Review + Interview | Songs of Our Breakup by Jay E. Tria

Songs of Our Breakup
by Jay E. Tria

Series: Playlist (#1)
Release date: August 22nd 2015
Publisher: N/A
Genres: Romance, chicklit
Age category: New Adult
No. of pages:  180 pages (kindle edition)

Every breakup has its playlist.

How do you get over a seven-year relationship? 21-year-old Jill is trying to find out. But moving on is a harder job when Kim, her ex-boyfriend, is the lead guitarist of the band, and Jill is the vocalist. Every song they play together feels like slicing open a barely healed tattoo.

Jill’s best friend Miki says she will be out of this gloom soon. Breakups have a probation period, he says. Jill is on the last month of hers and Miki is patiently keeping her company.

But the real silver lining is Shinta. Having a hot Japanese actor friend in times like these is a welcome distraction. This gorgeous celebrity has been defying time zones and distance through the years to be there for Jill. Now he is here, physically present, and together he and Jill go through old lyrics, vivid memories, walks in the rain, and bottles of beer. Together they try to answer the question: what do you do when forever ends?
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You don't really stop loving someone. It's just you're different now from the person you were yesterday. And you can't go back. Even if you can, why would you want to? - Yuki

I'm torn with giving this book three stars or four. It was a wonderful book, yes, but I encountered some dull moments.
Anyway, this book follows a twenty-one year old girl named Jill and her [love] life after her boyfriend, pardon that, ex-boyfriend, Kim, of seven years broke up with her. Moving on is especially harder for her since Kim is the lead guitarist of their band. But when a pleasant distraction came in a form of her friend, a hot Japanese actor, can they find the answer to the question: what do you do when forever ends?

This book is has this poignant and melancholic air; I love that aspect of it. Even when I think I should feel happy with what is happening in the book, I still felt a bit sad, it's like I'm cloaked with negative feelings. I don't even remember whether I smiled while reading this book. Anyway, I'm not feeling bitter or whatsoever but this just proves that the character's voice reached out to me, you know?
It's not a super cheesy love story, it's not sugar coated, it is very realistic. This book also addresses different types of love that most of us can relate to, I would know. I like how the lyrics of the songs were spread out. It was very fitting with the chapter it was in.

The main character, Jill, was an "okay-character" to me. She's likable but she can be dense sometimes. I like Shinta but he's a bit of a poster boy for cliché'd guy  handsome, hot, smart and most of all *swoon!* goofy. The supporting characters were pretty great, too. I like their easy banter and playful retort to each other. I like each and everyone's personality but I like Miki the most. He's like my favorite character here. Also, Kim is an asshole.

Overall, it was a very enjoyable read but I was kind of hoping for more. More of the back story, more of the playful banter of the band, more of the past, just a bit more.
Did I like the ending? Hmm, not really or maybe because I'm rooting for a different couple.
Is it a page turner? Yes. It was truly a page turner; I couldn't put it down.
Would I re-read it again? Yes. Also, I'm patiently waiting for the next one!

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
Growing up I had English teachers who gave gold stars to my essays, put down nice comments on my papers, and pulled me aside to tell me to keep writing. So I did. I wrote fiction on notebooks in elementary, I joined the high school paper, I tried to convince my mother to let me take up Journalism in college (I failed), and I joined the magazine of my college organization. But there was no a-ha moment. Instead it was a series of decisions to keep writing, and an endless cycle of falling in love with it, of always wanting to do better at it, even if it’s really up to me (since I didn’t get a Journ degree that led to a writing day job) to carve out time for it.

What do you do when you’re not writing?
I have a day job, parents, sisters, and two cats. I think I still have friends. Haha. I read. I’m catching up on Filipino indie books. I watch gigs and go places whenever I can. I was able to do both at the same time this year when I went to a music festival in Tokyo. That was a let’s-do-this-again high. Sometimes I remember to catch up on sleep, but someone almost always needs to remind me.

How long does it take you to write a book?
This book? My first book took me years. My third book Majesty took me five weeks. I think it’s a function of a deadline, self-imposed or otherwise, which is related to the decision to finish the book and publish it. I had none of those for the first two books. With Songs I had written a few thousand words years back, and then I stopped working on it. This year I found the manuscript again, decided I will publish it, and finished the first draft in a month.

Where did you get the idea for Songs of Our Breakup?
That book was an intersection of daydreams. I was at the height of my infatuation with Japanese dramas, also known as the time I fell in love with actor Oguri Shun. (Look him up. You won’t regret it.) That was also the time when I was very into the OPM band scene, attending gigs and accumulating songs in my iPod. There’s this bar in Makati called Saguijo that we frequented at the time. It was a loud, hot, cramped, rundown, unassumingly charming place, and I thought it was such a romantic setting that I just started imagining things: an indie band, a Japanese idol, a love triangle. If that sounded farfetched to you then you can imagine the challenge when I decided to publish the story. Haha.

