Monday, July 29, 2013

This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales

This Song Will Save Your Life

This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales was an exciting read to me, solely based on the fact that it was set in my home state.  You might think that is nothing special, but Rhode Island is small and frankly is not as overused as say California for YA or adult novel settings.  So this book gets some major kudos for that. 

“I was un-cool by fourth grade.  How is it even possible to be an un-cool fourth grader…But somehow, even in fourth grade, they knew.”

Elise Dembowski is our unpopular, un-cool, social liability narrator and main character.  Always unpopular, Elise works hard the summer after 9th grade to reinvent herself.  But when that doesn’t work, she tries to kill herself (but only for attention).  The content of this book happens primarily 6 months after the attempted suicide. 

During a late night walk Elise stumbles on to an underground disco called Start.  Here she meets Vicky and Pippa.  Soon after she continues to frequent the club on Thursday nights and this is when she is also hit with the DJ-ing bug.  In enters Char, the DJ at Start on Thursday nights, who begins to teach Elise about DJ-ing. 

This book definitely had cool music, fantastic night walks through my state and also some great lines; however, I feel it was too superficial.  The whole point was popularity.  Elise tried to kill herself for attention, and acknowledges that fact (as soon as she does it.) She was bullied but never told her parents; she is actually smart and creative but put herself down because others did not see it.  The story was not about bullying and the effects, not truly it was about wanting to fit in, get attention and be popular, while severing any individuality she had.  Only after she becomes a famous DJ and the kids at school thinks she is cool, does she fully appreciate herself.  Elise was too self absorbed and selfish at times, based on her experiences and what she wanted her sister to be spared from.  I would have liked it better if Elise wasn’t superficial and a bit stronger.  Not everyone is popular, but most especially not everyone hates what makes them special.  Some of the messages Elise wished to tell her younger self, were things like not being special.  Obviously the author was not trying to say “Conform to the social hierarchy of high school,” but the character just couldn’t see things rationally and blamed others for her missteps.  Granted she sort of learned better at the end but really…?  This is coming from someone who wasn’t super popular (my friends were in the top 3% of my class, and sometimes school), I am ultra weird, and was called a lesbian at 11 (even though I didn’t know what that meant and I have come to find out I am not in fact a lesbian/fag… not that I have a problem with that, it’s just not my personal preference.)  If you don’t believe you’re worth it no one else will, and maybe my mom helped me not care too much about what others think, because frankly life is too short and sometimes you have to give yourself that push when no one else has your back.  Way to go mom!

I gave this book 3/5 star.  Thanks Net Galley.


  1. I just started reading this last night (I'm about halfway through) and I'm finding the setting to be a bit distracting. I live in Burrillville (which the real Glendale is part of) and I have to keep reminding myself that hers is a completely fictionalized version or my brain starts trying to figure out where exactly she's talking about. :-p

    I get her being self-centered. I was kind of hoping she'd change by the end, but from your review it seems like she's not going to. I'm finding it very hard to like her much.

    1. I totally can sympathize with you on being lost with the setting, as a native Rhode Islander. I hope you still enjoyed the novel sans character issues.