Playlist Series Spotlight Part 3 | Review + Live Tweets: Songs to Make You Stay by Jay E. TriaSongs to Make You Stay by Jay E. Tria
Series: Playlist #3
Published by indie author on October 9, 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
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Love isn’t supposed to be this hard.

Now that he’s finally won Jill, the girl who’s always rocked his world, you’d think life would be heaven on earth for Shinta Mori. In a way, it is. But maybe he’s underestimated the fact that he’s a hunky movie star in Japan while his girl is ruling the indie music scene all the way in Manila.

When he spends a long-awaited vacation with her–through impromptu performances, frenzied flyer distribution, and unhinged radio guestings–he realizes how imperfect his seemingly perfect life is. And he begins to wonder if what they have is strong enough to survive years of being apart.

Can Shinta prove he’s worthy of the spotlight the universe shines on him? And more importantly, deserving of the devotion of a young girl in love?

It’s the last day of my Playlist series spotlight fest, and of course, we conclude with the third book in Jay E. Tria’s series, Songs to Make You Stay. Apparently, people had some interesting reactions to the ranty post I published yesterday, on book 2, Songs to Get Over You. I would very much like to say that today I’m just going to be all hearts and squiggles over book 3.

I would, but it’s not going to happen.

Which is not to say that it wasn’t an engaging read that was chock-full of feels. If you were following my live tweets (seen at the bottom of this post), then you know that it was exactly that. It was so engaging I almost completely forgot that I’d committed to write and submit an article for another website yesterday, and I ended up having to cram for a buzzer-beater submission. Basically, yes, I was engrossed.

How could I not be? I’d been waiting for the Shinta book since finishing the Jill book, and part of what fueled my rage at the Miki book was the fact that it was a Miki book and not a Shinta book.

I started the book completely excited but also very leery of the problems I was left with in book 1. And that’s that I hardly knew Jill because the force of Shinta’s personality overwhelmed the entire read. I called him a scene stealer, and it’s true—even in the scenes where he’s standing on the sidelines watching Jill, the spotlight in the reader’s heart and mind shines steadily on Shinta. This was a problem, I realized, and I wondered how this would be addressed in the third book.

The solution wasn’t what I was expected: it was to have the entire book in Shinta’s point of view! Why the exclamation point? Because apparently to keep Shinta from stealing scenes from other characters was to make every scene a Shinta scene! So now the challenge was, could he outshine himself?

And let me tell you, there were moments when he did. There were moments when living inside his head was like finding out how well peanut butter and chocolate go together for the very first time. Those scenes elicited all the sighs, swoons, and soulful staring into nothing any romantic could want.

Unfortunately, though, in other scenes, harsh reality waited for me.

Because once my readerly eyes adjusted to the bright lights of Shinta City, I realized something important: I. Did. Not. Like. Jill. At all. At first, I tried to psychoanalyze my dislike of her. Was it a knee-jerk reaction to book boyfriend Shinta? The way you’re predisposed to dislike any girl your crush likes? It took some soul searching, but I realized that wasn’t the case. I’ve never had that problem with any other book boyfriend I’ve had.

So I actually revisited Jill scenes from the two previous books as well as this one. And I realized Jill was a passive-aggressive, passive-loving person, and it was driving me cray-cray! She never made the first move. Ever. She only made a move when the ball was so firmly in her court the game would have ended had she not done something—and half the time, not even then. In fact, I was only able to identify one or two instances when she did make a move. But outside of that? It was all Shinta, baby. Who kissed first? Asked first? Flew thousands of miles first? Loved first? Not Jill, that’s who.

And I’m sorry to bring up high school physics, but it occurred to me that Jill was basically Isaac Newton’s Immovable Object. And all the supporting characters in these three books were people who tried to move said immovable object and failed because they simply didn’t have enough force or mass. Good thing Shinta was a heavy hitter, because he was the Moving Object with a heck of a lot of mass. So he carried the story along—and he carried her.

And for a while they moved along together. Until they hit what I guess was like an uphill stretch of road. And suddenly Jill was the Immovable Object again. It wasn’t even like, “let me try to keep moving even though it’s hard and I may fail.” It was like “I don’t think I can move, it’s too hard.” So Shinta was forced to amp up his efforts to keep them both moving along, which might have been romantic if it didn’t mean him pretty much dismissing everything he was outside of their relationship. At which point Jill was like “Oh I thought we were on a break because things got hard, but if you’re sure about this, okay, let’s keep moving.”

And that was the “happy ending” of this book. Except it made me want to cry because it felt so wrong, even though what I wanted—for them to be together—actually happened!

So, I guess at this point I need to explain a little about where I’m coming from philosophically. Because as with Book 2 of this series, I found myself having very violent reactions to things in this book that I loathed because I loathe them in real life too.

