This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
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.
After reading Emily’s brave and beautifully honest review of this book I really wanted to read it. Where she spoke about how much she related to Elise because she was like Elise, I’d like to speak from the opposite end of the spectrum because I don’t think you have to have been in Elise’s shoes to appreciate her story or her struggles. You see, I was definitely not this main character in high school.
I was popular. I was outgoing. I stuck up for myself at loud volumes. I played sports, had a ton of friends, got invited to parties, was the runner up to prom queen my senior year, dated older guys, won best dressed in the year book, you get the picture. Now put your damn pitchfork down, I wasn’t a mean girl either. I hung out with everyone. And I mean everyone. In part this was because I never felt like there was one group that was really ‘for me’ but also I was just highly social because I come from a massive (and loud) family and organized chaos is kind of a theme in my life. Having friends that were hippies and jocks and punks and Goths and geeks was just an extension of that chaos and so I bounced from one group to another and back again pretty regularly.
But you see, even surrounded by people, I was still lonely sometimes. Even surrounded by people, I felt like I didn’t belong sometimes. While my friends talked about boys and movies and music and “Oh my god, did you hear about…” I dreamt of a world in which vampires stalked the night and the howls of werewolves echoed through the forest that surrounded my house. While sitting in class I relived the last chapters I had read before falling asleep the night before. In my mind, battles between orcs and elves took place on blood drenched fields while dragons winged past overhead. Every day I counted down the hours until I could get home and continue reading because the world I lived in while I was shut up in my room was infinitely more magical than the one I lived in outside of it.
None of my friends knew about my obsession.
What I’m trying to say is that even if you aren’t outwardly similar to Elise, on some basic level you’ll relate to and empathize with her because at its core, this book is about being different. It’s about being lonely and misunderstood. Who of us hasn’t felt that way at one point or another?
This book is also about acceptance, growth and self actualization. It’s about finding something that helps define who you are as a person. It’s about that thing, that one thing that’s yours and yours alone. For Elise it’s DJing. For me, it was reading. For you it was probably something else, maybe video games, maybe drawing, maybe singing but it was that one thing that gave you something to get lost in. It was a place to forget about who you were and who you were supposed to be and what people thought of you and what you thought of you.
You probably want to know about the plot huh?
I…well…you see…hmmm. Okay, so I took pages of reading notes while devouring this novel but I don’t even know how to translate them into something coherent here because they’re pretty much nothing but my feelings. And I’m sure you don’t want to read paragraphs of “First I was sad, then I was-” so just know that this book made me not only feel but it made me think. It brought me back to those awkward phases in my life and made me thankful all over again that reading allowed me the escape I so desperately needed. It made me remember all those moments that I made selfish decisions and took for granted the good things that were right in front of me. It made me feel less alone in my actions and my regrets and it made me so happy and so thankful that I grew out of those stages and have become the woman I am today.
I don’t want to go into too much detail about the plot or Elise’s progression as a character because I honestly feel that as much as I loved this book, my reflections on it might dissuade someone from reading this and that I don’t want.
Let me say this instead; at times my heart was broken for Elise and at others I wanted to throttle her but it’s okay because I was meant to feel these things and I enjoyed every damn emotion. Even when I was so anxious I sort of wanted to throw up. Even when I was so mad for Elise that I wanted to scissor kick someone in her defense. Even when I was so sad I wanted to cry and even when I was so happy I wanted to do the same.
Just…just read it, okay?