merlin_reads's review against another edition
16 year old Elise Dembowski feels the world doesn't see her, doesn't care that she's there, and she just wants to fit in somewhere. When a new outlook on life gets her nowhere, she decides to end it but that plan goes awry and leads Elise down a path that she never expected - finding solace somewhere she never should have been in the first place.
This book had me feeling many things - anger was one of them. Anger at the adults for not recognizing bullying, anger at Elise for the way she treated other people, anger at Elise's parents for not getting their daughter the help she needed - how, how do you not realize your teenage daughter is sneaking out of the house every night??? But I also felt sadness, sadness because I have felt like Elise at times and that type of loneliness is hard to get rid of.
For most of the book, at least for me, Elise was not a very likable character. She was too stuck inside herself and unable to see that she had people who cared about her. She attracted bad habits to her instead of seeking out the good. She pushed people away when inside she was screaming for someone to notice her. But despite this, the point of the story came across stronger because of this.
I am glad that more and more books are coming out that deal with the issues people don't want to talk about. High school is one of the most hardest of times for many people and books like these can make you feel like you're not alone. It's not perfect, but really, what is the perfect way to deal with depression?
someonesomebody's review against another edition
Plot- or character-driven? Character
Strong character development? Yes
Loveable characters? It's complicated
Diverse cast of characters? It's complicated
Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes
Moderate: Bullying, Adult/minor relationship, Mental illness, Self harm, and Suicide attempt
choso's review against another edition
I really love music. I love listening to music, and I have a very eclectic taste. Music is definitely a big part of my life.
I think I liked Elise, at least towards the end. She doesn't fit in at school because she's different, and while I could understand and sympathise with her wanting at least a little attention from someone kind, it was very difficult to relate to her. However I do think that she was very authentic and hats off to Leila for being able to write her so. I think the issue of suicide and bullying was handled extremely well and it was sensitive but also powerful, which was good.
This book is definitely character driven, and Elise's development was really great to read about. I admired her dedication and motivation, and the self assuredness that she managed to find at the end of the book was really uplifting. Of course, she makes her mistakes but that only serves to strengthen her, which was also really great to read.
Now, I don't like drinking or dancing so a nightclub is my idea of a nightmare (and I can sort of say that now that I have been to my first house party (I remained 100% sober, might I just add)), yet I actually really want to go to Start. It was just so much fun to read about and it lifted Elise's spirits so much that it seems like such a great place to be, where people are not judgmental and you can be your own person, and I am SO in favour of that. That was one thing I did not expect to come out of reading this book, so that was a surprise! A good one, though (and also one that I probably won't carry out).
Overall, This Song Will Save Your Life was a great book. I most heartily recommend that you give it a read as soon as possible! You won't be disappointed.
kimberleysbookmark's review against another edition
emjrasmussen's review against another edition
Her main qualification is this: no other author can make a novel that revolves primarily around self-discovery as exciting and engaging as Sales can. Her books always have some kind of hook that makes them true to life, but in a supercharged, never boring way, and in this case, DJing adds this vital boost to the plot.
A tale that could have been repetitive had it been handled differently, Elise's story never has a dull moment as it switches between the oppressive place that is high school and the nightclub that brings her to life, and the contrast between the dim dirtiness and the pulsating crowd, ostracization and acceptance, and numbness and vitality is fascinating. Readers can easily visualize this place where the protagonist finds a surrogate home, and I loved being transported into a new world I have never experienced in real life. Sales accomplishes this perfect painting of scenery by comparing it to the outside world, making it seem increasingly enticing every time Elsie visits, and in doing so, brings the drama that happens there to life. Readers will be sucked into the relationships-the rocking as well as the rocky-that unfold there, becoming invested in what becomes of each of its frequenters and slipping soundlessly into their fights, friendships, romances, and more.
The best part of this setting, though, is the way it allows the protagonist's development to build as she grows more and more animated and connected through music. Songs serve as not only the perfect bridge for Elise's character development, but the ideal way to create an interesting setup that screams, "Here is an even that sparked my coming of age story" rather than simply, "Here is my coming of age story." This, even more than the nightclub's vibrant imagery and hooking events, is what allows the self-actualization idea to come across in such an easy way; Elsie's confidence builds naturally with her DJing expertise, which provides This Song Will Save Your Life with a fitting quirk its main character can use to grow.
