Unofficial Playlist for The Dream Diaries (with teasers):
Sometimes we turn to music as a way of shifting our moods, maybe to calm us or as a motivational tool, to help lift us up. But just as often—maybe more often—we seek out music that is in tune with our emotions. We identify with songs and artists that seem to express exactly what we are feeling, only more intensely, more precisely, as if they understood completely what we are going through, as if they could speak for us.
The following twelve songs sample the emotional arc of Evelyn’s character, as well as the characters that possess her dreams. As the unofficial soundtrack to the book, the songs fit specific scenes in the story. For each of those scenes, I’ve shared a brief excerpt from The Dream Diaries (just teasers, no spoilers … I hope).
1. Song: “Oh My God”
Artist: Ida Maria (Fortress around My Heart)
Lyrics: “Find a cure, find a cure for my life… Oh my God. Oh you think I’m in control. Oh my God. Oh you think it’s all for fun.”
From Chapter One: Evelyn’s drawing again…
Evelyn turned to the first blank page. The problem was, she didn’t trust herself, not as far as her drawings were concerned. Not at the risk of manipulating or hurting others, intentionally or not. But what if she didn’t try to draw her daily reality? What if she documented her dreams instead? This one had left her too anxious to sleep anyway. Maybe by drawing it, by capturing the terrible details of the nightmare on paper, she could exorcise them from her mind.
Evelyn selected a pencil from the mug on her desk, touched the paper with the point, and began to draw.
2. “IDK How”
Artist: Angelic Milk (single)
Lyrics: “I don't know how, but I learn fast. I don't know how, but if I learned how I'd be the best.”
From Chapter Three: Meanwhile, it’s Walt Whitman in English class…
Schwartz had stopped to talk with the group next to theirs. He was leaning heavily on the table top with one hand and gesturing with the other.
Evelyn turned back to the poem. “I see, in low life, the mother misused by her children, dying, neglected, gaunt, desperate.” Schwartz wanted them to identify the words that created tone. Which ones didn’t? “I see the treacherous seducer of young women. I mark the ranklings of jealousy and unrequited love, attempted to be hid.”
“Do we have to analyze everything we read to death?” she whispered.
Mara looked up and gave her a knowing smirk.
Evelyn saw Mr. Schwartz at the next table, his hand fluttering in the air as he spoke like a one-winged bird, and she felt suddenly ashamed. Lowering her head, she forced herself to go back to the poem.
3. Song: “Normal Person”
Artist: Arcade Fire (Reflektor)
Lyrics: “Is anything as strange as a normal person? Is anyone as cruel as a normal person?”
From Chapter Three: “Hey, who’s that boy over there?”
Evelyn and Karen followed Denise’s gaze to a table at the far edge of the freak section, almost closer to the main lunch mob than the tables behind the art buildings. A kid in a grey hoodie and a baseball cap was sitting there alone.
“Psycho Loner Kid?” Karen asked. “What about him?
“Well, nothing. I’ve never seen him before.”
“That’s his name?” asked Evelyn. “I thought it might be Slim Shady or something.”
“Yeah, right?” Karen laughed, and then she began to bob her head and rap the refrain from Eminem’s “Lose Yourself”.
“Why do they call him Psycho Loner Kid?”
Both Evelyn and Karen turned to look at Denise.
“Okay, yeah, I get it,” she said, “but why psycho?”
“I don’t know,” said Karen. “Look at him.”
Evelyn could see he had his ear buds in, but his eyes were on the lunch crowd and not the phone he was holding in front of him.
“Maybe he lives alone with his dead mother?” offered Evelyn.
4. Song: “Riko's Smooth Talking Mothers”
Artist: Le Butcherettes (Sin Sin Sin)
No Lyrics, just guitar, bass, and drums.
From Chapter Four: “Oh no,” she said, “My parents are home.”
“What!” Sammy nearly shoved Evelyn onto the floor as he scrambled away from her and off of the bed. “Already?”
“Yes.” She rolled the rest of the way off the bed and onto her feet.
“But, I can’t be up here!” he hissed.
“Well,” she said, hastily smoothing out the wrinkles in her skirt. “It’s too late now.”
“But we weren’t doing anything!”
5. Song: “Sweet Annie”
Artist: Reina del Cid (The Cooling)
Lyrics: “If you ever leave me I'd grab my gun and start a war.”
From Chapter Seven: Christian.
“Sometimes he drinks too much,” she would tell Christian, sitting on the side of his bed to wake him for school. “He doesn’t mean to hurt me. It’s not him. It’s the alcohol. Promise me you will never drink, mijo. Promise me.” She would say all this in the still dark of early morning, her face in shadow, her voice a careful whisper. “He works hard. He takes care of us. He doesn’t really mean it. He’s a good man, Christian.”
But he wasn’t.
6. Song: “Kiss Me Again”
Artist: Jessica Lea Mayfield (With Blasphemy So Heartfelt)
Lyrics: “Well you can kiss me again if you want, I don't mind. Well you can kiss me again if you want, oh that'd be fine.”
