Thursday, December 12, 2013

This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales

Summary (from Goodreads):
Making friends has never been Elise Dembowski’s strong suit. All throughout her life, she’s been the butt of every joke and the outsider in every conversation. When a final attempt at popularity fails, Elise nearly gives up. Then she stumbles upon a warehouse party where she meets Vicky, a girl in a band who accepts her; Char, a cute, yet mysterious disc jockey; Pippa, a carefree spirit from England; and most importantly, a love for DJing.

Told in a refreshingly genuine and laugh-out-loud funny voice, THIS SONG WILL SAVE YOUR LIFE is an exuberant novel about identity, friendship, and the power of music to bring people together.
So I was not quite expecting what I got from this book. I thought it would be more about learning to love music. I had no idea that a character’s life would actually be saved. This book is so much more than music. I’d go as far as calling this monumental in the leaps and bounds it takes in covering teen bullying and even teen cyber-bullying. This is a book about a girl who is so bullied at school that she really comes to think of herself as a failure, as someone who doesn’t believe she deserves to live.
The book deals with suicide, bullying, divorce, and fitting in at school like no other contemporary I’ve ever read. This book was not easy. I actually cried while reading about what some of the people at Elise’s school were doing. I cannot believe the extent of the bullying that was going on for such a long time with no adult intervening, and yet I also could believe it.
Elise’s character has so much pain. But she’s also a character with so much intelligence. Her grasp on her many projects and her ability to learn any task set before her was so interesting to read about. And despite her suicidal idea in the beginning, I found her to be so strong. She’s strong enough to take over the music of a dance club. She’s strong enough to fall for a guy another girl has already fallen for. She’s strong enough to know when said guy is being jealous and ridiculous. And she’s strong enough to fight for what she wants, once she knows she wants it. She never gives up on acceptance, even after the world tells her and over and over that she can’t have it.
The music references in the book were amazing. I knew most of the bands/songs mentioned, and the ones I didn’t know, I wrote down to explore later. The whole idea of the night club/dance party only happening on certain days was just kind of magical. And I loved the characters there. The security guard, the owner, the cute dj, were all such characters. And they added to the world-building of this lifestyle.
And while my high school experience was absolutely nothing like Elises’ I found her character to be so relatable. I honestly believe any teen could relate to her loneliness and her inability to be understood.  And while I connected with her, I also simultaneously worried for her, because I am an adult. I know that it’s not a good idea to go on all those night-time strolls, to go alone to a stranger’s apartment, to fall for a guy who so clearly uses other women, etc. And while I feared for the main character and the decisions she was making, I was also full of so much hope for her.
It was amazing seeing how the music and the djing transformed her. And it was nice that this book, while dealing with intense stuff, never got to be preachy. It wasn’t a lot of therapy or caring individuals who saved Elise. It was this new world she found on her own that did. And this was just so beyond powerful to read.
I feel like 2013 has become the year of the contemporaries. Seriously, I’ve read some amazing YA contemporaries this year (and picking the best for my top books of the year will be crazy hard), but I know for a fact that is one of my favorites. It gets a 10/10.


  1. I was unsure about this book, but now this definitely goes on my TBR list. Thanks for sharing!

    Baileys @ Unladylike Reviews

  2. Huh, I find it interesting that you see falling for a guy one of her friends wanted as a strength. I definitely didn't see things quite that way. BUT I am glad you loved this, because, if I had to choose, I think this was my top book of the year. I felt SO MUCH like Elise in high school minus the suicide attempt. My feels, Nori.