Title: This Song Will Save Your Life
Author: Lelia Sales
Publisher: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux
Publication Date: September 17, 2013
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.
I had mixed feelings about this book. On the one hand, there were certainly things I liked about it. On the other, other pieces of it turned me off a little bit. This was one of my most anticipated fall debuts and one of the books I was most excited about getting from BEA, and while there are a lot of special things about it, I still haven’t entirely sorted out my feelings for it.
One of the main problems I had with this book was with the main character, Elise. I like an underdog story as much as the next person, but with Elise, most of the time I just felt pity for her. I realize that we are supposed to sympathize with her, of course, but stories where I just feel bad for the protagonist don’t really sit well with me. I also disliked some of her decisions, namely spending less time with her dad to DJ and destroying Alex’s poetry castle, which bothered me a lot more. I know she sort of explains why she did it, which was to protect her sister from the social life she had to deal with, but I ended up not really believing it.
One of the things I did like, however, was Elise’s relationship with Char. It’s very unusual to have a sort of non-romantic sexual relationship in YA lit, so it made the book more interesting for me. I was also glad that in the end, though Elise realizes Char isn’t actually all that charming, it doesn’t destroy her or make her lose more confidence in herself.
I also found the DJ-ing aspect of this book interesting. DJ-ing is a subject I’ve never read about, but I do love YA books about musical prodigies, so Lelia Sales definitely gets brownie points for that. DJ-ing is what gives Elise a new confidence in the end, so that was another bonus factor for me.
Though ultimately This Song Will Save Your Life didn’t meet my expectations, it does discuss important issues such as bullying and confidence building, and I do think many people will find it empowering.