The Sea Is Salt and So Am I Official Playlist

June 16, 2021 | 12:00 PM

The Sea Is Salt and So Am I Official Playlist

By Cassandra Hartt
This book is atmospheric and melancholy and you can bet my writing playlist matched. I create a playlist for each of my projects, and listening to it at the start of a drafting session helps turn on the part of my brain that knows these characters and their world. Later in the process, when I have a full draft that I’m revising, I tend to pick one song and put it on repeat. Basically, I’m trying to lull myself into a trance so that I can focus. And it works! Headphones recommended, though, if you want the people you live with to keep liking you. A couple of other important notes. (1) I did a lot of the most intense drafting on The Sea is Salt and So Am I in the early 2010s, and this playlist reflects that. (2) If you think it’s weird that there are so many songs by The National here, just know that there were like twenty more songs I could’ve included. I held myself back, ok?
Terrible Love by Birdy - This is the first song on my personal, 5-hour-long The Sea is Salt playlist. I don’t know what it’s actually about, but when I listen to it, I think of Tommy and Harlow. Yes, this is a cover of a The National song. The Coldharbour Road by Stornoway - I first heard this song while I was studying abroad in Glasgow during college, playing over the speakers in a thrift store. I’d been so eager to travel abroad the summer leading up to this semester, but when I finally got there, I felt really depressed and lonely. That gap between how I’d expected to feel and how I did feel was something I gave Tommy. 715 - CRΣΣKS by Bon Iver - When I needed to dial in and make progress on a chapter of The Sea is Salt, this is one of the songs I put on repeat. To be honest, I have no idea what Bon Iver is saying on any of the songs on this album. But the lyrics of writing music are less important to me than the mood the song sets, and this song feels like past hurt and yearning. So. Much. Yearning. The Gardener by The Tallest Man on Earth - This sounds like a happy folk song, right? But actually, it’s about someone who’s so afraid of their lover finding out the bad things about them that they’ll do anything to stop it. This feels like a Harlow and Ellis song for sure. Bad Decisions by The Strokes - “Making bad decisions / Making bad decisions.” It’s obvious why this made the list, right? Don’t Bother Calling by Moses Sumney - Another artist I put on a loop when I was revising The Sea is Salt, Moses Sumney’s songs are airy, atmospheric, and perfect to write to. Oblivions by The National - When I think about Harlow’s and Ellis’s friendship, it feels like this. Thingamajig by Miya Folick - This would be perfect to listen to while reading Chapter Forty-Nine.  Just saying. Good News by K. Flay - “Forecasters say more bad weather / But they don’t know nothing, don’t know never.” This song is quintessential Harlow. Miracle Mile by Cold War Kids - Ellis is the only one of the book’s three narrators who wants to leave West Finch, Maine. He has big dreams of being a track star and escaping small town life. He’s so eager to outrun his current life that he’ll risk anything. Bad Ideas by Tessa Violet - No spoilers but! This makes me think of one particular relationship in the book. 👀  I Think You’re Alright by Jay Som - An intense, intimate, maybe-codependent relationship. Another Harlow and Ellis song!  I Should Live in Salt by The National - Based on the title alone, I couldn’t not include this song. But it also reminds me of Ellis’s and Tommy’s relationship as brothers and twins. They’ve grown apart over the years, partly by choice, yet they feel like they should have a much closer relationship than they do. Sam, A Dream by Black Belt Eagle Scout - This sounds how it feels to be nostalgic for something that hasn’t even happened to you yet. I’m obsessed with the back half of this song. Cry for Judas by The Mountain Goats - “Some things you do just to see / How bad they’ll make you feel.” There were many, many The Mountain Goats songs I could’ve included, but this one is too perfect.

The Sea Is Salt and So Am I by Cassandra Hartt

I’ll Give You the Sun meets Normal People in Cassandra Hartt's The Sea Is Salt and So Am I, a stunning YA contemporary debut that asks if the secrets we keep and the people we love can change who we are. West Finch is one hurricane away from falling into the sea. Yet sixteen-year-old Harlow Prout is determined to save her small Maine hometown. If only she could stop getting in her own way and find someone, anyone, willing to help. But her best friend Ellis MacQueen “fixes” problems by running away from them—including his broken relationship with his twin brother, Tommy. And Tommy’s depression has hit a new low, so he’s not up for fixing anything. In the wake of the town’s latest devastating storm, Tommy goes out for a swim that he doesn’t intend to survive. It’s his unexpected return that sets into motion a sea change between these three teens. One that tests old loyalties, sparks new romance, and uncovers painful secrets. And nothing stays secret in West Finch for long. Exquisitely honest and shimmering with emotion, The Sea is Salt and So Am I is a captivating multi-POV story that probes the depths of what it means to love and trust—both ourselves and others.

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