Book Review: This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales

Posted December 20, 2013 by Stormy in Books / 19 Comments

This Song Will Save Your Life

 by Leila Sales

This Song Will Save Your Life

 Original Publishing Date: September 17, 2013
Length: 288 Pages
Publisher: Farrar, Straus, & Giroux

Obtained Via: Purchased
Format Read In: Hardback
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 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.

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.


 Opening Line: You think it’s so easy to change yourself. You think it’s so easy, but it’s not.

This Song Will Save Your Life is. . . what are the words I can use to describe it, without sounding overly sentimental? This book is one of those books that I label as special. Those books that I add to the list of books that influence me as a person, the type of book that I hold to dear to my heart and I know will be revisited time and time again, not only in re-reads but also just reflections on how truly magnificent this book really is.

Elise is very similar to the person I was in high school. I think I had a few more friends in the latter high school years(I have good memories of those final two years), but the time before that? Desperate, lonely, and afraid are words I would use to describe myself and Elise. Perhaps I wasn’t quite to the point that Elise was, but I think without certain things in my life I could have definitely reached that point. And that’s why I loved Elise so much– she judged other people quickly sometimes, being so accustomed to being judge early herself, she made mistakes and was so hard on herself it was hard to read, but it all resonated with me so much.

Which is why I was such a fan of the journey that Elise took in this book. I was worried that it would be one of those “rise-to-fame” stories, very sentimental without any real heart or depth, but This Song Will Save Your Life was nothing of the sort. Elise cared passionately about music and her DJ’ing, and the way that passion sort of shone a light into Elise’s light was handled in a very real, sort-of-inspirational, but not cheesy, way.

This Song Will Save Your Life is a book that reminded me why I love the things I do, why I am passionate about certain things. It might not be music for me, like it is for Elise(though I’m a huge fan and am pretty passionate about music over all), but this book reminded me of how the things we love really can save and inspire us. It made me think back to my post about what books taught me, and I think that books are for me what music is to Elise. I just really loved the way This Song Will Save Your Life touched upon the idea that our passions can be so helpful to us, life-saving even.

I LOVED the relationships explored in This Song Will Save Your Life. All of them. Elise’s parents don’t really understand what she’s going through(partially because she won’t let them), but they really do care and are supportive. The way Elise’s parents interacted with her seemed realistic to me, which isn’t always what I can say in YA. The way friendships were handled was the main relationship highlight of this book for me, though. Because here’s the thing: Elise’s music might have saved her, but her friends she found through the music are what keeps that going. The friendships are messy at times, and they’re not perfect, but they were so well-done.

This Song Will Save Your Life could have been so much less than what it was, but it was clear to me from the start that this was a special book. This book has one of my all-time favorite last paragraphs, and when I closed this book, I felt supreme satisfaction in the story, yes, but I also felt connected to Elise and her story, and also the story of everyone who’s passion has ever saved their life, even once.

Final Impression: I honestly hadn’t even considered reading This Song Will Save Your Life until I heard Leila Sales speak at Austin Teen Book Festival, but I’m so glad I did, because it was a wonderful book. I related to Elise’s story so much and I think many others will too. It was a beautiful story and one I can’t wait to revisit. Flawless. 5/5 stars.






5 Stars

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19 responses to “Book Review: This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales

    • stormydawnc

      I hope you like it if/when you pick it up! It’s a really short read(I was surprised by the length, actually) but it packs quite a punch.

  1. Realistic parents in a YA book?! What?! I think I need to read this book just so I can see that. Seriously, where are the responsible parents in YA books?

    • stormydawnc

      The absent parents in YA thing is so annoying. One one hand, I do understand why authors sometimes do this–some stories just wouldn’t work otherwise. But I love books that have actual family dynamics!

  2. I haven’t read this yet (waiting on Santa 😉 ), but after reading a TON of reviews I know it will be something I love.

    What I love most about your review is when you state “This Song Will Save Your Life is a book that reminded me why I love the things I do, why I am passionate about certain things.” That to me makes me remember why reading is such a beautiful thing.

    • stormydawnc

      Yes, reading was definitely what I was thinking about while writing that line–among other things too! I might not have the same passions as Elise, but seeing HER become passionate about something reminded me of my own.

  3. I just bought this book this week after seeing so many people loving it. I’m really excited to start it soon. After how you described the book and Elise, I think I will definitely relate to her as well. I love books that make you think and can influence you in a way, I love it when books are able to do that!

    • stormydawnc

      Ooh, I hope you love it too! I think when it released a lot of people loved it, but it was sort of forgotten about by most readers. It’s been making a round on a lot of best-of lists, though, so I hope more people give it a chance!

  4. Cait

    I adored this one too! It was epic and sweet, and totally relatable. Aw, gosh, I just want to hug it and keep it forever! This one definitely hits my “incredibly special and awe-inspiring and just loveable” shelf. 😉
    I’m stopping by from Candance’s linkup! Here’s mine!

    • stormydawnc

      That’s how I feel too–like you said it was sweet and I want to hug in–and amazingly, it managed to NOT be cheesy! It just really struck a chord with me!

  5. Literally every review of this book that I’ve read so far has been a raving review! The reviewer always comments on how they connected with Elise and such. I have to say, I did like the book as well (enough to give 5 stars) but to be honest, I didn’t particularly like the main character. Which is strange, because often when I don’t like a main character, that’s enough to rate down a book (I guess it shows just how good the other aspects of the book are). I loved the relationships too! And it was surprising, because there really wasn’t much romance in it. I was definitely expecting more for some reason haha.

    • stormydawnc

      I’m glad you liked it too! I understand why people wouldn’t like Elise–she could be quite judgmental herself at times. But I think more than I relate to her character, I could relate to her high school experience. Mine definitely wasn’t that bad, but it was that outcast feeling I think Sales managed to capture so well.

  6. It makes me really happy that you enjoyed This Song Will Save Your Life So Much. I definitely devoured this one really quick! It was easy for me to relate to Elise as well, and I liked seeing her transformation as she gained more confidence and found her stride when it came to the DJ-ing.

    • stormydawnc

      Yes, it was definitely one of those books that I just had to read all in one sitting–which is quite a feat, since I normally don’t feel that way about contemporary books. It’s one of those rare books that really hit me somewhere deep.

    • stormydawnc

      Oh, do Trish, if you can! It’s a book that took me by surprised with how MUCH I loved it. I was like, okay, this will be a nice sort-of light contemporary read to pass the time, but it was so much MORE than that.

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