Erin Hahn shares the soundtrack to her new YA novel, Even If It Breaks Your Heart
"I’ve kept these songs to myself… until now, that is. Enjoy!"
This post was written by Erin Hahn, author of Even If It Breaks Your Heart.
If you know me or are familiar with my stories, I’m a bit of a music nerd (“bit” being an understatement). I often have playlists published alongside or within my books, but for my upcoming young adult romance, EVEN IF IT BREAKS YOUR HEART, the focus wasn’t on the music and therefore, I’ve kept these songs to myself… until now, that is. Enjoy!
Linkin Park, Waiting for the End
The book opens with a short prologue told from Walker Gibson’s POV. At the start of the story, Walker has been gone for several months, having died at age 17. It’s not a spoiler, I promise. Afterall, the story isn’t Walker’s, it’s his best friend Case’s. But Walker had something to say and he said it in a quiet moment, in a dark hospital room, waiting for the end. It’s one of my favorite scenes of all time. If you’re feeling like hurting yourself, listen along as you read.
Blackbear, me & ur ghost
Okay, hear me out. This song is a breakup song, but to me, it’s the song that inspired the first chapter of Case and Winnie’s story. Case is sitting on a corn silo yelling at the ghost of his late best friend who left him an impossibly stupid bucket list to complete after his death. It’s funny, it’s gutting, it’s dark and it’s genuine. We meet Case at a low point in his grief. So yeah, it’s a breakup song, but the line “I’m not alone, it’s just me and your ghost” really speaks to Case’s mindset at the start.
Box Car Racer, I Feel So
Enter Winnie Sutton. She’s whip smart, hard-working, loyal and exhausted of everyone’s bullsh*t. Frankly, she prefers horses over humans, specifically an equally prickly mare named Queen Mab. If Winnie has a soft spot, it’s her younger siblings, who she’s raising basically on her own. She finished high school early and works on the Michael’s ranch to put food on the table. The last thing she needs is a sad boy rich kid bull rider like Case Michaels trying to distract her.
Machine Gun Kelly, I Think I’m Okay
Case is clearly not okay. He knows this. Everyone knows this. But he’s alive when his best friend isn’t. So he’s determined to put on a happy front and carry on. Even if that means drinking too much, casual sex and trying to fulfill the dangerous tasks on Walker’s dumb list.
Jon Pardi, Ain’t Always the Cowboy
Turns out, Winnie Sutton is one hell of a barrel racer. Of course, she knew this all along, but this is news to Case Michaels who is finding basically everything about the girl who works in his dad’s stables, fascinating. Obviously, all she needs is someone like him to tell her how awesome she is and she’ll feel motivated to do something about her dream, right? There’s a line in this song that goes, “Still I can’t keep from smiling, cuz damn that girl can fly.” And as ill-conceived as Case’s initial notions regarding Winnie are, he can’t help but fall under her spell anyway. It’s all very annoying and adorable.
Eminem, Till I Collapse
Walker and Case spent their teens trading buckles in the ring, but now Walker is gone and Case doesn’t know if he can keep chasing the dream of joining the PBR without him. In fact, he doesn’t even know if he wants to. But he can’t tell anyone that so he’s facing the chute alone.
Tracey Chapman, Fast Car
For many years, way before Luke Combs hit the scene, I promised myself I would write a character inspired by Fast Car. A harried oldest daughter who dreamed of someone with a fast car stealing her away from her responsibilities and her dependent family. Winnie was born out of that idea, though I’ll admit, I gave her a happier ending than the one portrayed in the song.
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Hardy, Give Heaven Some Hell
I’ll be honest, I couldn’t believe my ears when I heard this song that released as I was drafting EIIBYH. The way that Waiting for End was Walker’s song, Give Heaven Some Hell was all Case. There’s a specific moment in the story when Case has to come to terms with hitting a milestone, a birthday, that Walker would never reach. Walker would remain seventeen but Case would continue to age and grow and fall in love to have experiences and he realizes he has to start living for himself.
Lainey Wilson, Wildflowers and Wild Horses
I didn’t listen to this song when drafting only because it didn’t exist for me at the time. But! I’ve heard it since (in fact I think Wilson performed it at the National Rodeo Finals, recently) and it gives me all the Winnie vibes. After all, Winnie is the toughest girl I know so the line “I’m barefoot and bareback and born tough as nails” screams my favorite barrel racer.
Imagine Dragons, Wrecked
This song portrays the utterly garbage thing that happens when someone you care about dies and time passes and you think you’re moving on and you’re feeling good and the sun is shining and then you get knocked on your butt by something random that reminds you of them and your grief returns in full force. And anyway, that happens to Case.
Taylor Swift, Mine (Taylor’s Version)
“You made a rebel of a careless man’s careful daughter.”
Kane Brown & Marshmello, One Thing Right
In his defense he was grieving, but it still took far too long for Case Michaels to notice Winnie Sutton. That said, once he did, he never wavered. She needed a friend and he was determined to be the best friend she’d ever had. So what if he was madly in love with her? He’d still be the best friend she’d ever had.
Journey, Don’t Stop Believin’
Walker’s favorite “walk on” song (the song they play when you’re entering the chute, for those of non-bull-riders among us) was Thunderstruck by ACDC. The dude loved classic arena rock. A love his best friend did not, however, share. But through events I shall not disclose, this song becomes near and dear to Case and he claims it as his own.
Jimmy Eat World, Hear You Me
“a song for a heart so big/ God wouldn’t let it live”
There’s a moment when you finally have to let go…
Cam, Till There’s Nothing Left
… and reach for, and hold on tight, to someone new.
Jimmie Allen & Noah Cyrus, This is Us
I really can’t share the why’s for these last few songs without completely spoiling the ending, but this song fits Case and Winnie so well because while their story is a love story, it’s also a story of growth and change and grief and courage and becoming an adult.
I hope you listen along as you read EVEN IF IT BREAKS YOUR HEART and reach out on social media to tell me your favorites! -Erin