This Song Will Save Your Life
by Leila Sales
Farrar, Straus & Giroux [BYR], 2013
[Goodreads] [Book Depository]
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.
This Song Will Save Your Life first came to my attention in early 2013. I was offered an e-galley from the publisher, but then sadly couldn’t fulfill my obligation to get it read and reviewed prior to its release, as life sort of got away from me. Fast forward two years later, and I once again started thinking about reading this one – but this time via audiobook. And I’m actually really glad I went that route. Listening to an audiobook allows me to savor the book for a longer period of time – it took me approximately two weeks to get through the audio version, compared to the (maybe) two days it would have taken me to read the book – and I think that, for this book in particular, that was a good thing. Elise is someone I immediately felt drawn to mostly because she had such a hard time of it. The first two chapters don’t pull any punches – we’re hit with a self-harm scenario straight off the bat – and her desire to just have a friend really resonated with me as someone who works in the education field. By listening to the book, I was able to really think more in depth about Elise and what makes her tick, as well as more fully immersing myself in her world. And I’m really glad I did.
Elise’s narration is just spot on perfect for a sixteen year old girl who doesn’t feel like she has anyone in her corner. She wants so desperately to fit in that she tries to mold herself into something she’s not – which pretty much every person who’s struggled through their teenage years can relate to – and when that doesn’t work, she makes a rash decision that then affects the rest of her year. Honestly she broke my heart quite a lot throughout the book, but particularly at the beginning prior to her discovering Start. However, once she does start to find herself, I loved the journey she went through, even as she made some poor choices. And the background of the music – when she’s relating the songs on her iPod, or learning to DJ with Char, or just scrolling through her computer’s playlists – really helped pull me in, particularly since most of the songs were ones I was familiar with myself. Elise’s love of music was a big part of this book, and as a huge music fanatic myself, just helped me love her even more.
I do want to mention that there are some adult issues covered in this book. Aside from Elise’s semi-suicide attempt, there’s also lots of underage drinking (as well as a character who is clearly an alcoholic, although it’s never explicitly stated) and lots of making out with a guy who’s almost four years older than our MC. I personally felt that all of it – especially Elise’s actions – were realistic for a girl who’s trying to find herself and figure out what she wants, but still wanted to mention it just in case it may be an issue for you.
This Song Will Save Your Life was an emotional coming to age story of a girl who starts out wanting to be someone else, but figures out that who she is is actually pretty awesome. Elise will make you laugh and cry, and combined with the supporting characters (especially her friends from Start), just take you on a wholly enjoyable ride from beginning to end. Like real life, Elise isn’t perfect, and it’s her flaws that make her even more relatable. I highly, HIGHLY recommend you read this book; I know you won’t regret it!
An e-galley was provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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