December 2, 2013

Review: This Song Will Save Your Life

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This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales
Grade: B+
Summary: 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.

The Good: With suicide, you don't have to reach some deep, dark place of no return like in Thirteen Reasons Why.  No, you can just feel so alone and rejected, and one not-so-bad grade can topple everything.  That's what happens to Elise Dembowsi in This Song Will Save Your Life.  What I liked so much about this book was how real it felt.  The emotions, the friendships, the bullies, and so forth.  Not everything is happily resolved.  Elise doesn't get revenge on the bullies, which is something I can relate to. (I mean, eventually, I'll technically get my revenge in print, but that's different.)  I thought I hated Chava and Sally, but then I realized how nice they were (despite naively believing that online journal was really Elise's) and how stupid Elise was for pretentiously tolerating them.  Sure, she found a better friend in Vicky, but Chava and Sally were lovely friends, too.  I liked how the romance turned out, too.  It was only a subplot, there was no love triangle, and the resolution was lovely.  The setting was different (Arizona), and the cast of characters was diverse (one not-super-skinny girl, a Brit, a towering bouncer with a heart of gold, etc.).

The Bad: Can we just talk about how Elise's stepdad turned out to be a complete jerk?  There was this one scene where he called her unsafe and didn't want her around her half-brother and half-sister, and her mom didn't even stand up for her and his words were never revisited.  Sure, what Elise did was big (*SPOILER* She completely mutilated her sister's cardboard poetry castle *SPOILER*), but she wasn't endangering Alex or Neil at all.
Also, I think Elise got off a little too easy in the end.  Yes, I wanted her to get her big DJing gig, but if my parents found out I'd been sneaking out to an underground club and DJing until the wee hours of the morning every Thursday night, I'd be locked in a tower and the key would be thrown away.

The Ugly: Language (s-word was the worst, I think), romance was about PG-13, some underage drinking, although I don't think Elise ever drank

The Verdict: This Song Will Save Your Life?  No, This Book Will Change Your Life. :)

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