Publishing Info: September 17, 2013 by Macmillan
Source: BEA 2013
Genres: Contemporary, Music, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: March 2, 2014
Related Posts: Past Perfect
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.
I feel like I’ve been finally catching up with a lot of books that have received a lot of hype lately and THIS SONG WILL SAVE YOUR LIFE was definitely one of them. I picked up the ARC at BEA, having Leila Sales sign my copy, confident that I would fall in love with the book and this would be one I wanted to keep. Then with all of the hype about the book, praising how honest and amazing it was, my confidence didn’t wane, but the hype did start to allow doubt to set in just a tiiiiiny bit considering my recent track record.
Well, the good news is that I definitely still enjoyed it! Right from the beginning, I connected with Elsie, who has always felt like an outsider in her own life. She’s never been good at making friends, has never been the popular one, and somehow even after trying, she still doesn’t manage to fit in with really anyone at all. I felt so bad for her and just couldn’t grasp what exactly was wrong with every single kid at her school and why Elise couldn’t manage to get in good with anyone. In a way, I totally related to her. I wasn’t ever one of the popular girls in middle school (or high school, but I had stopped caring by then) and in a class of only twenty-four kids for pre-school through eighth grade, it was glaringly obvious when you weren’t a part of the “in” crowd and that was something I struggled with for a long time. That fact alone allowed me to connect with Elsie on many levels so I really appreciated that character connection and directly tapping in to my personal experiences.
I finished THIS SONG WILL SAVE YOUR LIFE in two days. I almost finished it in one afternoon but you know… Life got in the way. Anyway, I was utterly captivated and reading about Elsie’s story was both incredibly interesting and heartbreaking… But unfortunately for me, this just wasn’t a book that really stuck with me. I was totally sucked in as I was reading but only those pivotal moments in the beginning of the book really stuck with me after I finished and sitting here writing my review weeks later, I don’t feel the magic with me still that many other fans of the book did.
I think my lack of feelings towards the book may be because I didn’t connect with the rest of it as much. You see, Elise falls in love with a DJ but more so, she falls in love with DJing. It’s something she never even considered doing but she does love music and once she starts this new craft, she completely throws herself into it, determined to be the best she can be. I certainly know a thing or two about that having spent much of my time in high school perfecting the crafts that I could. I absolutely loved how much Elise loved music and I also loved the music featured and the bands that were named dropped (I even begged Twitter to let me know if there was a playlist. There is!!), but I just didn’t connect with the whole underground club scene and I wasn’t a huge fan of Elise’s new friends that she met there. I didn’t dislike them, but I wasn’t a huge fan of Pippa and the whole quasi-triangle thing between Elise, Char, and Pippa. I didn’t have major issues while I was reading, but it seems like the more things I think about as I review, the more things I notice that I just didn’t quite connect with.
I loved the message that this book sends and I absolutely could have used a book like this when I was in junior high or high school. I went through so many of the same things that Elise did — maybe not as extreme, but I had plenty of friend issues and especially in junior high, the constant wonder of the arbitrary system of who’s popular and who isn’t — and I think it’s definitely an important read if you’ve gone through anything like this (chances are, you have). I really loved how the book wrapped up and seeing Elise go through so many personal changes and revelations. For me, I think the hype monster did get me just a little bit. It’s hard to go into a book when everyone else raves about it and while I did enjoy it a lot, I’m not sure it’s sky-rocketed to a favorite for me.
I love how this book made me think back on my own history and it sort of brought a personal peace. I’ve already made peace with these things a while ago, but it’s always nice to have that reassurance that being popular or having a ton of friends doesn’t necessarily equal personal success. It’s about the quality of friends. The importance of family. The level of enjoyment you allow yourself to have in life. Most of all, THIS SONG WILL SAVE YOUR LIFE tells us all that be whoever you are, no matter who that person is. Your dreams are so much easier to follow when you’re true to yourself and life is just so much more fulfilling that way.
“The View from Goodreads” is a new featured section in my reviews that I decided to incorporate! I tend to update my Goodreads status a LOT when I read — reactions, feelings, notes — so I thought it would be fun to share the sort of “reading process”! All status updates are spoiler-free (no specific plot points will be revealed) but will contain reactions to certain pages and/or characters!
Ew, typo in the first status update. Guess I was just too excited! Also, where was this supposed to take place? There was a mention of the Illinois fair but no such town exists in IL. HMMM.
Elise // Character Obsessions: Music, researching popularity, DJing.
I felt so bad for Elise, mostly because I had been in her shoes. I feel like so many people, especially girls, can relate to Elise’s experiences. Sometimes it’s hard not to be popular or to have a lot of friends and for Elise, it wasn’t almost more scientific at times than actually a strong desire to be popular. Elise just didn’t want to be alone anymore. Didn’t want to be made fun of. Her story was heartbreaking and yet uplifting and I really loved seeing her go through the various changes and the road of self-discovery throughout the book.
Char // Character Obsessions: Music, DJing, girls.
Char was… confusing. It was hard for me to really understand him and I think that was the point. I was always worried for Elise and what her relationship with him might become and I was afraid of his potential to hurt her. I actually ended up disliking him a lot, if we’re just being honest here, and I was very protective of Elise whenever he was in the picture! I am happy for his willingness to teach her how to DJ though.
Kept Me Hooked On: The unexpected. Who would expect a book about a teenage DJ to be such a success? I love how the readers were introduced to something so extraordinary and uncommon and making it something amazing. I loved that the book wasn’t entirely smashed in the city too. Elise lives a suburban life… And yet somehow ends up in this hidden underground world of music, dancing, and nightlife.
Left Me Wanting More: Emotion. Oh, there were plenty of things to be emotional about in this book, but I felt like Elise herself was more calculating and scientific about things at times than emotional. I think I always connect with a more emotional side because I’m really able to just lose myself.
This is definitely a book that even though it didn’t end up as a total favorite, I’d still recommend to everyone to read. It’s an important journey regarding self-worth, family, friendships, and following your dreams. I think most of us have gone through was Elise did in one degree or another and it’s definitely something that helped me reflect on my own past and come to a certain peace about how things went down in junior high and high school, even more so than I thought I already had.
(Click the cover to see my review!)