This Song Will Save Your Life
by Leila Sales
Published: 17 September 2013
by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
Hardcover, 276 pages
All her life, Elise Dembowski has been an outsider. Starting a new school, she dreams of fitting in at last – but when her best attempts at popularity fail, she almost gives up. Then she stumbles upon a secret warehouse party. There, at night, Elise can be a different person, making real friends, falling in love for the first time, and finding her true passion – DJ’ing.
But when her real and secret lives collide, she has to make a decision once and for all: just who is the real Elise?
An irresistible novel about hope, heartbreak and the power of music to bring people together.
Unlike many reviews I’ve seen of This Song Will Save Your Life, I’m not going to wax poetry about how relatable a character Elise was. Instead of empathizing with her, I felt more sympathy and pity towards her. That might be due to the fact that I don’t usually mix well with books dealing with the topic of bullying. I’m one of those people who are pretty unaffected by whatever others say about me so it’s harder for me to see eye to eye with someone who cares a lot about how others think.
However, the difference between Elise and other protagonists that had been bullied was that she could still think logically. It relieved me greatly that Elise was a smart girl and knew when she was being dramatic and/or stupid.
Although This Song Will Save Your Life revolved a lot around music, I can’t say I knew many of the songs mentioned. Generally, most people would find my taste in music bad and I’m pretty sure Elise would’ve agreed (she didn’t seem like the sort who would love Taylor Swift, Fifth Harmony, The Wanted & all the other pop artists I listen to). Despite not knowing much of the music, I could still feel the suitability of each mentioned song with its respective scenes simply by the title or the lyrical quotes.
As for the characters, they all seemed quite vibrant on the surface but lacked a certain realistic quality and depth, apart from Elise and her family. Vicky and Elise’s friendship did not have enough development so it seemed as if they became best friends just out of the blue. Admittedly, I always thought Char was not the permanent & lasting sort of guy but whether or not I was right would not be mentioned for the sake of preventing spoilers. It is also worth mentioning that the romance was not a humongous part of the story.
This Song Will Save Your Life was not as spectacular as I had wished it would be but it was still a thoroughly emotional and lovely read. Actually, for the first time ever, I cried out of pity for a character. I usually bawl over books when I put myself in whatever horrid situation the character is in but with Elise, just thinking about anyone else feeling the way she did made me want to die from sorrow.
I might even have been in denial that life could be so unfair and cruel. But that could be due to the fact that I’ve never been bullied or never really noticed had I ever been bullied.
All in all, This Song Will Save Your Life was an intense but quick read with sprinkles of hilarity and dollops of meaningful life lessons. Any fan of contemporary YA fiction would most likely gobble this one up!