Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Review: This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales

Firstly, thanks to Macmillan Children's for this review copy <3

Date Read: June 21 - August 12 2013
Release Date: September 17th 2013
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (Macmillan)
Source: NetGalley
Genre: Contemporary
My rating: 

"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."


“Sometimes, when you are worn down, day after day, relentlessly, with no reprieve for years piled on years, sometimes you lose everything but the ability to cry.”

When I first started reading TSWSYL I was genuinely worried about how it would affect me. The synopsis said it was told from a funny voice, I’m not sure I completely agree with this. The beginning was so bleak I was scared about how the story would progress.

Elise Dembowski has been bullied for as long as she can remember. She doesn’t have a single friend and when she tries to talk to people they shy away from her. In her last attempt to be accepted, she spends the summer before school starts trying to reinvent herself – perusing blogs and fashion magazines she has a complete makeover, using what little pocket money she has to change her clothing. And yet still the “popular” girls at school find faults and continue bullying her. There is absolutely nothing wrong with her character; she likes things most other people would if only they talked to her. I wouldn’t even call her socially awkward because she can communicate as we see later on. She’s a nice person, she has her flaws, but so does everybody else. She is just one of those unlucky people that the world, for some unknown reason, finds it funny to make fun of. Despite never having been in such a bad position as Elise, her voice and her situation were extremely relatable.

“You think it's so easy to change yourself. You think it's so easy, but it's not.”

On the brink of giving up, and my God this part was so depressing, Elise is wandering around one night when she stumbles upon a warehouse that’s a club playing oldies music. Upon entering she immediately befriends Vicky. Vicky was such an amazing secondary character, one of the nicest and most non-judgemental people I’ve ever read. She’s honest and realistic yet somehow manages to be positive and exudes such a great energy one cannot help but smile at her presence. Considerate and caring, Vicky was just the friend Elise needed. People like Vicky are what restore my faith in humanity.

Through Elise’s interactions with the various people in the club – Vicky, Char the DJ, Pippa and even the bouncer, Elise learns what it means to have friends and all the ups and downs that come with it. For once she is with like-minded people, she is not alone and she gets to freely express herself through her love for music. Vicky shows her what it’s like to be cared for, to have that selfless friend who accepts and doesn’t judge no matter what; Pippa shows her that in the face of friendship, conflicts can happen – that friendship isn’t always happy rainbows, but that some friends are worth keeping and some aren’t. Char teaches her how to DJ and through this, Elise learns what it really means to do something you love, to be good at something and be passionate about it.

“Don't you ever want to have just one thing that no one else knows about, so no one can ruin it for you?”

I loved the way Elise grew into herself, the way she applied herself with a frenzied obsession – I could really relate because that’s sometimes I how approach new things I love. Sales does character growth spectacularly. The changes from bleak to hopeful were noticeable and yet paced perfectly.

I’m a complete sucker for books that incorporate music. Pretty much all the books I’ve read that have used music to help tell the story have gotten 4 or 5 stars from me. Sales joins this list. I don’t even listen to any of this kind of music and yet I was there on the dance floor with Vicky, moving with the surging bodies as they belted out the lyrics to Springsteen’s Dancing in the Dark; I was DJing with Elise as she merged tracks and watched people cheer as I Wanna Dance With Somebody came on.

“I believe that a person's taste in music tells you a lot about them. In some cases, it tells you everything you need to know.”

Dealing with the serious issue of bullying and the dire consequences that can arise, including loneliness/depression and suicide, Sales writes a moving story of identity, relationships and hope by connecting people through music. This story really touched me and I would recommend it to anyone and everyone.

“Sometimes you just have those days where everything goes wrong. But sometimes, and totally unexpectedly, something can go right.”


  1. Awesome review! I'm so reading this book.

    1. Thanks bestie (: I hope you enjoy it and that it moves you as much as it moved me!

  2. I really really love this book - I'm glad you did too! It was so sad to begin with but I love how hopeful it got. It's good I've got this in physical copy because I think it's something I'd read again :)

    1. I really need to get the physical copy because I think I would re-read this too. When she nearly committed suicide near the beginning omg it was so scary!

  3. I def have to pick this up some time.

  4. There's nothing like an author who puts that kind of effort into developing her characters, I love seeing them grow. This sounds brilliant. I've seen the cover and have almost purchased a few times just based on that, but your review has sealed the deal for me. Great review :)

    1. WOOHOO and my job is complete! I hope you enjoy :D I do adore that cover