This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales (4 out of 5)

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I had to post the image above…I just finished the paperback version, which is the second image and the one you are likely to find on a bookstore shelf near you. There are no Google Images for just the paperback cover..not sure why. Holly was able to get a copy of this for me. I think I read about it in the Ingram catalog. The minute I read it was about a suicidal teen who finds herself, peace, and her calling as a DJ? Oh hell yeah, I HAD to read it.

Elise (like the “Cure” song) is a typical teenager, dealing with feelings of not fitting in and being embarrassed by the popular kids and her peers on a regular enough basis that she spends the rest of her school year in shame, only to read up every possible article, website, and tip over the summer, in preparation to be “cool” for the upcoming school year. The first day of the new school year arrives, and she doesn’t make a dent in anyone’s opinion of her as a hanger-on. Elise does one more thing, only to have it backfire in spectacular fashion. She finally decides there’s nothing more to be done, and she decides to kill herself. Naturally, when I got to this part, I was apprehensive and worried. I’ve read a few other books this year where suicide is an ongoing theme and all of those teens reacted in oft unrelatable ways. Elise, as a character, thought every single part of the process through, including how those left behind would react if a note wasn’t left, etc. The process of deciding how to off herself is done in a fashion that I don’t think I’ve read before in a teen book, and I love that! Elise doesn’t succeed, thankfully, because at the last minute, she realizes she doesn’t want to do so and calls a classmate who had some civil contact with her. Flash forward to many months later…Elise is with her mom (her parents are divorced and have an amicable custody agreement)and stepdad, and she begins sneaking out after they turn in to take nightly walks (peace of mind; and something this blogger does for the same reason). She’s out walking and makes eye contact with two girls, both dressed outlandishly, speaking loudly, smoking, and generally appearing out of the ordinary for that area. She converses with them and they invite her into “START”, a secret underground club where the dancing never quite ends. The girls? Vicky, a carefree free spirit who has a band and accepts Elise for whom she is, and Pippa, an English free spirit who’s cool until her insecurity over her unrequited feelings for the DJ threaten her newfound kinship with Elise. Who’s the DJ? The DJ in this book- and the central character in a somewhat strange love triangle (bizarre love triangle)- is This Charming Man (like the Smiths song)…. or CHAR, for short. He’s a very close-mouthed, somewhat secretive and curt guy who’s not only slightly older, but who also has mad chemistry from the start with Elise. Pippa, who basically does everything but wipe the DJ’s keister for him, is clearly besotted, and she instantly pegs Elise as a threat. The newfound friendship does suffer, but more important than all this teenager love triangle stuff? Char shows Elise the ropes with how to DJ. The power, the feeling of freedom as the music courses through her, and the overwhelming love for the music, and the expression of those who dance to it at the club while she’s spinning, well, basically ends up making Elise question everything that she had previously given up on and realizing- hey, this is who she is. The dippy DJ kid? Well, he claims to have feelings for Elise throughout, but when push comes to shove, she realizes, despite her feelings, this just may not be the dude for her after all. The DJ’ing makes her realize that no matter how bad shit gets, there is another way. Music, the great communicator, shows her the way. Her friendship with the girls? Realistic and heartwarming.
The book itself? There are a lot of parts where you just feel so bad for Elise, others where you’re screaming at her about the dippy DJ Char, and still others where you’re laughing out loud. It’s a book about learning that it’s never too late to find salvation and something that calls out to your soul, lets you keep believing in that thing called life that tests all of us at times, and find out who you are. And isn’t that what we all want out of this life?

There isn’t a lot I can complain about with this book, so I’ll keep it short and sweet. Have you ever had mad feelings for someone, a crush that seems it will always stay at the starting gate, and never beyond? And there seems to be a never-ending playlist of songs that remind you of that person? Have you ever heard a song on the radio and instantly your face flushes with recognition of someone who puts the color in your cheeks? Have you ever wanted to be the one who could spin those records for someone? Or do you have someone who does that for you? Music is that for everyone; how utterly refreshing to read such a great novel about it for the teen set. I hope this book does well; apparently they are optioning it for a movie. I would recommend reading it if you love music, great teen characters who are trying to find themselves, and friendships that, like the music we all listen to, never quite die.

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~ by generationgbooks on June 4, 2015.

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