Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Review: This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales

Title: This Song Will Save Your Life
Author: Leila Sales
Publisher: Macmillan Children's Books (UK)
Publication Date: October 10th, 2013
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Coming of Age, Music

All her life, Elise Dembowski has been an outsider. Starting a new school, she dreams of fitting in at last – but when her best attempts at popularity fail, she almost gives up. Then she stumbles upon a secret warehouse party. There, at night, Elise can be a different person, making real friends, falling in love for the first time, and finding her true passion – DJ’ing.
But when her real and secret lives collide, she has to make a decision once and for all: just who is the real Elise?

An irresistible novel about hope, heartbreak and the power of music to bring people together.

This Song Will Save Your Life (TSWSYL) had been on my radar for a long time before I finally picked it up and boy, am I glad I did. Sure, there had been glowing reviews around every corner, but I hadn't expected to love it just as much as I did. It wasn't exactly the fun and fluffy contemporary I had pinned it for, it hit me right in the heart. 

Elise alone is the driving force behind this novel. And this entire review is probably going to focus on her because this is her story, and I think it is a very important one.

Elise Dembowski is different. She is an outsider who wants nothing more than to be on the inside. She knows what it is like to be alone and to be invisible. It is this isolation that causes her to start to believe that there may truly be something wrong with her, and that she needs to alter herself in order to be accepted. Her struggle to accept herself resonated with me not only because Sales' writing brought the struggle to life, but also because I have been in a very similar position myself. High school is hard, and it isn't just because of the homework. Elise attempts to commit suicide, unsuccessfully. Then she finds herself in a pit of despair.

But she doesn't wallow around in self-pity. She works her way out. 

After stumbling upon Start, a weekly underground dance club, she befriends two older girls Vicky and Pippa, and they introduce her to an environment in which she feels she can finally be herself. Start becomes her sanctuary, a place where people accept her as the person she is, not who she is trying to force herself to be. The only problem is that even though she has been accepted into this new group of people, Elise struggles to believe she is worthy. That anyone could ever truly care enough to want to be her friend.

Elise has always had a love for music, and with her new experiences at Start, she begins to immerse herself in this love. With the help of Char, the DJ at start, she is able to discover her natural talent for Deejaying. 

Now this is what I love. Romance plays a large role in most contemporary novels. The main character is insecure but she finds a boy who treasures her and accepts her, and it is because of him she becomes to accept herself. That is not the case in TSWSYL, and I couldn't be happier. Sure, there is a little bit of a budding romance between Char and Elise, but this is not a love story. And I think that is incredibly important.

It isn't realistic to believe that a knight in shining armour is going to save you from despair, and if I'm honest, I think it is a terrible impression to give teenage girls. The only person that can save you is you, and I think it is imperative that people know that the journey to self acceptance lies in oneself. Elise's strength is one of the things I admired most about this novel. Though Vicky, Pippa, Char and Start assisted in her in achieving self acceptance, they were only instruments in her operation. She made the mistakes herself and she learned from them herself, independent from her personal relationships. She saved herself, from herself, and I think that is pretty freaking amazing. 

Yes, alot of YA novels feature ass-kicking female heroines, but instead of ass-kicking, Elise does some serious self-accepting, and I think that is just as, if not more, important.

This Song Will Save your life is an incredibly heart-wrenching and poignant tale that will resonate with anybody who has ever felt uncomfortable in their own skin. Or really, anyone who has ever been a teenager. Which means everyone. I recommend this book to everyone. 

5/5 keys to my heart!

Memorable quotes

"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."

“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.”

"I had this feeling suddenly. I get this feeling a lot, but I don’t know if there’s one word for it. It’s not nervous or sad or even lonely. It’s all of that, and then a bit more. The feeling is I don’t belong here. I don’t know how I got here, and I don’t know how long I can stay before everyone else realizes that I am an impostor. I am a fraud."

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