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July 20, 2018

Adele Griffin's Playlist for Her Novel "Tell Me No Lies"

Tell Me No Lies

In the Book Notes series, authors create and discuss a music playlist that relates in some way to their recently published book.

Previous contributors include Jesmyn Ward, Lauren Groff, Bret Easton Ellis, Celeste Ng, T.C. Boyle, Dana Spiotta, Amy Bloom, Aimee Bender, Heidi Julavits, Hari Kunzru, and many others.

Adele Griffin's Tell Me No Lies is a riveting coming-of-age story and one of the finest YA novels I have read in years.

Booklist wrote of the book:

"A contemplatively paced coming-of-age story . . . while fans of Stranger Things are likely to appreciate the 1980s cultural references, themes of being true to yourself and honest with your friends are timeless."

In her own words, here is Adele Griffin's Book Notes music playlist for her novel Tell Me No Lies:

The '80s was my IRL YA moment, and what I remember most and best is that everything I heard was on cassette. I’d get fixated on a song, press Play, Rewind, Play, Rewind. This obsessive behavior set me up well to become a writer.

Instead of rewind, now I hit revise.


1. "In a Big Country" - Big Country

Maybe it’s the bagpipes. Maybe it’s the brogue? Maybe it’s those travelogue clips of Scotland, where I’d never been, in the video. Also I really loved this lyric: I’m not expecting to grow flowers in the dessert. But I can look and breathe and see the sun in wintertime.

2. "Flashdance" - Irene Cara

Anyone who watched the 1980 movie Fame was already a big fan of Irene Cara—who was in the movie and also sang the eponymous hit song. So this song, the hit single of many off the soundtrack for the 1985 movie Flashdance felt like a natural extension of Irene Cara’s talent. I saw Flashdance during a slumber party, and then we all ripped our sweatshirts to wear off the shoulder.

3. "Peace Train" - 10,000 Maniacs

It’s a Cat Stevens original, and an established classic song I already loved, with a new joyful buoyancy by one of my favorite voices, Natalie Merchant. Who could have sung "Pop Goes the Weasel" and I’d have listened all day long.

4. "In My Room - Yaz from Upstairs at Eric’s

This was the first tape I bought for my Sony Walkman, so already it’s a mystic moment. Every song was so strange and weirdly beautiful, like nothing I’d ever heard before. I listened to Alison Moyet’s voice in my bed in the dark (for a long time I thought the lead singer was a man) and could not believe the power of it.

I couldn’t find a video on this, so here’s the whole audio:

5. "Saving All My Love for You" - Whitney Houston

Listening to Whitney Houston for the first time is a pretty incredible experience. Add a big dose of emotional adolescence and she becomes unforgettable. To me, she is the '80s soundtrack. Whitney Houston’s ballads were the cornerstone of all my 80s Junior and Senior prom experiences. I could have picked any of her hits for my Number One spot, but this song is just so extra gorgeous.

Adele Griffin and Tell Me No Lies links:

the author's website

Kirkus review

also at Largehearted Boy:

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Book Notes (2015 - ) (authors create music playlists for their book)
Book Notes (2012 - 2014) (authors create music playlists for their book)
Book Notes (2005 - 2011) (authors create music playlists for their book)
my 11 favorite Book Notes playlist essays

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