This Song Will Save our Life by Leila Sales
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. (Goodreads)
Elise is a total outcast, branded a loser early in life. The loneliness pushes her to the very brink and in an act born of confusion and desperation, she attempts–or sort of semi-attempts–suicide. Now, months later, few people know what happened, but it’s left her family in a place where they feel they must treat her with kid gloves, everyone cautious, no one really sure how she’s truly doing. At school though, since no one really knows, it’s still torture on a daily basis, as usual. Elise’s only reprieve is her love of music and the late night walks she takes when her family thinks she’s sleeping.
During one of these walks Elise wanders into an after-hours club. And something crazy happens. She befriends people. And these people like her. She even meets the DJ! The whole night is kind of like a dream. It opens up a whole new world to Elise–one where she’s liked, one where she feels happy and accepted just for being herself. And sure, her daily life at school is still total hell…but her nights are sort of amazing. Elise even learns to DJ (and she’s freaking awesome at it!). She loves her new night life, but the secrets pile up and the bullying during the day keeps happening and at some point these two roles she’s playing have to collide.
This Song Will Save Your Life was so refreshingly different from anything I’d read in quite a while. I’m a huge Leila Sales fan, charmed in every way by her cute, quirky humor. And this book did not disappoint. At the same time, it felt different from her first two novels, Mostly Good Girls and Past Perfect. The subject matter here is a little heavier (though not in any way dark) and there are some real melancholy moments. The bullying Elise experiences and the general lack of support she gets at school is pretty heartbreaking. She’s far from a whiny character and she’s not the type of girl to crawl in a hole and disappear, but watching her experiences is painful. On the other hand, Elise’s night life is pretty much every kid’s dream. Not only does she manage to sneak out and carve out a whole new world for herself, in that world Elise is crazy cool. She’s loved. People want to know her. She’s the freaking DJ (sometimes)!
I found Elise to be enchanting. She grew on me more and more as I turned the pages and little by little I fell in love with all–or most–of her friends and her family. More than anything, I loved that Elise’s night life gives her perspective. She needs to be able to see herself and define herself outside of high school (doesn’t everyone need to do that at some point?) and when she truly does this she blossoms.
Crush Intensity: 4.25/5 Leila Sales, I’m pretty sure there’s nothing you could write that I wouldn’t love.
Thank you to Farrar, Straus and Giroux and to Netgalley for allowing me to read an e-galley of This Song Will Save Your Life.