How did you come up with the book title?
Next to the blurb, the title is the bitchiest thing to figure out. That was my number one problem with my first book, Blossom Among Flowers. I had a 165k+ word manuscript (has since been trimmed down to a third of this length) that I had no idea what to call. Until now I’m not sure if I got that one right. So when I rediscovered the unfinished draft for Songs, I decided to figure out a title before I continued writing it. I’ve written the scene where Shinta sings a few lyrics tone deaf to tease Jill, and I thought, oh hey, why don’t I write lyrics every few chapters so I can call it Songs of Our Breakup?

What was one of the most surprising things you learned in writing this book?
That I can write lyrics inspired by standing at the MRT platform while waiting for the damn train to arrive.

Is there anything you would like to change in Songs of Our Breakup?

Less adverbs, stronger sentences. But story-wise, I’ve let go of it. My editor reminded me that the story is no longer mine, and that’s okay because I’m honestly proud of what I’ve written ☺

Do you have a playlist?
Yes. I usually need a vacuum when I write. But for this book I’d play music while attempting to write the lyrics, because I’ve never written lyrics before and I didn’t know what the heck I was doing. I had the Strokes, Arctic Monkeys, the Script, Muse, Regina Spektor, John Mayer, Ed Sheeran, Bloc Party, Sandwich, Imago, and more on repeat. I’d pick one song and listen to it again and again, and imagine it playing in my head, so that I’d have the melody as a guide when I wrote the song. That’s the closest I’ll ever get to living the rock star life by the way.

What do you do when forever ends?
I’d get a haircut, work my butt off, go out with my friends, and when I get home I would hang out with the likes of Mr. Darcy and Mr. Rochester, hoping for a deep, dreamless sleep.

What’s next for this series?
Miki’s story that I’m calling Songs to Get Over You (it has a title, huzzah!). It’s the story of this human who has spent the past few years standing still, suspending motion, waiting for his love to be noticed and returned. I adore him, but I also want to slap him and push him and see where he will go.

Jill took one beer bottle and chugged, her eyes on the door again when Kim entered, trailed by a girl too.
She coughed out beer on the table, splashing Nino’s shirt. Nino didn’t seem to mind. Nobody did. Their table seemed as frozen as her lungs as Kim approached them, a stranger in tow.
Jill couldn’t see her, could not make out any details. Something clouded her eyes, and the familiar vacuum was in her ears. From somewhere far, she heard Kim speak.
“Scary crowd tonight. I hope no one’s drunk yet.”
“I don’t know. I think that might come helpful.” Nino had pressed Jill’s hand around a new beer bottle.
Kim said the girl’s name, and the girl said some things.
“You’re the girl from Math 100!” Son exclaimed. “Were we classmates from my first take, or the second one? Was that a June?”
The girl laughed. Already she was connected to Jill’s friends by more than Kim’s hand.
“There’s a free table.” Kim spoke again, and said hand reached the girl’s waist. “We’re up in about an hour, guys. Nobody get wasted until after! Later.”
Jill kept sitting up straight, knowing Kim and his friend had taken the table just behind them. His voice still reached her in this vacuum, interlaced with the girl’s giggles, as Jill’s insides filled with dead air and her stomach shrunk in itself.
The vacuum broke, bile rising to her throat. Jill shot up and flew out the door.
Her sneakers pounded on the concrete. She made it past the queue of patrons outside, through the metal gate of the parking lot. Acid, air, alcohol, and whole peanuts spilled from her mouth to the gravel floor. She sunk on her knees, her hair on the stones, one arm wrapped around the clenching pain in her stomach.
“Up you go.” Miki took her arm and gently pulled, one hand running soothing circles on her back.
“I didn’t hear you come,” Jill muttered, staggering upright. “Go away, I’m gross.”
Miki turned her to him and wiped her mouth with the back of his hand. “There.” He smiled. “Clean as new.”
He towed her to his car, which was nearer the scene of Jill’s vomit crime, and they sat on the hood. Jill breathed in the cool air, the bitterness in her tongue aching for water. Darkness still clouded her eyes, cold sweat covering her arms. She blinked and waited for the colors to return.
She turned to Miki and concentrated on his face. Soon his image sharpened, the deep crease between his brows a curious contrast to the calm lines of his mouth.
“Do you wish you met Ana in Economics 100 instead of me?” she said, mouth dry and tasting of bile.
“Where’s that coming from?”
“She’s cute and perky and obviously socially adept.” Jill paused as she processed this. “She’s like the anti-me. That’s so strange. But then she’s also tall and skinny and she moves like a boy, like me.”
“I never understood why you of all people never had a girlfriend. Or so you claim.”
Miki pulled out a clean handkerchief from his pocket and pushed it on Jill’s hand. “Sometimes girls can be very cruel.”
Jill took it, noting how old fashioned her best friend was, carrying a white handkerchief around, as the tears made a free fall down her cheeks.
“Boys too,” she murmured. She allowed Miki to pull her head down to his shoulder, so he wouldn’t have to see her noisy, ugly cry.

About the author:
Hi! I'm a writer of contemporary Young Adult and New Adult romance. These days I'm writing paranormal/fantasy too, and it's a fun exercise. I'm often inspired by daydreams, celebrity crushes, a childhood fascination of Japanese drama and manga, and an incessant itch to travel.
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