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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