Published by Macmillan on 2013-09-17
Genres: Coming of Age, Contemporary, Friendship, Social Issues, Young Adult
Source: a Giveaway
Amazon • Barnes and Noble • 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, Leila Sales' THIS SONG WILL SAVE YOUR LIFE is an exuberant novel about identity, friendship, and the power of music to bring people together.
Starting out, I have to say that I love the cover for this book. Also, I want to mention that while I enjoy music, I’m not really what you would call a ‘music person’. I like music and I listen to it often, but I don’t usually identify with songs or feel strongly about them like I do with books. If you enjoy music like that, I imagine those parts of the book will speak more deeply to you than they did to me. Regardless of my feelings towards music, I still enjoyed the book and think it’s one you should give a chance.
This Song Will Save Your Life starts off quickly. We meet Elise as she explains to us her personal history with and desire to be noticed and no longer the outcast. It is painful. She so desperately wants to be someone else that she changes everything about herself over one summer so she won’t be picked on during her new school year and can hopefully make some friends. It is very painful to read and very emotional to think about how she’s feeling. And has a very similar feel to Hannah’s story in Thirteen Reasons Why. If you have ever struggled with depression or being the class outcast, my guess is that this first chapters will hit very close to home. It is difficult to read but it is actually over pretty quickly and we can move onto the less painful, more healing part of the book. It certainly isn’t all good feelings afterwards, but a lot of what we see is Elise discovering what’s really important to her (being popular? being happy? having friends? being yourself?).
I’m glad I read this book. These topics (depression, suicide, bullying) can be really difficult to think and talk about but it’s important to have books that deal with these subjects and deal with them well. Sometimes people don’t understand the impact their words and actions can have on others around them and this book shows very painfully exactly the effects they can have. If people read this book, I hope that’s something they take away from it. The other thing I hope they take away is hope. Hope that you can be yourself and find others who do appreciate that. Elise eventually finds people that understand her and appreciate her for who she is and what she has to offer. She doesn’t need to change herself like she thought she did.
On the other side, I did have a few problems with the book. My main problem was the MC, Elise. I just didn’t like her. I wanted to. I really wanted to. Especially when we’re told all about her past and her pain. But my problem is that as the story progresses and she goes back out into the world and school, she seems very judgmental and hypocritical. She finally finds people that she can sit with at lunch but then she proceeds to keep herself distanced from them because they aren’t cool enough. These girls are trying to be her friend (the only ones who are) and accepting her into their group but then she just keeps thinking not nice things about them. If her thoughts were based more on her inability to trust classmates, that would be one thing. But it didn’t feel that way and it made me want to slap Elise for doing the same thing to these girls that others were doing to her.
The last issue I have is how easy the fix was for Elise. Sure there are minor setbacks along the way, but everything ends up happy and clean. She wants to DJ? Her dad gets the equipment and she learns to DJ in like two weeks. She wants to be the best at everything? Okay, now she’s the best DJ. It was just a bit too easy of an ending for me for book with such deep and difficult issues. Not everyone will find their true passion at sixteen when they might need it the most. But I hope that’s not how everyone will feel about this book because I know sometimes we want a book to end happily and full of hope. That this book certainly does that.
Overall Feelings: I enjoyed this book even though I had a few issues with it and am really glad I read it. I would recommend it to anyone who reads YA contemporary and likes books that deal with heavy issues. While I wasn’t a huge fan of the MC, she did have a very authentic teenage voice. Also, if music plays a big part in your life I think you would like this book.