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



Rating: 4 / 5
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Drama
Release Date: September 17, 2013 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Number of pages: 288
Source: ARC from Netgalley
Goodreads | Amazon

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.


This was a really beautiful read.

You see, while dystopias, apocalyptic, and science fiction stories are generally my favourite genres, I do enjoy a sappy, sad story every once in a while. Reading about situations that force your throat to tighten and your heart to squeeze makes me feel somehow alive. Is it weird that I actually look forward to being a sobbing, snotting mess when it comes to books like this? Maybe, but I always loved that feeling. But This Song Will Save Your Life takes it up a notch higher. Aside the poignant, emotional writing that efficiently the messages it wanted to send across, this book is so good because it’s so relatable.

I, for one, never experienced bullying in school or from my peers. When I was in middle school and high school, I had absolutely no idea that was actually going on. Everyone was so nice, everyone had their own group, nobody antagonized the other. At that time, I’ve always believed that was just something you see in TV shows (I know now that this is not the case, and it makes me sad this is still ever-so rampant). I had groups of friends, but there were times I was also lonely. I never identified myself with one group. I jumped from this to that, back to this again, in hopes that I’d be able to finally find a clique I could truly associate myself with. I may have had a lot of groups to hang out with, but I wasn’t really… there. I was in an all-girls school, and seeing how the tomboys (or wannabe tomboys) were the ones who were the most popular, who were the most sought-after, I actually tried to become one. I sported boyish clothes, learned the boyish walk, forced myself to look at cheerleaders and single someone out to be my “crush” (this is really funny now, in hindsight). But that façade was exhausting, and it wasn’t who I was, and it was during that time that I felt lonelier than ever.

And this book truly hit the nail on the head when it came to feeling that way. The need to fit in. The need to be liked by others. The need to be acknowledged and identified. And how it would just mean the world to you to be finally accepted. It’s kind of hard to express those needs in words, and it amazes how this book seamlessly and effortlessly expressed all of that and more with its voice. It was just so honest and genuine. You can truly feel the loneliness and frustration of the main character from the pages, that I couldn’t help but feel sad during the first few parts of the novel. Yeah, it had a few jokes here and there, and there were attempts to lighten up what were heavy scenes, but it was melancholic throughout — raw and intense.

The only problem I had here was Elise’s being… judgemental. Yes, she didn’t like being judged for her clothes, for her taste in music and whatnot, but she frequently judged others, too. She was absolutely proud that she loves 70-80s music, that she thought people who liked otherwise were less intelligent human beings. I didn’t like this side of her, this pretentiousness, and I wished there were less of that. I get it that you loved old bands, but come on, girl, there’s no need to be condescending… it makes you look like a hypocrite.

Other than that, this was a fantastic book about growing up and broadening your horizon. Anyone who has ever felt loneliness will easily find themselves relating to Elise’s situation and troubles, making it quite a painful (in a good way) and uplifting experience. Elise found herself in music, and perhaps you will also find a piece of yourself in her journey, too.

An ARC was provided in exchange for an honest review. This did not influence my thoughts in any way.

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A 21 years old Filipina who loves books, games, languages, and most especially, food. Secretly wishes to be an astronaut so she can explore the stars. Has a love-hate relationship with Philippine politics. To get in her good graces, offer her Foie Gras, Or shrimp. Or a JRPG. A YA sci-fi book works, too. You can follow her on twitter here: @kawaiileena


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  1. says

    I want this book so so badly, I’ve heard nothing but positive reviews for this one. It’s a shame Elise was a little judgemental at the beginning but I still like the skid of her character.

    Wonderful review, Faye! <33

    • FayeFaye says

      Thank you, Melanie. I hope you get to this one soon, as it was just absolutely wonderful. Please redirect me to your review once you get it, yes? :P

  2. says

    Not sure how I’d like this judgmental character but it all depends how it’s written. judgmental people DO exist so it depends how we’re expected to react to this personality. I have this one to read soon and I’ve been super excited and very curious due to the early hype for it. I think it’ll also be the first book by this author and I guess she’s really good! Great review, Faye!

    • FayeFaye says

      Thank you, Giselle :D Well, overall this book was written splendidly, but yeah, I just didn’t like how she’s be mean to others for their musical tastes. Didn’t sit well with me XD

  3. says

    It was definitely my favorite cause of how absolutely relatable it was. Um, I didn’t notice Elise judgemental side but I really like how she handled the romance. It’s like when a guy shows no interest in you anymore, get up and move on. I’m soooo glad you liked this one, Faye!

    • FayeFaye says

      Yeah, the romance was well done. The guy was such a jerk and I’m glad she didn’t dwell too much on it even though he was a 100% certified douchebag. Move on and let bygones by bygones :D

  4. says

    What a fantastic review Faye, I loved how you brought your own experiences into reading this novel. You made me laugh when you said she hated to be judged by others but she’s judgemental herself…such is life isn’t it!

    • FayeFaye says

      Thank you, Jeann :) This book is really relatable to a deep, personal level so I couldn’t help it. It’s amazing that other reviews have put forth their own experiences, too!

  5. says

    I absolutely adored this book! Even if I was never bullied or had any big issues with being accepted in high school, I could relate with how hard it was for me to accept that I was weird, that I didn’t like what the majority of people liked and that was okay!

    I loved how realistic everything felt, and how the romance was not a “true love will fix it all” sort, but something more real and an experience that will help Elise continue to grow.

    Great review, Faye!
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