Review Take Two: This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales

Friday, July 19, 2013

Title: This Song Will Save Your Life
Author: Leila Sales
Genre: young adult, contemporary
Series: N/A
Pages: 288 (ARC edition)
Published: expected September 27 2013
Source:publishers via NetGalley
Rating: 5/5

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.

Reviewed by Danielle

This post, (and book,) may be triggering for bullying, self harm, and suicide. Please be safe.

This Song Will Save Your Life speaks to me so clearly. The first two chapters are the most honest, poignant depictions of that crushing sense of depression that comes with being bullied. The way Elise describes little things piling up until it does seem like the only logical choice is to kill yourself, is so, so true. I know, because I was there. I felt like I was drowning, so I decided to.


I didn’t go through with it. Someone recognized my cry for attention. A few months later, I became really active in the internet/book community for the first time and I felt like I had a safe place. And in that way, I relate to Elise again. She may have been sneaking off to an underground dance club after midnight while I was roleplaying in a chat room, but the point is being able to find yourself and people who like and respect you. Life doesn’t become sunshine and unicorns, but it does get a whole lot better when you know you’re not alone.

I don’t even want to review TSWSYL. I want to buy you all a copy and let you experience trauma and love at the hand of Leila Sales. But, since Macmilllan was nice enough to give me a review copy, let me just bullet point my favorite things.

  • Swearing! From a teenager! In YA!
  • No love triangle! No finding wuv, twue wuv in high school! Poor romantic decisions!
    • Including sex! That isn’t magical and perfect with the boy you love forever! From YA!
  • Different kinds of friends and different friend groups. Not everyone is your BFFFFFF or worst enemy.
  • Precocious, not perfect main character. There’s a difference.
  • Elise’s growth, especially with the kids at school, without resorting to cheesy cliches like "bullies are actually the most troubled" and shit.
  • Divorced parents who don’t like each other but can be civil for their kid.
  • Queer characters, characters of color, characters of size, douchebags, prisses, every kind of side character.
  • Honestly, this book is my whole freshman/sophomore years and it’s perfect. 

One thing I didn’t like:

  • Elise’s stepdad and how he spoke to her. Seriously, her mom should never have let that happen and it’s never mentioned again. I get that he’s upset, but that was so, so not OK and her mom didn’t say anything. Really disappointing showing from all the adults.

I’m just overflowing with appreciation and goodwill for this book. I can’t think of anyone who has experienced bullying or loneliness that wouldn’t get emotional about it, but it’s also funny and heartfelt and genuine. As I initially posted when I finished, I’ve never loved a contemporary novel this much.

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