Hardcover, 288 pages
Published September 17th 2013 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
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.
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Long Story Short:
While this book was not the most entertaining I've read, it certainly contains a strong message that is worth waiting for. Leila Sales crawls into the skin of a desperate teenage girl and her dealings with bullying and feeling left out. At the same time she shows what lies beyond the more dreadful parts of life. At some points, I found the plot rather dragging, the never-changing routine of school lunch tables and homework didn't keep me at the edge of my seat. However, if you want a book that will make you think and that delivers an important lesson everyone has to learn in life, this novel is for you.
What turns This Song Will Save Your Life from good to great is the aspect of identification. Everyone has felt left out at some point, especially in Highschool it seems obligatory.
With that in mind, it is still so easy for authors to mess it up. Way too often have I put down a book, feeling laughed at or misunderstood by authors who tried to picture how life really is for those who don't belong to the group. Leila Sales does not tap into that trap once - she displays Elise's situation realistically, with an outlook that was surprisingly honest.
Sales did not focus too much on what other people do to Elise, there are no incidents of stolen journals, or mean gossip or physical violence. This Song Will Save Your Life is about what this feeling out of place does to Elise, how she questions everything she's ever done, how she tries so hard to learn the "rules" of fitting in. How she knows what others do is "not her thing", but still tries to mirror them because she thinks something is wrong with her. This Song Will Save Your Life, frankly, shows what it means to lose all confidence in youself, because everything that makes you you, apparently, is what puts other people off from liking you.
As the story progresses, Elise does something that will change her life. It might be the song, although I am not so sure about that. What she finds is a group of people she clicks with. And that message, in my opinion, is a very important one. It doesn't matter how hard you try to change yourself - if the people you change for don't click with you naturally, they never, ever will.
The message in the novel is a strong one, and an important one and this alone is why I would recommend the book to as many people as possible. Additionally, Sales goes out of her way to picture the life and emotions of a teenage girl, some heartbreaking moments and thoughts included just like sarcastic commentary that chimes along with her environment and all those people who just don't get her.
So, all in all, This Song Will Save Your Life is worth a read for the story and the message that it carries.