Book: This Song Will Save Your Life
Author/Authoress: Leila Sales
An ordinary girl wearing huge headphones (on closer inspection, I realized that they’re the type that DJ’s wear) and glasses (which everyone somehow manages to connect to geeks) is featured on the cover. And, I guess it makes sense. I’m more annoyed with the huge title and how it manages to take up 95% of the cover. Besides I don’t really like the pink letters which spell out love- which is not the main premise of the story.
Elise, the main character, has spent her entire childhood knowing that she’s different. Maybe even weird. And she’s been ostracized for it. This book deals with bullying at a primal level. It deals with the desire to fit in and to have friends. And everything about this book is spot on. I really felt for Elise as she explained her reasoning to spend an entire summer learning how to be ‘cool’. How she spent exorbitant amounts of clothes and researched and memorized pop culture. At the same time I sort of wanted to shake her and ask her ‘Why the hell do you want to pretend to be someone your not?’ And the funny thing is, Elise answered my question perfectly. She wasn’t hoping for a miracle-to become popular. All she wanted was to fit in, find a group of friends and NOT be ostracized. Unfortunately, she manages to mess that up in school leading her to attempt suicide. She goes as far as to make a ‘dying’ playlist and slash her wrists before realizing she really does want to live and that this was just a call for attention. And it does give her attention. Negative attention from her parents and worse from the people at school. Someone starts writing a parody blog in her name about why she was so desperate to kill herself. She spends most of the book regretting her actions and wishing she could take it back and wondering if some parts of the blog are actually true. The other parts of the book she spends establishing herself at a club. Her love for music initially helps her to fit in but she soon learns that it’s her personality which helps her to make friends. And she learns that she has a huge talent for DJing. The fact that she was able to take her passion, music and become an amazing DJ was a huge inspration to me personally. I’d like to think that we’re all just talented enough to do what we love even if we’re much younger than traditionally expected. I think all of us can identify a little bit with Elise’s character, either to a greater or smaller extent. I’d strongly suggest you read Emily May’s review of this book. She’s explained Elise’s character much more eloquently and with more feeling than I ever could have.
I love Elise’s friends too. Vicky is the practical, bubbly girl who plays in a band, Pippa is the partying wild child and Char is a mysterious, professional DJ. All of these characters were three dimensional. They were real people who had real lives. Another thing I loved was the fact that just having friends didn’t make Elise’s life perfect. Sure, they made her life easier but ultimately Elise was the star of her show. They don’t know about Elise’s harsh past which makes their connections plenty times stronger and a hundred times more believable.
Elise’s family was perfect too. Her parents are divorced and not particularly good terms with each other but both of them are very supportive of Elise. You can see the love and affection that binds them all together. From the crazy, animal-pretending,over-achieving-carbon copy of her older sister, younger sister to her dad who used to be in a band, they really do support each other.
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
Personally, I loved this book. And I have to say, Leila Sales gets kudos points for developing this plot. Parts of it were sad, parts of it were profound and parts of it were fun. But all of it was realistic. If I were to ever write a book, I’d like to keep this one as a yardstick to measure it against.
The romance was the slow ‘we became more than friends’ type and I loved it for that fact. Char and Elise’s romance was a complicated thing and it was beautiful while it lasted but it was riddled with problems. First of all, there was the age gap. Elise was 16 while Char was in his 20’s. Not to mention, his reluctance to give away the details of his non-DJ life. Then, there was the fact that Elise found Char insensitive at times. And that her friend, Pippa was in love with him. When you look at all of these things, it’s not really surprising that they broke up. Although that’s not the reason Elise focused on. Elise felt that Char was happy with her only as long as she fit into the mould of the girl he wanted her to be. As soon as she became a more successful and popular DJ than him, he couldn’t see himself with her anymore. I can’t judge whether this was the main reason they broke up or not since the whole book was in Elise’s point of view but it definitely was a contributing factor. But Char somewhat redeemed himself towards the end when he wished her good luck for her debut as a real Friday night DJ. First loves rarely last but they are sweet as long as they do.
You need to read this book as soon as possible. It’s beautiful and profound with an interesting MC and a great set of secondary characters. There are some books which stay with you forever and This Song Will Save Your Life is definitely one of them. I’ve already read it thrice and I expect I’ll read it several more times. It’s definitely ‘classic’ material.