The first is the notion that being in a relationship requires sacrifice. No, that’s not the thing I hate. What I hate is when only one person in the relationship does the sacrificing. Because being in a relationship isn’t really about sacrifice—it’s about compromise. It means giving something up (and okay yeah that might mean some sacrifice) in order to achieve something more desired or more important.

But for it to work, the compromise needs to cut both ways. Shinta gave everything up. Half the words you would use to describe Shinta are no longer applicable by the end of this book. But what did Jill compromise or give up? I couldn’t think of a single thing that rang true. I couldn’t help feeling like, someday in the future, Shinta is going to resent both her and himself for her ultimatum. And, yes, it was argued over Twitter that she never “asked” him to do it. But just because the ultimatum wasn’t given voice in a “do this or else” bit of dialogue does not mean it was never issued—just the fact that she broke them up and only got back together when he gave up the thing he wanted that she didn’t like was an ultimatum in itself. It said, in actions if not words (and you know what they say about actions being stronger than words) that if he pursued this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, he would lose her. So yeah, I think if this story is continued this decision will bite them both in the asses and leave them swimming in a sewer pit of what ifs.

Starting with, What if Jill’s love and commitment had been strong enough to allow them to pursue both their dreams?

And sure, you could argue that what Shinta gave up wasn’t a dream. But I found it very suspicious that all hints of him not being too happy with his path in life started when this bit of conflict was introduced. Like the moment he realized it was a problem, he started rationalizing his existence in such a way that would allow him to live with the sacrifice he would make because she would rather break than bend. Because Jill is the immovable object. And for their relationship to continue on its journey, the burden of impetus always falls on Shinta.

I can track things back to that one moment, when I realized what their big problem was going to be. And my first thought was that I hoped Jill would be less selfish and more brave than she seemed up until this point, and that I hoped Shinta was going to stay strong and not be a doormat or an enabler.

But I kind of knew, even as I was thinking it, that these hopes were in vain. Because I think, deep down, Shinta knew it too. It’s in that exact moment when he refuses to let himself be happy and proud of himself for earning an opportunity others in his shoes would kill for. And why? Because Jill was not going to go for it.

I wanted her to rise up, damn it. I wanted both of them to. Rise up, wise up! was the chant in my head from that moment on. That they failed to do so disappointed me bitterly.

I’m bitter because while I may have dreamed of a guy who would give up everything for me back when I was a teenager, I’m older now. I want a guy who gives me as much as he can, but also keep a little bit of pride and worth for himself. I don’t want someone who ushers me to move where I need to move—I want someone who’ll match his pace to mine, who’ll protect without possessing and respect my decisions and defend my right to make them, even when he doesn’t agree with them. Even when they hurt him. Even when they hurt me. I want a guy who won’t move obstacles out of my path; instead, I want one who will cheer me on as I awkwardly clamber over or around them. In short, I want a true partner.

I’m bitter because I wanted Jill and Shinta to be that for each other. I’m bitter because I know the weight of my expectations and the failure to meet them are my own imaginary constructs as far as this book is concerned. It doesn’t matter. I hold on to my bitterness because they deserved better than what they gave each other.

Fifteen hours later, I’m still bitter.

Was this a good book? Yes. But where it left me emotionally can only was near devastating. I hope another book is in the works. I hope they have another chance at partnership. I hope Jill has a chance to show that she’s a strong, interesting woman who can solve her own problems. I hope Shinta has a chance to show he’s a man who can stand aside and let the woman he loves fall so she can learn to pick herself up.

And again, I know these hopes are more constructs of my imagination.

But you know what else I know?

I paid for this book. The feelings are free and mine to feel.

To quote Lesley Gore, “It’s my party, and I’ll cry if I want to!”


Feel Factor Rating






Playlist Series Reading Order*

1. Songs of Our Breakup
Buy on AmazonAdd to GoodreadsRead review by Anne Plaza • Read my review

2. Songs to Get Over You
Buy on AmazonAdd to Goodreads • Read my review

3. Songs to Make You Stay
Buy on AmazonAdd to Goodreads

*Reading order is according to publication date. I would recommend reading the series in this order: Songs of Our BreakupSongs to Make You Stay, Songs to Get Over You.

About Jay E. Tria

Jay E. Tria writes contemporary Young Adult and New Adult stories about characters that live inside her head, about people she meets and people she wishes to meet. She is a daydreamer, a reader, and a lover of skinny jeans, sneakers, and live gigs. Oh, and adopted cats. She is not a cool kid.

Live Tweets While Reading Songs to Make You Stay by Jay E. Tria

(Note: A rather vocal conversation ensues as a result of the above tweet, thanks to Braintabs blog’s Veronikka)