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.
Elise has spent the entire summer researching how to be cool. She is determined after years of being taunted and ignored, that her sophomore year will finally be the year she makes some friends and becomes cool. Unfortunately, the first day brings more of the same, and Elise finds herself an outcast once again. Frustrated, she returns home convinced the only answer is suicide. Thankfully, she fails and months later she has taken to wandering the streets late at night. She inadvertently stumbles upon a dance club which changes her life. Can Elise finally find herself?
What I Liked:
- This book, though, short and quick presents a young girl who is suffering through the pains of growing up and enduring high school. Elise has struggled for years to be seen. She earned the label of being the weird girl in grade school, and since that day, no one wants to be her friend. She is teased and bullied, but somehow through it all, she endures and realizes that there is a life beyond high school. This is a solid coming of age story that isn't overly dramatic or painful. I thought it was the perfect blend of serious issues and music. Once Elise stumbles upon Start, her life takes a new direction as she finds her passion: DJing.
- I thoroughly enjoyed the strong musical presence. Once Elise starts going to the club and learning to DJ, the music really steps up and takes over. It was interesting to learn more about the art of being a DJ. It is so much more than just playing track after track. A good DJ is able to match beats and blend songs seamlessly as they transition from one to another. A DJ can read the crowd and somehow knows the perfect song to get the crowd rocking. I loved the inclusion of song lyrics and mentions of songs that were popular at the small club. Some were familiar while others needed to be looked up and listened to.
- I appreciated that this book tackles some important topics such as bullying and suicide. While the suicide isn't discussed in depth, I was glad that it was addressed. The bullying on the other hand, plays a major role as we watch how Elise is poorly treated by her classmates. This book makes you realize that bullying can take on so many forms, from outright taunting and name calling, to ignoring and labeling someone an outcast, and by far one of the most devastating new tactics is online bullying. There is an horrifying example how easily someone can bully someone online. I think this is an important book for teens to read and discuss so they can open their eyes even more to the horrible effects of bullying.
- Elise is a character who I truly admired. All her life, she has been on the outside and she truly doesn't understand why. Her classmates ignore and tease her for no apparent reason. It isn't due to her appearance or any specific event in her past, more than likely because she is smart and driven. It honestly doesn't matter because she is being bullied. I liked that Ms. Sales didn't give a specific explanation as to why Elise was picked on, it shows that anyone can be bullied for any reason and it isn't always about appearances or events in the past or behavior, it could be because someone wore shoes that were out of style or any other ridiculous reason. Bottom line: Bullying is wrong and we all need to step up and take a stand and stop it. I truly admired the way Elise endures it all, and I loved how she finally found herself and discovered her self worth.
- I thoroughly appreciated all the positive messages in this book and I would highly recommend this one. It is for the most part a clean read. There are a few references to drinking and sex, but Elise doesn't take part in these activities, aside from making out. So there are a couple of slight cautions, but I think this book is perfect for teens thirteen and up.
- At first, I wasn't sure about Elise's new found friends, especially since they were older. However as time went on, I truly liked Vicky and I loved how she became a good friend to Elise. She didn't let the age difference or anything else stand in the way. I also loved when all of Elise's new friends told her how they overcame their difficult high school years, once again proving there is life after high school.
And The Not So Much:
- The online bullying was a bit overshadowed and I didn't really like how the whole situation was handled. Especially when it was revealed who was behind it and why. I thought the explanation was weak as to why this person would want to write a blog pretending to be someone else. I also didn't like the way Elise was afraid to do anything about it, and that she let it continue for months. I wished she had been more forceful in wanting to get to the bottom of it. Nevertheless, I was pleased when the culprit was unmasked and severely punished. I just wish there was a stronger impact to discourage online bullying.
- The suicide discussion was a bit weak as well. I was disappointed that it was brought up in the beginning and then kind of glossed over. I was so curious as to what happened that night, especially when Elise picked up the phone and cried out for help. Thankfully, there are some resolutions and revelations toward the end. I did actually feel sorry for the girl that Elise reached out to. She got a bad rap that wasn't exactly deserved.
- The parents were a bit disappointing. They were somewhat involved in their daughter's life, but then they weren't. You would think after a suicide attempt that they would be talking to her often and keeping a close eye on her, this isn't the case as Elise is sneaking out at night repeatedly. The mom and dad do care, but I thought they should have stepped it up more and been way more involved in their daughter's life. Why didn't they know how miserable she was and that she really had no friends?
- The romance was a miss. At first, I thought that Elise would meet and fall in love with the perfect guy, but that isn't the case. She does meet a boy who changes her life, and they have a few brief moments where all is right, but then it stumbles and falters and fizzles. I appreciated, though that it was realistic, and I can honestly say that I was glad that Elise found her herself through other means than falling in love. However, I have to admit, I wanted that sweet and happy romance that would make my heart flutter. At the end, I was hopeful for the development of a new relationship, but unfortunately, the book ends before it has time to blossom. For all of you looking for a lovely romance, you might be a bit disappointed.
This Song Will Save Your Life is a book that brings to light bullying, suicide and the troubles everyone faces as they learn to find themselves. It is never an easy journey, and I truly appreciated the way this book handled some of these tough topics. It is a easy read, not overly dramatic and heavy as it blends the serious subjects with the lighter. I throughly enjoyed the musical references and I loved watching Elise grow. This is an excellent book for young teens to read.
"Sometimes you just have those days where everything goes wrong. But sometimes, and totally unexpectedly, something can go right."
"There are some people who want to win at whatever they do, even if the things they do are not the sort of things one wins at."
"I don't believe that anyone who is a legitimately interesting person can ever be popular as a teenager," Mel went on. "Or ever, maybe. Popularity rewards the uninteresting."
"It's not worth it. Sure, high school sucks sometimes. Some people will mess with you, whenever they want, and for no reason except that they can. But hurting yourself is giving those people the power, and they don't deserve it."
"But you know better than anyone how the Internet sees everything and nothing, all at the same time."
"People are who they are and, try as you might, you cannot make them be what you want them to be."
"True, things don't stay the same forever: couches are replaced, boys leave, you discover a song, your body becomes forever scarred. And with each of these moments you can change and change again, your true self spinning, shifting positions--but always at last it returns to you, like a dancer on the floor. Because throughout it all, you are still, always, you: beautiful and bruised, known and unknowable. And isn't that---just you---enough?"
I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and I was not compensated for this review.