Release: 10th October 2013
Genre: Contemporary, Coming of Age, YA
Source: Received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review
"All her life, Elise Dembowski has been an outsider. Starting a new school, she dreams of fitting in at last – but when her best attempts at popularity fail, she almost gives up. Then she stumbles upon a secret warehouse party. There, at night, Elise can be a different person, making real friends, falling in love for the first time, and finding her true passion – DJ’ing. But when her real and secret lives collide, she has to make a decision once and for all: just who is the real Elise?"
“Sometimes people think they know you. They know a few facts about you, and they piece you together in a way that makes sense to them. And if you don't know yourself very well, you might even believe that they are right. But the truth is, that isn't you. That isn't you at all.” ― Leila Sales, This Song Will Save Your Life
This Song Will Save Your Life is Leila Sales’ UK debut. I’d heard brilliant things about Leila’s books from US bloggers and was excited to finally check out this author. I went into this book expecting a fun, contemporary story about a girl who loves music and whilst that is somewhat true this book goes so much deeper than that and deals with bullying, self-harm, suicide and self-worth to name a few of the topics covered in this book. This Song Will Save Your Life hit me right in the feels and had me emotionally invested in Elise’s story. It’d be fair to say that I wasn’t expecting to love this book as much as I did. Leila Sales – I underestimated you.
Elise is an outcast. She’s an intelligent girl who cares for her family and has a passion for good music. She’s a good person yet she doesn’t fit in to social conceptions at school and although she tries to fit in she’s awkward and feels like she doesn’t belong. Elise is isolated and lonely and carries this inner rage and embarrassment at herself for not being ordinary, for standing out, for being smart, for being special. In high school being different is the worst thing you could possibly be. You have to be normal and blend in else you become a target for the small minded which is exactly what Elise becomes.
“I had this feeling suddenly. I get this feeling a lot, but I don’t know if there’s one word for it. It’s not nervous or sad or even lonely. It’s all of that, and then a bit more. The feeling is I don’t belong here. I don’t know how I got here, and I don’t know how long I can stay before everyone else realizes that I am an impostor. I am a fraud. I’ve gotten this feeling nearly everywhere I have ever been in my life. There’s nothing you can do about it except drink some water and hope that it subsides. Or you can leave.” ― Leila Sales, This Song Will Save Your Life
Right from the start I connected with Elise and understood how hard it is to be different and stay true to who you are in a world that demands you be just like everybody else to get along smoothly in life. This book captures those feelings of inadequacy perfectly. On the flip side this book also shows how your passions and interests can save your life – in Elise’s case that’s her music and being a DJ. It brings out the best in her, draws likeminded people into her life, gives her an escape from the bullying and most importantly provides her with a home and community that embrace her exactly as she is. At its heart I guess you could call this book a coming of age story but it’s also about hope and embracing the things that make you different and so many other wonderful things that make this book special.
“I don't believe that anyone who is a legitimately interesting person can be popular as a teenager," Mel went on. "Or ever, maybe. Popularity rewards the uninteresting.” ― Leila Sales, This Song Will Save Your Life
The most important relationship in this book is the relationship Elise has with herself. But I also loved the relationship she has with her family and the friendships she makes throughout the book. I also loved the relationship Elise had with Char - but not in the way you’d imagine. Char is Elise’s love interest throughout the book but they don’t exactly have a healthy relationship or one that you’re desperate to see work out. We all know a guy like Char who messes girls around and takes advantage of girls with low self-esteem. Char is as insecure and selfish as they come and I LOVED that Leila Sales decided to showcase a relationship that girls are more likely to experience as teenagers as opposed to the happily ever after romances that are so popular in YA. Everything about this book was so raw and honest and I absolutely loved that about it.
This Song Will Save Your Life is the kind of book that made my heart ache with emotion and I’d thoroughly recommend it. You’ll connect with and root for Elise throughout and will close the book emotionally exhausted due to feels overload. This Song Will Save Your Life unexpectedly crawled under my skin and nestled into my heart where I imagine it will stay for a long time to come.