tswsylThis Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales
Release Date: September 17, 2013
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux BYR
Source: Library
Rating: starstarstarstarblank_star
Buy It: Amazon | IndieBound

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.

Remember how I hate contemporary, guys? You know how I won’t read it because I hate shmoopy romance and all contemporary has shmoopy romance? I WAS WRONG. I’ve been on a tear reading contemporary novels, and this is the latest in a series of successes. Now, this involves a little suspension of disbelief, since being a DJ isn’t something you can usually just do without learning software and the like. Elise’s redemption was a little too cutesy and tied up too nicely, but this one is so worth your while for Elise’s journey alone. Elise has never had a real friend in her life. She’s a little weird, very smart, and just kind of socially awkward. She thinks she’s into things that others her age aren’t, but really she’s been beaten down by relentless bullying (something I can relate to). I’ve started reading more novels about bullying and serious issues because I relate to them and it’s so important for kids to know they aren’t alone.

Elise has loving parents, but her mother has started a new family, so she’s busy, and Elise has never been a rule breaker. Her parents don’t think she needs watching…until she tries to kill herself. (And even that is sort of an accident.) To get away, Elise starts wandering at night and discovers the thing that saves her life: music. DJing, more specifically. Vicky, Pippa, and Char are so real it hurts. Pippa is the kind of girl who believes she can change men, one of those girls who loses interest when she finally attracts a guy, and she’s met her match in Char. Char doesn’t care and won’t be her boyfriend, so when Pippa is sent away, Elise thinks it’s okay to start messing around with Char. She doesn’t know the social rules yet, but she learns, and what I really liked is that Char didn’t end up saving Elise or being her savior. He’s just a guy.

The things Elise learns along the way are so important, and the relationship she has with her parents is equally heartbreaking and heartwarming. They don’t really know the depths of the bullying Elise faces day to day until later in the book. Things work out for Elise, and I think everyone should read this book if they have time and inclination. Sales has a really accessible writing style, and the story never feels boring or slow. I liked this one a lot, and I’d definitely be interested in more stories from Sales.