Release Date: September 17 2013
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.
“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.”
One weekend I took this book with me to the cottage. I only really pick up contemporaries in the summer, when I need something quick and fun to read while sitting outside – and a book about a girl who DJ’s at warehouse parties seemed to fit the bill. So I was surprised when I sat down with This Song Will Save Your Life and found myself completely engrossed in the touching, heart wrenching story of Elise Dembowski.
Elise Dembowski is a pretty average high school student – which I’m sure most of you know isn’t easy. High school is hard and it can be lonely and in a desperate moment Elise found herself considering suicide. Thankfully she didn’t go through with it but now she needs to deal with the “what comes next.” I’ve read a lot of books about suicidal teens, but not a lot that deal with the aftermath. The recovery. In some ways Elise’s life has improved, her family is more attentive, she has a few people to eat lunch with. But she also has to deal with the stares, the gossip and a new website that’s popped up. I really liked that This Song Will Save Your Life provided a balance look at Elise’s life. It wasn’t unbearable all the time but it also wasn’t sunshine and rainbows now that she no longer wanted to take her life.
In addition to recovery and survival, This Song Will Save Your Life is also about pursuing your dreams, regardless of what other people think. Even if you didn’t realize they were your dreams at first. Elise has always liked music but purely by accident she discovers the world of DJing. And she discovers that she’s good at it. I think we all have something like this and if makes you happy you should keep doing it! Even if it’s difficult – although sneaking out to a sketchy warehouse in the middle of the night is not generally something I recommend
I’m not sure this review did this book justice. It is more than just a light contemporary read with some great music references. This Song Will Save Your Life is a story about healing, about family and about finding your place in the world. Elise Dembowski could have easily been me in high school. She could have easily been any of us. And that is what will make this book resonate with people of all ages.
Recommendation: Read it. Read it if you remember the ridiculous nature of high school politics. Read it if you like music. Read it if you’ve ever felt like giving up. Read it if you simply need a good book to get you through the day. Just read it.
“Sometimes people think they know you. They know a few facts about you, and they piece you together in a way that makes sense to them. And if you don’t know yourself very well, you might even believe that they are right. But the truth is, that isn’t you. That isn’t you at all.”
About the Author
Leila Sales grew up outside of Boston, Massachusetts. She graduated from the University of Chicago in 2006. Now she lives in Brooklyn, New York, and works in the mostly glamorous world of children’s book publishing. Leila spends most of her time thinking about sleeping, kittens, dance parties, and stories that she wants to write.