Monday, September 16, 2013

Review of This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales

This Song Will Save Your LifeMaking 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.

Told in a refreshingly genuine and laugh-out-loud funny voice, THIS SONG WILL SAVE YOUR LIFE is an exuberant novel about identity, friendship, and the power of music to bring people together.

(Summary from GoodReads)


Until recently, Leila Sales was an author who’d all of my blogger friends had raved about and I had not read.   When the opportunity to review This Song Will Save Your Life came up I jumped at it.  Despite the fact that the book releases in fall of 2013, I found myself diving in shortly after it arrived at my apartment in June. I was the teensiest bit dubious because I’ve heard that Sales’ other books are quite humorous while this one dealt with more somber subject matter.  Sales blew my socks off with her stunningly accurate portrayal of high school friendships and intensely readable plotline.

I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to connect with Elise because she was so musical and struggled so much to fit in.  I had actually heard of a lot of the bands Sales mentioned, so I didn’t feel totally lost when music did come up.  As for the fitting in aspect, Sales nailed it.  I experienced some bullying as kid, but when I started out at a new school in sixth grade, I figured out how to be myself without feeling like an outcast.  I’m not sure why it worked, or why I was bullied as a child.  That was just kind of how things went.  Elise experiences a lot of similar confusion—she’s not sure why she doesn’t fit in, or what she can do to change that.  Oftentimes a lot of these things feel almost arbitrary.  Sales depicts that dynamic perfectly.

Despite her struggles to get by, Elise knows a few girls who she sort of considers friends, such as Sally and Chava, and I love reading about their role in Elise's story.   As someone who’s been on both sides of friendships like the one Elise had with these girls, I thought that the way it was represented here was so true to real life.   It’s the same kind of feeling I got when I read Some Girls Are by Courtney Summers, although the friendships depicted are very different, as are the books themselves.

This Song Will Save Your Life is exceptionally plotted.  The twists were not only tougher to predict, but they added a lot of depth to the story.  The plotline surrounding Elise’s family concluded perfectly, especially in regards to Elise’s little sister.  That part was gut-wrenching to read, but I also understood why Elise acted the way she did.

Ultimately, I read this novel so quickly because I cared about Elise.  I wanted things to get better for her, because I connected so well with her desire to fit in.  Reading this book made me wonder if Sales had experienced what Elise goes through in This Song Will Save Your Life, because it was just so well done.

This Song Will Save Your Life is a book that teens will connect to.  There will be some who, like me, understand Elise’s desire to fit in, and others that connect well to the musical aspects of this book.   Sales has written an exceptional third novel and I’ll be reading her other books as soon as I am able.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Other reviews:


  1. Ohh yay! I'm glad you enjoyed this one. It's definitely my favorite release this year. It's always special when you have a connection to the story and the characters. I totally agree with you that Sales writes about the struggle to fit in very well. And yes to the caring about Elise! I loved seeing her work through her struggles and find a place where she feels at home.

  2. I adored this book too-I identified with so many aspects of Elise's isolation and wish my high school self had had this book but at least my adult self gets to resonate with it now.



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