUL and POWERFUL. Enjoy!!

  13. I love this post! There’s still a few of these I need to read! Have you read Audrey, Wait!? Audrey doesn’t actually sing but the book is very much about music and IT’S AWESOME! I read it in one sitting.

  14. I can’t sing either. haha. Or dance, really. So I do enjoy these books. In fact, I just bought Bunheads and Virtuosity this weekend. WHAT A COINCIDENCE.

    I agree with Lori… Audrey Wait is cute! Also Being Friends with Boys? There’s a girl in a band! And I know there’s something else I read recently… Paradise by Jill S. Alexander. A drummer in a country band!

    You know what… I also get jealous of books about runners. That’s weird, right?

    Great post!


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