And throughout everything, Sales creates a perfect voice in which the story is told: often hilarious, sensitive when needed, and always realistic. This Song Will Save Your Life is just as comical as the author's previous books, but it does deal with darker topics relating to depression and family issues that will strike a chord-figuratively, of course-with many readers, adding another reason why this book is so relatable. The smiles resulting from the witty jokes and the emotions radiating from all Elise's insecurities provide the final grab that refuses to let readers turn away, and this signature writing style never fails to carry whatever creative ideas it supports.
At its heart, this is a book about a wandering teen learning to rock next to the dance floor as well as in life. Realistic enough to be recognizable and different enough to be alluring, This Song Will Save Your Life not only takes its protagonist through this perfectly paced metamorphosis, but leaves readers feeling as if they have just experienced the same thing. I cannot recommend this author (this novel in particular) enough to anyone looking for a true-to-life story that will cradle his or her attention, and I will continue demand everyone read this rollicking and bittersweet book.
This review originally appeared at www.foreverliterary.blogspot.com.
kellyjcm's review against another edition
Captivating read about a girl who has to learn who she is in order to survive the bullying she has endured in school. Music fans will get all the inside references, others (like me) will just appreciate Elise's journey and her passion for music and DJing. Elise is easy to cheer for. Enjoyable read.
neighborhood_librarian's review against another edition
dani005's review against another edition
There's no describing how amazing this book was. The characters were beyond real. Elise could have been me, with all her imperfections and dreams. We all want to belong and feel loved. We all want to be accepted for who we are. Yet, it often feels like we'll never feel accepted. We'll feel like there's no no one out there who would ever GET you. How could they? They project towards you their own fragmented opinions about you and fill in the blanks as they see fit and that becomes WHO YOU ARE in their eyes. Elise was that unpopular kid that no one wants to ever be associated with. She was the outsider, and in all honesty i think that's what makes this book such genius, is that at some point or another, we all feel like outsiders, and so we can all relate to this story.
You find something that everyone can relate to and you write a fantastic story with unreal, amazing characters, and you have a story that keeps you up till four in the morning. I could NOT put this book down. I had to keep reading. I had to live through Elise's life spiraling because i needed to know that it ended better than i could hope for. I wanted that happy ending because I've felt my life spiraling so many times that i need to read that reassurance that things may spiral but they always get better. I loved how the ending was tied off. I loved how no not everything was perfect, but then life never is. The ending was a little too perfect, because honestly, i don't think that 'cool' kids ever get over themselves enough to finally respect someone. I love this story though, and i love how the cool kids were incorporated into the whole resolution because sometimes you need that dream of finally being respected by the 'cool kids' to be somewhat sated and fulfilled, even if just the scenarios are read in a book.
I love the secondary characters. What would i do without Vicky, and Harry, and Char (although he's beyond a doubt a douche and hate what he does to Elise) and MEL! and of course Elise's parents and siblings and Sally and Chava. These characters created such beautiful undertones to this story. They created so much insight and humour and Leila Sales played Elise's struggles off of the struggles of all these characters so beautifully. I loved the loyalty and audacity of some characters, and the flaunting charisma of others (even if they are douches).
I love the descriptions and contrasts of the school scene and the Start scene as well. This book was more than a sad teenager's life at school. There was an element of mystery and passion in this underground music club that i loved. It brought this book to a whole other dimension, and i love how they're are so many real songs that have been incorporated into this story. These songs give this book so much more character because it gives you some reference. You could hear those song (listed at the back of the book) and you can know that these were the songs that Elise listened too. These songs are a part of her world as much as your own. The songs and music made one more connection that people can relate to through this book.
I love this book so much and im so glad i bought it. This book relates so easily to people that i would recommend it to everyone to read.
pixelski's review against another edition
Review originally posted at Fiction in Fiction in Fiction
“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.”