From Chapter Seven: Sammy and Evelyn get their intellectual flirt on.
“That’s if you believe in destiny,” she said.
“So, if I hadn’t walked into that room and found you by yourself that night at Brianna’s party, then it would have been some other meeting, some other crossing of our life threads?”
“Yeah, maybe we go to the same college and you’re an art student, and I’m a starving engineering major, trying to make some extra money, working part-time as one of those nude art models.”
“And I take one look at your Adonis body and fall in love with you instantly?”
“And then when you take me out to dinner—”
“Because you’re starving?”
“Yes, and you find that I’m not just extremely good looking, but I have a brain, too.”
“Which, of course, is what I’m really interested in,” she said, working around to his side of the canvas as she painted. “But what if it wasn’t our destiny to meet, but we did by chance?”
“Oh, so we’re breaking the rules of fate,” he said, “cheating destiny every minute we’re together?”
“Wow, what a romantic you are. Cheating destiny? Changing the future?”
“Hey,” He bent over the paint tray with his roller, but when he stood up his hands were empty. “If Evelyn Hernandez could actually be my girlfriend, anything is possible.”
She left her roller where it was on top of the wet canvas and then she was in his arms and they were kissing.
“Hey!” Jason and Denise called out at the same time. “Get back to work, you two!”
7. Song: “Bizarre Love Triangle”
Artist: New Order (Brotherhood)
Lyrics: “I do admit to myself, that if I hurt someone else, then I'll never see just what we're meant to be.”
From Chapter Eight: Awkward…
“I…” she began, but then something behind them caught her eye, and both Karen and Denise turned to follow her gaze. It was the kid. He was sitting at his table again.
“I have to go over there,” she said. “I have to talk to him.”
Just as Evelyn stood up, Sammy and Jason came walking around the corner of the art building. She quickly sat down again.
“We thought we’d surprise you,” said Sammy, “but it looks like you were expecting us.”
8. Song: “Soniatl”
Artist: Chicano Batman (Chicano Batman)
Lyrics: “Soniatl sigue soñando sueños alegres porque amarillo es tu color.”
From Chapter Eight: Did not see this coming…
Evelyn looked down at the bright yellow skirt extending from beneath Sammy’s grey sweatshirt. He called it her Morton Salt dress and said she reminded him of the girl on the container when she wore it. “Thank you,” she said, self-consciously tugging the hem down over the white tights of her knees and smoothing out the fabric against her lap. She could feel Mara’s eyes following the movement of her hands.
9. Song: “The Unforgiven”
Artist: Metallica (fifth album)
Lyrics: “Never free. Never me. So I dub thee unforgiven.”
From Chapter Eight: (No comment.)
The only sound now was the rhythmic chunk of the shovel in the ground, the hiss of dirt off the blade, and the thump of it landing outside the deepening pit. The hole began to take on an oblong shape, and eventually he was standing knee deep in it. Chunk, hiss, thump. Just beneath these sounds, Evelyn thought she heard him say something to her, until she realized he was singing to himself, tunelessly at first, but steadily gaining in volume.
10. Song: “La La La”
Artist: Naughty Boy - feat. Sam Smith (Hotel Cabana)
Lyrics: “I’m covering my ears like a kid. When your words mean nothing I go, la la la.”
From Chapter Eight: (Yes, a lot happens in Chapter Eight)
He gave her a sideways look. “Oh, psychology. Okay, I’ll play. I want a smokin’ hot girlfriend that looks just like Mila Kunis. I want a Chevrolet Corvette Stingray in velocity yellow. I want a house on the beach in LA with one of those infinity pools that look like they go right out into the ocean. And I want—” He was suddenly quiet.
11. Song: “Moaning Lisa Smile”
Artist: Wolf Alice (My Love is Cool)
Lyrics: “She's overachieving, chasing her dreams, And coming down slowly, yeah, it's out of control.”
From Chapter Twelve: Back in the Dean’s Office…
“What you have to understand, Evelyn,” said Tyler, “is that it’s because of what happened to you that I worry. Yes, you are a good student, but you do have a history of risky behaviors. You can’t deny that.” He leaned forward, folding his hands beneath his chin. “Addiction is not something anyone sets out to do, Evelyn. It starts with having a little fun, or just looking for an escape, or just wanting to fit in, but then it owns you, it destroys you and everyone who cares about you, and you can never escape it. Do you understand what I’m trying to say, Evelyn?”
12. Song: “What Part of Me”
Artist: Low (Ones and Sixes)
Lyrics: “Can’t you see that I’m bleedin' out here? Waking up from a dreamin' out here.”
She wanted it to be true with all her being. Her fingers ached for control, itched to hold a pencil, to push and pull and drag those details from the shadowy margins of possibility and fix them permanently on the empty page.
The twin blades of fear and hope seemed to pierce her chest and she gasped, a quick, shuddering breath.
At the sound, her mother turned to look at her, her searching eyes weary with the impossibility of understanding, alive with the same hope. “Bad dream?” she whispered.