This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales
Digital Audiobook narrated by Rebecca Lowman
Published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR) on September 17th 2013
Genres: Contemporary, Music, Realistic Fiction, Romance, Young Adult
Length: 276 pages or 8 hours, 14 minutes
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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.
I really, really, really enjoyed this book.
I like Elise. I get Elise. I didn’t go through exactly what Elise did in school, but a lot of the time, I felt like she did. High school can be brutal, guys. Really, really brutal. If you don’t fit in, then it’s ten times worse. Elise’s story is about her depression hitting an absolute low, and how she comes back from that. It’s not pretty. In fact, a lot of times it’s really, really messy. There are also really strong themes about cyberbullying. But throughout the whole thing, there is a glimmer of hope far away, even though Elise doesn’t always recognize it.
This is also a book about music. And it was hard to listen to this audiobook, because Leila Sales would mention an artist I didn’t know, or a song I loved, and it would make me want to pause the book and switch over to iTunes. It’s so clear that the author loves music just as much as Elise, and this love of music is just as central to the story as Elise finding herself.
The story isn’t perfect. Elise is a really negative person, and she does some mean things. She does some selfish things, and she hurts herself in more ways than one. She’s a bit destructive, but not intentionally. She’s so desperate to be loved, to be recognized… to belong that her choices are often poor. But she is real. She is flawed and there are consequences to her actions. I think that goes for every character in this book – you like them all in different ways, but they are absolutely human. My standout character was Vicki, whom I adored. She’s this beautiful ball of positive energy, but then she shares her history and it breaks your heart a little.
I’ve never been to a nightclub, because I’m completely vanilla and uncool, but I loved the world of Start. I liked the music choices!!! Why do clubs in movies only play electric or techno? If I knew they were going to play good music (lol, sorry) I’d probably had tried to seek them out more. Also, I loved Elise insecurity about dancing? 100% me. I feel like a fool, and I care, and it’s weird.
And while I know the world doesn’t always end in happily even afters, and This Song Will Save Your Life doesn’t exactly close with everything perfect, if closes with everything right. I thought the last chapter of the book was really good, because things worked out well enough. Truths were revealed, peace was made either with friends or that people aren’t always who you want them to be. I would read another book in this world. Pippa’s story, for example. I’d like to read Pippa’s story.
I don’t think that This Song Will Save Your Life is going to be a good fit for everyone. I think that people will get frustrated with exactly how much Elise gets away with. Frustrated with her attitude. They may roll their eyes at Char’s cliche or the inevitable explosions that Elise just ignores even though it’s pretty obvious to see them coming. But I loved this book. It spoke to a part of me still hiding inside from high school that still wants to be seen, really seen, rather than failing to fit into a mold.