This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This book was a slow hook for me, but once I was on the hook, I couldn't stop reading all the way to the end. It's like that dance club where the first song you here isn't your jam, and you waffle over sticking around to see if it gets any better, or cut your losses and bounce to the next venue. At the beginning, Elise is struggling to accept who she is, since who she is doesn't line up with the "in" or "cool" crowd at school. For me, this was right on the edge of whiny, which is another way of describing every teen girl who goes to high school ever.
I considered putting down the book and DNFing it. I'm glad I didn't. I mean, I'm glad I read more, because I was hooked by what comes next (things get real, very quickly) and I would have missed out on an amazing story, a journey Elise takes to find her true self and to realize that she's okay, even if she's not popular, that there's more to life than social status. So, I'm telling you, KEEP READING. It's worth it. Trust me. There were so many moments of clarity Elise has that are nearly poetry in musical form. You don't want to miss this. KEEP READING.
I also love the way she found herself, through the vehicle of music. Music can be incredibly therapeutic (my day job is therapy for kids), and for Elise, it proves to be her lifeblood. With her music, she finds a niche for herself from a completely unexpected place: the DJ booth at an underground dance club called Start.
She also finds the beginnings of love in Char, the boy who teaches her to DJ, and the fine art of kissing. Even more, she finds friends in unexpected places, like Mel, the club bouncer, and in Vicky and Pippa, who accept Elise from the start and become true friends.
Elise keeps this part of herself a secret for much of the book, until, of course, she can't, and has to face the fall out of it all. She's also plagued by a "Super Secret Diary" blog made by someone who thinks they've got her pegged, but is a cruel form of bullying. In the social status world of high school, this carries a heavy weight and causes a lot of grief for Elise, whose own friends think she's the one who writes the posts as a desperate cry for attention.
This book isn't about the pettiness of social status pecking order. It's not about what others think of you. It's not about the way people pigeonhole your identity after the first five seconds of meeting you, or worse, from a comment someone makes about you ("Lesbo," for example).
This book is about more. It's about finding and discovering who you really are, and embracing that you, without fear, without looking back, and without caring what others think of you. When Elise is able to do this for herself, she's got all the reason to live true to herself every day of her life, and she finds the surprising truth that she's more than socially popular, she's got the thing everyone scrabbling for status doesn't even know they need or want: she has true IDENTITY. She's found herself, and she's desirable for that simple fact of knowing who she really is.
With that knowledge, Elise can rise above the public judgment she's endured the whole horrible school year, and shrugs off her status persona, replacing it with her secret, underground DJ identity.
Of course, when her parents realize she's been lying to them, keeping secrets, and putting herself in dangerous situations, she's grounded, and not even welcome in her mother's and stepdad's house after something happens that hurts her younger sister, who's alarmingly similar to Elise in so many ways.
This book had surprising turns throughout, and an ending that was both magical and fulfilling and powerful, like the lyrics to your favorite song blasting out of the speakers.
Well worth the read, and highly recommended. This book will make you want to dance.
View all my reviews