Contemporary Summer Fling: This Song Will Save Your Life

Title: This Song Will Save Your Life
Author: Leila Sales
Rating: ★★★★★
Synopsis: 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.

Sam’s reviewHuge thank you to Netgalley and Macmillian’s Children’s publishing for providing me with an ARC.

Upon requesting This Song Will Save Your Life I had no idea what to expect from the novel. I knew it dealt with attempted suicide, but what I wasn’t expecting was the delicious poignant message that Sales presents within the text: finding your true love, your true calling, and never letting it go. This is a story about growth and finding self-acceptence, something I feel like most teens regardless of generation struggle with.

This novel was strange for me considering I’ve been out of high school over ten years and yet I felt like Sales wrote parts of my life in glorious techni-colour. I know what it was like being a girl who was teased, bullied, objectified, and I knew what it was like trying to commit the act and never following through on it. The truth is: I wanted tolive, and this novel even shows how badly Elise wants to live too. It’s hard to accept that people might not like you, it’s even harder to force yourself to be someone you aren’t, and most people never figure out how to truly be happy with themselves. Elise finds love for herself through music and DJing, I find my love through reading, teaching and writing. We all have things that give us the courage to keep going, even just for a little while longer.

Bullying is a tough subject to handle because it’s often done in such a way where it comes across as though everything changes perfectly or change is wrapped up in a nice neat bow — but not in this story. Using an online journal to harm others… it’s something I’ve had happen to me before, even to friends, and you never forget that type of hurt. You never forget that there are people out there who want to hurt you, who want you to suffer, and only question you have to ask yourself is: why? I think why all wonder what we could have done wrong to lose people or not have acceptance. The problem is, people are so quick to judge, something that kept me so engaged and connected to Elise on her journey.

Sales has a way of writing this beautifully raw, screwed up people, and she does it with such a tenderness. I loved Vicky, I adored Elise’s family, Char made me love and hate him at the same time — the emotional connection was there for me throughout the story. Elise’s world is one similar to one of my own in the past, a world I chose to forget about because it hurt too much to look back on. However, this story has so much inner strength and courage, that couldn’t stop turning the pages, because I wanted to see Elise grow stronger by second.

This Song Will Save Your Life is beautiful and real in every way. It’s a great contemporary read that definitely gives pause for reflection and self-identification. When this amazing book releases in September, I urge you all to give it a chance. Hopefully it will touch you the way it did me.

River’s review:  When I first saw the cover for this I thought it was going to be about clubbing and DJing and hip-hop and all the kind of stuff that I hated when I was in university. But it’s not, and I loved this book so fucking much.

See… I could totally relate to Elise. Growing up I was always the ‘weird quite kid who reads a lot’. I tried SO HARD to break out of that and all it ever got me was a floating position as a ‘girl that everyone knows’ but I never had a clique or even really a best friend until later in high school. I was picked on, bullied (mainly in middle school), dumped on… but I tried to overcome it. I dressed the best I could (since my mom refused to shell out $50 for a stupid Abercrombie & Fitch T-shirt and I had to settle for Target brands as well), but never really fit. It wasn’t until my junior year I made a connection with a group of ‘strange’ seniors and it was mainly because of music… and Star Wars. 

I wont get into the Star Wars aspect of it… but the music… that was huge for me. My family was really into country music and my sister liked anything that was popular, but I never liked any of it. And I knew that what I was familiar with was NOT. COOL. So anytime someone would ask me about music I would give vague answers. While reading this book I was so jealous of Elise because she had such a rich musical background. It wasn’t until met that group of kids that I was able to find music that I loved. And then my life spiraled into this craze of shows, mosh-pits, and loud music. I never did go to clubs or have any interactions with DJ’s –I was more into live stuff, but I could totally relate to that part of this story.

I WAS ASTOUNDED by the beautiful writing in this book. I couldn’t put the damn thing down and I was reading it on my stupid iPad and I HATE reading on that (most of the time) but I just had to keep going. The prose pulled me in and I was drinking it up. I also had this hardcore craving for all of the music that I used to listen to in the late 90’s/early 2000’s– music which I basically gave up for Japanese pop when I moved to Japan. Kicking myself I kept Thursday, Taking Back Sunday, Fall Out Boy and 30 Seconds to Mars playing the entire time I was reading this. Sure, it doesn’t match the music talked about in the book, but it matched my mood. And it’s what I needed. 

Another thing I really liked about this is how it touched on a lot of difficult subjects, but didn’t get too heavy handed or preachy with them. Suicide, online bulling (something that I also experienced later on in University), sex, drinking, broken homes… it was a big mix, but a good mix. And the friendships! They were just so wonderfully done. I also loved the ‘anti-romance’ in this. It was just perfect. 

Thank you to Edelweiss for providing me with this ARC!

SO! What do you think about this book??? Will you be picking it up in September? Have you already read it? If you’ve already read it let us know what you loved/ hated! And if you’ve reviewed it, please share your links in the comments!!!

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