Tuesday, 17 December 2013

This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales

Title: This Song Will Save Your Life
Author: Leila Sales
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Released: September 17th 2013
Pages: 288 (Paperback)

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?

I feel as if it'd be wrong to review this without sharing a bit of personal information. This novel hit me hard - it was as if Sales had crawled into the very depths of my brain and dug up my past, writing down a story that I just wish fourteen year old me could have read (it sure would have saved a lot of teen angst!) I'm a year older than main character Elise, but I still face many of the problems she conquers. I've never been a "popular" kid - heck, I stick out like a sore thumb, not just in looks but in personality, and that doesn't exactly endear anyone to you. I've never been without friends, but I get glares and snide comments made all the time from people who know nothing about me, and I just end up floundering around wondering what the heck I have done to deserve it. The truth that Sales reveals is that, as sad as it is, teenagers don't need a reason to dislike you; they just can, and they will. Sometimes this can push you to the breaking point - sometimes you wonder if suicide really is the only way out. In this novel, Sales shines a light onto the other pathway available to you; accepting yourself. It is one of the most beautiful things I have ever read.

Elise's character held the perfect balance between being comical an serious. Her quirky personality and witty comments immediately endear you to her, and her realistic characterisation is easy to relate to no matter your gender. Sales emphasises the uniqueness of her personality and gets the reader to celebrate all aspects of themselves even if others deem it odd or wrong. She's a true heroine - a figurehead for readers to rally behind and champion and learn from. She has to be one of my favourite characters ever.

Amazing secondary characterisation. Vicky and Pippa were a terrific twosome, and I'd love to see a sequel of this book but following Vicky's story. I mean, after that ending surely it's got to go somewhere? I loved everybody that Elise met at Start, and it was pretty heart-warming to watch her go from a silent nobody to the loved one of the club. 

One thing I loved the most was how there were romantic elements in this book, but it didn't dominate the storyline. Romance novels aren't my thing - the realism genre is about more than an awkward love triangle. It's about identifying issues that society is aware of but chooses to ignore, and then investigating the background behind it and how to overcome such obstacles. Whilst there was an interweaving of Char x Elise, the plot focused on Elise coming to accept herself. This is my favourite kind of romance - there but not dominant.

Sales is amazing at writing for the YA genre, as her language is "down with the kids" without being boring or too simple. It's evocative and rich, as well as being full to the brim with humour tinged with sarcasm. It's the kind of language that you can easily slip in and out of - you read it as easily as you breathe air. Or eat chocolate, since that's pretty easy to do too.

This Song Will Save Your Life is an amazing novel that absolutely sweeps your imagination off of its feet, transporting you to Start and the lives of Elise and Char. When I finished, I actually called up my best friend and told him that one day we'd go to America and we would find an underground nightclub and have the time of our lives. He agreed that we should - watch this space, people! Sales is an author to watch out for.
Rating: 5/5


  1. Aaaah another great review. I don't actually think I've seen a bad review yet, and I still haven't read it yet. I have major problems. I'm going to remedy this issue ASAP.

    Aly @ My Heart Hearts Books

  2. I'm absolutely dying to read this one! I've read countless amazing reviews of it. I'm glad you connected with this book, it seems like a lot of people did. And good to know the romance doesn't dominate, I'm kind of sick of that. Lovely review, and hopefully I'll get to reading this very soon :)

    Richa @ City of Books