Release Date: September 2013
Publisher: Macmillan | Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Pages: 288 pages
Source & Format: Bought; Kindle e-book
Amazon | Goodreads
Summary (from Goodreads)
Making friends has never been Elise Dembowski's strong suit. All throughout her life, she's been the butt of every joke and the outside 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.
Thoughts on This Song Will Save Your Life
I bought This Song Will Save Your Life on the same day that I purchased Past Perfect - deciding to jump right on the Leila Sales bandwagon. The buzz had been building for this recent release, but I couldn't stop myself from snagging the other book, too, because of it was set in a historical reenactment village. I read Past Perfect first, and I absolutely fell in love the book and characters. It was funny, charming and just my kind of read.
Despite seeing a million review for This Song Will Save Your Life around the blogosphere, I had read very little about this book. So, I went into expecting something along the lines of Past Perfect. Imagine my surprise when it opened with a (sort of) suicide attempt in the very first chapter. Elise Dembowski doesn't fit in, and she's basically friendless. The one thing Elise is good at? Throwing herself into a project with a fevered intensity and learning a new skill in the process. She decides to spend the summer learning how to be popular, but reading magazines and buying new clothes will only get you so far.
It made my stomach psychically hurt to read about Elise being rejected by her classmates. She has such low self-esteem, and it's painful to be inside her head at times. I found Elise's voice so interesting for its complete nonchalance in describing her social ostracism. And then something changes. Elise discovers a secret, underground nightclub called START, and her whole world opens up. No one knows her here. She can be someone different - or at the very least break out of the role that she's been stuck in at school.
I found so much to enjoy about Elise's time at START. It starts with her discovering DJing. She's always loved music, but she realizes for the first time that she can use that passion for something that brings joy to others. She watches Char, START's Thursday night DJ, command a crowd and immediately wants to throw herself into learning how to DJ. One small taste of that power has Elise hooked. I really loved this aspect of Elise's personality because my blog name comes from the fact that I'll randomly get so obsessed with something that I want to do, make, buy, learn, etc. Like Elise, I can't stop myself from pursuing a project that catches my fancy.
With DJing, Elise's passion actually brings her closer to people. She's always been so alienated, but START introduces to new friends and a possible love interest. Elise will do anything to keep this world a secret from the people who know her in "real life" - to protect it from outsiders who won't understand this new side of her. But I loved reading about what happens when Elise's fears finally come true...
I like music, but it's not my passion. Honestly, it's not what drew me to this book or helped me connect to it. In many ways, I connected more to Past Perfect than this book. However, I still really appreciated Elise's growth as a character and struggle with her insecurity. This Song Will Save Your Life was a lot darker than I expected, but it had a charming, authentic heroine in search of her identity.
There's bullying, rejection and all the pain that's associated... but there's also such passion and joy in Elise discovering her passion and place in her world. In the process, she's able to strengthen her relationship with her parents and make new friends who are cheering her on and rooting for her to succeed. In the end, I loved Past Perfect just a bit more, but I'm definitely a huge fan of Leila Sales now!
"Music wasn't history class; I didn't need to memorize a thousand dates and names. I just cared a lot about music. You'd think this might make me cool, since music is supposedly cool, but it doesn't work like that. It turns out that caring a lot about anything is, by definition, uncool, and it doesn't matter if that thing is music or Star Wars or oil refineries."