Review: This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales
Author: Leila Sales
Publisher: Farrar Straus Giroux Books For Young Readers, an imprint of Macmillan
Publication Date: 2013
Age Group/Genre: Young Adult/Contemporary
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. (Cover and synopsis from Goodreads.)
A Hard, But Important Read…
This Song Will Save Your Life was SO HARD to read. It just drudged up all these memories that I was quite happy to leave in the past. Elise suffers at the hand of so much bullying and it just hurt my heart. I felt for her, as I feel for anyone who has been bullied, but I also felt for her because I’ve been there. I’ve been the girl who is constantly made fun of, the girl who eats her lunch in the bathroom, the girl who sits and takes it when people do these horrible things to her.
And you need to know, in case it’s a trigger or hard subject for you–this book deals with the issue of suicide. I feel like it handles it in a very interesting way, and it is very hard to read, but I think it’s important for people to read books like this. I think it’s especially important for teens who might not be dealing with bullying to see what it feels like. And of course, it can help those who are dealing with bullying, to help them realize that it can, and does, get better.
Basically, while reading this book, I was sent into a spiral of hard memories: being made fun of for my glasses in elementary school; being the new girl in intermediate school and being made fun of for my haircut; not being “sophisticated” enough for my former friends in junior high; having my food spit on in high school; eating lunch in the cafeteria at my second high school when I was, once again, the new girl. Now, many of these things that happened to me were SO tame in comparison to what happens to Elise, but I was able to have at least a basic level of empathy for her. And it worries me that my kids will one day have to go through these things. I know I’m a better person for going through all of this (it’s definitely made me stronger and more open-minded and compassionate), but I hate the idea of my sons dealing with this. I’ve already seen my oldest go through a bit of it.
It’s just horrible the way kids treat each other. And while yes, it does get better, it doesn’t actually end when you get out of school. It might not happen as much, but it still happens. Because there’s one part in This Song Will Save Your Life where Elise has an “I-Don’t-Belong-Here” moment. You know those times when you feel so out of place and everyone else around you is making you feel that way, and they know it, too. And while I was reading that part of the book, I thought to myself, “Oh, yeah, I’ve had those moments. I had one a couple months ago…Wait, no, I had one last month!” Those moments are especially prevalent when you’re the new person again as an adult, and you’re not in school, and you don’t work. So making new friends when everyone already has their set group of friends isn’t easy.
But I digress. I just think that This Song Will Save Your Life speaks to so many of us who have felt like outcasts, who have been bullied, who have had depression or other mental issues, and it just kind of pulls us down for just a second, brings us back into that darkness, but then releases us, and presents a ray of hope. At least, it did for me; I can’t speak for everyone. But I think that this book could be critical for someone who is on the brink. It could be that ray of sunshine, that glimmer of hope that helps someone realize that it does get better.
I really loved a lot of the lines in This Song Will Save Your Life, but here are just a few of my favorites:
“That’s the problem with life. You never get enough time to stare at your ceiling and try to figure out what’s going on.”
“But you know better than anyone how the Internet sees everything and nothing, all at the same time.”