Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Broadway to Books: Wicked and Heathers the Musical (Guest Post Repost)

Thanks to Book Bloggers International for doing a month of posts focused on pairings. It gave me the chance to think about my two loves together. I love musical theatre. I love books. BOOM! This post was originally posted on their site on July 25, 2016. It's been modified here for length and formatting. 

A lot of musicals were based on books, so if you enjoyed one of these popular shows, reading the original text isn’t a terrible idea. Though tread lightly, because just like when your favorite book becomes a movie (just say no, y’all) there are often many things reinterpreted to appeal to a different format and audience. 

For the sake of brevity, here are two of my favorite musicals (I did three for the guest post)  At least, they were my favorite before I saw The Color Purple two weeks ago, which basically blew me away. You can expect another musical- book pairing post. This might be a great excuse to see more shows!

All right. Let’s start with something easy:
Theme: Old characters in new situations, or there’s more than one side to everyone’s story.
Wicked is a retelling of the Wizard of Oz story that tells a bit about the witches as children and teens and about how they met. They grew up with different families and different ambitions which really change their experiences and options as they get older. An obvious book to read is Wicked, the book on which this musical is based. I have to tell you, I didn’t care for it. But my love of the musical makes me want to go back and give it another try. Another obvious choice is ANY OTHER OF THE MILLION stories about Dorothy and Oz. A great one is Dorothy must die by Danielle Page. I loved the whole series.

Less Obvious: Chris Colfer’s The Land of Stories is another great choice if you enjoy fantasy and seeing old favorite characters in a new light. These books are fun and sunny, written for middle graders. They follow twins as they discover they can enter into the land of the fairy stories their grandmother read to them as children.

Ok… my Even Less Obvious book pairing is The MadWoman Upstairs by Catherine Lowell. This is the story of a girl who grows up knowing she is the last descendant of the Bronte sisters and her father, now deceased, was basically obsessed with the Bronte family. The world thinks the family is hiding the vast Bronte fortune, which doesn't actually exist.  The main character knows everything about the Brontes and her father until she goes to school to live in the old tower he lived in.

Theme: The stuff girls do to say on top
Heather the Musical was based on the movie from 1988 starring 80’s cult classic stars Winona Ryder and Christian Slater both of whom later got into trouble and then dropped off the planet, I think. Anyway, the musical is about Veronica. She’s a high school in a school where everyone is shitty to everyone else and the three most popular girls are all names Heather. She joins their little group but hates how she has to cower to the lead Heather’s power. And then she meets a boy with fewer morals and a bad case of untreated complicated grief.

The three books that I think pair with this musical are all basically about teenagers who look really together but are really just not.

The Luckiest Girl Alive by Jennifer Knoll is told from the perspective of now- adult Ani, who is going back to her prestigious private school to talk to a report about “the thing that happened” when she was in school there. In trying to fit in with the popular rich kids she lost much, but she’s never really been able to tell people about everything she went through or what exactly happened on the day the school really got the shock of its life.

Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight is a wonderful book about a girl who was in over her head at school. Her mother, Kate, comes to get her from school, where she has been accused of cheating, and Amelia is dead by the time she gets there. Kate is sifting through the remains of Amelia’s life to figure out what Amelia was involved in and if she ever really knew her daughter at all.

A less obvious book pairing is the haunting The Walls around Us by Nova Ren Suma. I don’t really want to say too much about this one. One, because it’s been a while since I read it and I’m sure I’ll mix up the details and two, because there are a few twists and turns that make this one worth reading even with only a little info.

Where to Go Next:


  1. Great post! I adore Wicked both the musical and the book even if they are worlds apart! Will definitely check out your recs, The MadWoman Upstairs sounds especially good! :)

  2. I love this! For Heathers, I might also rec Queen Bees & Wannabes, which Mean Girls is based on.

    1. True. I didn't include non=fiction, but if I did, I would definitely add that one.