This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales
Published: September 17, 2013 by BYR
Source: ARC from the publisher via netgalley - thanks!
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. [goodreads]
When I first came across this book, the title alone jumped out at me. Countless times I've heard music in my life, especially during my teen years, that I felt literally saved my life. A certain lyric, a hypnotic voice, a gut wrenching guitar; whatever the melody was that captured me and freed me, I connected with it. This particular story is about just doing that. Finding that right tune to symbolize everything in your life, yet representing absolutely nothing at the same time. Music can be a life source of its own, living and breathing, and we have the power to let it run in our veins.
Elise is that girl you see in the cafeteria lunch room, either eating alone, or with others who fade into the beige walls. She's only the topic of conversation when someone needs a punching bag. My heart immediately went out to her, but I didn't want to embrace her and tell her everything would be alright, because I got the sense she was a smart girl and would eventually figure that out. It would just take time.
In the middle of the night, she stumbles upon an underground dance party, that invites her in to a world she never knew existed. In this world she can be anyone she wants. And quickly she is no longer that nobody at school, but the rising DJ of the hottest dance club in town. Elise knows music, but not the textbook kind. She feels music all around her, and inside her bones. It's something she can identify with, and for the first time in a long time is something she can control.
One of my favorite aspects of Leila Sales' writing is her ability to write such fleshed out characters. I found Elise, Vicky, Char, Mel, and even the school bullies to be real life people, their pulses vibrating off the page. This attention to characterization truly grabbed me and pulled me into the story, creating a fictional world that I did not want to leave. Then came the music. I would catch myself nodding my head to some silent beat that rang in my ears as I read each song mentioned chapter after chapter. I was having my own personal dance party, right alongside Elise and Vicky.
When a book begins with this song, and ends with that one, you know you just experienced something great. I feel like Leila reached into my own playlists and pulled out two songs that would not only define Elise's story so well, but cause me to fall in love with it, too.
image taken from an egalley ARC
This novel will win over fans of contemporary, especially those who appreciate stories about characters overcoming hardships in life, especially involving music to fuel those leaps above and beyond. I have so much admiration for Leila Sales, and this story in particular. I hope others will experience it and perhaps find their song that just might save their life, too.