Music and reading: a perfect pairing

Remember the last time you found that song that perfectly matched your mood? The song that let you be happy? Or made you cry when you needed to cry?

Here are some songs I think capture some of the biggest moments in Sarina, Sweetheart. Listen as you read, or ignore the book and find some new favorite songs. :)


I've built playlists in Spotify and Youtube. Choose your favorite morally questionable corporation. Or just build your own playlist based on the songs listed below.

Song 1 - Savages: Marina

Favorite lyrics

Were we born to abuse, shoot a gun and run / Or has something deep inside of us come undone? / Is it a human trait or is it learned behaviour? / Are you killing for yourself or killing for your saviour?

Excerpt - Ch 2, On Being a Weapon of Mass Destruction

I've overheard a lot since I figured out how to stay awake during minor surgeries. Engineering a child to be a weapon of mass destruction, that's unethical. Refining a weapon of mass destruction that someone else created? That's just being clever.

Song 2 - Darkside: Cece And The Dark Hearts

Favorite lyrics

Everybody got a dark side / Little bit of devil inside / Back o' your mind / And he's sayin it's alright / We all got a dark side / And darling this is mine

Excerpt - Ch 4, Sarina leaves the lab

I think about what Dr. Choebach said during surgery. We could cure her completely. I wonder if he meant I'm less contagious. Or not contagious at all.

Soon I will be caged by flames in the same way I was caged by glass. I pick up the bag. I step out of my cage and drop to my knees, like all the public safety ads tell you. My palms land on something hot and sharp, burned beyond identification. I shove it away. And that's when I know.

I am just an animal. Wounded now, nearly choking, crawling through ash that chars my hands and my knees, hoping my hair doesn't catch fire before I reach the door.

I should stay, but I will go. I am just an animal.

Song 3 - Misguided Ghosts: Paramore

Favorite lyrics

See, I'm trying to find my place / But it might not be here where I feel safe / We all learn to make mistakes / And run from them, from them

Excerpt - Ch 9, Sarina runs

"Would you say something, Tom?" Mandy snaps. "Tell her to come with us."

Tom studies me carefully. "I think she's had enough of other people making her decisions. She's entitled to her own mistakes."

He's more right than he can possibly know.

Song 4 - Narcissistic Cannibal: EarlyRise

Favorite lyrics

Sometimes I hate / The life I made / Everything is wrong every time / Pushing on, I can't escape / Everything that comes my way / Haunting me taking it's sweet time

Excerpt - Ch 9, Sarina discovers the family that helped her was killed

Only a coordinated team of snipers could have done this - exactly the kind of team the lab has at its disposal. The lab arranged this little display just for me. They want me to know that my father's virus didn't kill the Harrises. I killed them by knowing them. A sniper's rifle could easily kill me too, if the lab wanted me dead. There's no point in running. The lab knows where I am. They've known for hours, otherwise they wouldn't have known I was headed back here. All my precautions meant nothing. I murdered the Harrises, and my freedom lasted less than two days.


The voice comes from behind me. It's Dr. Choebach, standing at the edge of the woods. He looks more tired and worried than he ever did at the lab.

"You killed them." Raw grief, like acid, burns my throat and scars my words. "They didn't know anything!"

He shakes his head. "No, sweetheart." His eyes rest on each body for a short moment, then he swallows hard. "They called me after ... after it was done."

Song 5 - Bang: Sir Sly

Favorite lyrics

I'd love to never think again / 'Bout money, 'bout purpose, 'bout my friends / I'm not finding any joy in comparison / Everywhere I look, another dead end

Excerpt - Ch 24, Sarina decides to go home

Do I have something to offer the world that's worth letting the virus in my lungs live?

A voice inside me answers yes, but it's not the reassuring voice of Harold. It's the sibilant voice of my father. The sociopath who wants to start an epidemic just because he can.

There is one way I can justify my existence. I can make sure the Sarina project is destroyed. I will kill Larry. I will kill Sam. I will kill my father. I will tell the world what they've done. And since there's no possible way I can survive all of that, the rest will take care of itself.

Song 6 - Dirty: Grandson

Favorite lyrics

Do you love your neighbor? / Is it in your nature? / Do you love a sunset? / Aren't you fed up yet? / Do you have enough love in your heart / To go and get your hands dirty?

Excerpt - Ch 28, Pablo offers Sarina his help

"An ocean between us should be enough."

He shakes his head. "You tried that before."

"It's different this time."

"Your Immortal Game," he says quietly. "I remember. I wouldn't make you go to the police." There's a hardness in his eyes I haven't seen before. It's a sharp contrast to his normal jovial, gentle manner. "We didn't with my sister's attacker either."

I hug myself and study this new version of Pablo. I think there's an offer in his statement. "I can make my own revenge."

Song 7 - Cascades (Dirt Road Version): Metric

Favorite lyrics

Cascading waves of emotion / Cascading over us still / From leaving feelings unspoken / The way we always will

Excerpt - Ch 29, Sarina leaves Pablo behind

"I bought the phone off one of the crew. It's prepaid, but it has nearly two hours on it." When he flips it open, one contact is listed on the screen. "Now you have my number and I have yours."

My hand closes around it. I won't give it back. I can't ever call him. "You shouldn't have."

"The ship will be in port for a few days for maintenance and repair work. I'll be touring some of my favorite bars in East Boston. Unless there's somewhere else I need to be?"

I shake my head.

He cups my elbows with his hands. I feel his breath along my hairline just before he kisses me on the forehead. "Anytime, sweetheart. All you have to do is call."

Sweetheart. I wish people would stop using that word.

Song 8 - Drop Dead: grandson ft. Kesha and Travis Barker

Favorite lyrics

Sometimes, the bad guy wins and / Sometimes, the good guy dies / When the screen goes black, I'll be with you in the back / On the bright side, on the bright side

Excerpt - Ch 33, Sarina sacrifices herself

When I imagined Jennifer stopping my heart, it was always on the operating table, and out of malice. Malice would be easier to bear. I will spend the last seconds of my life watching my good deed go to waste. She strokes my hair just once. Her quiet tears wet her cheeks. As my vision goes black, I see two guards in masks leaning over us, pulling her away, and her cries become sobs and screams.

Song 9 - Good news: K. Flay

Favorite lyrics

We still got time, we still got soul / I could use some good news / ... / To pull me through / Couldn't you pull me through?

Excerpt - Ch 34, The End

"It's a long story," I say finally. But this time, I'm going to tell him everything.

My name is Sarina.

My breath is poison.

I was not born out of love.