This Song Will Save Your Life
Genre: Contemporary, YA
Publication date: September 17th 2013
by Straus and Giroux (BYR)
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.
-A copy was provided by Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group for review-
What an amazing, awe-inspiring book! This Song Will Save Your Life is emotional and beautiful; a story that will bring out your happy-tears by its conclusion!
Once in a while there are books where you get to fully and completely connect to the main character to such a degree that you experience it all as if it was your own story with your own emotions. This was one of those books for me. Elise made it incredibly easy to love her. She’s funny and smart, but she has never fit in with her classmates. She has an artist’s soul, giving all her passion to what she loves; not awarding great importance to frivolous things like fashion or gossip unsurprisingly makes her an outcast at school. The struggles she faces by daring to be herself is heartbreaking. Leila did a great job at making this major part in the story all so very real and relatable. While it had the potential to be an overwhelmingly sad story, instead it focuses on being uplifting, even inspirational. Elise never loses track of who she is, keeping her focus on what makes her happy instead of giving up. She is an amazing person through and through regardless of her flaws. Her doubts, insecurities, and fears captures the feelings of not fitting in to a T.
When Elise does find out where she belongs by doing something she loves – being a DJ – I felt so extremely happy for her. Think about a time you got some great news that made you giddy happy the rest of the day. This was how I felt by the end of this book, complete with happy tears blurring the words. Not even kidding, I could feel the energy of the crowd and the adrenaline pounding Elise’s heart with thrill and nervous energy in those moments in the DJ booth. Along the way we meet some witty, energetic characters to color these pages. Even with the smallest of roles – bouncer Mel for instance – they brighten the story every chance they get.
This novel is honest in its entirety, not just with the depiction of high school. Leila approaches romance and sex in a very realistic light, for one. It’s not always black and white with happily ever afters. Sometimes romance is just an experience; unclear and lustful, not all-empowering love. I also appreciated that romance was not used – nor needed – to move this story. Furthermore, Elise has a wonderful family unit – 2 actually – that were a significant part of this novel. Her mother’s house is loud with family dinners and siblings that you grow to adore as much as she does. Her father’s house is where you get to veg on the couch silently, but together. These are parents who are refreshingly understanding and supportive of their kids’ passion. I loved this, it completed the package.
I do think this novel will impact some more profoundly than others, likely dependent on your own high school experience and identity. No matter, it’s beautifully written with so much heart – a book well worth your time!