Published by Straus and Giroux on 17 September 2013
Genres: Contemporary (No Romance Focus), Young Adult
Place(s) Traveled to: Glendale, Rhode Island
First Line(s): You think it’s so easy to change yourself.
When it comes to a Leila Sales book I’ve come to expect a certain type of writing style. One that is a little bit quirky, light-hearted and fun. So when I picked up This Song Will Save Your Life and started to read it, I knew immediately that I was in for something different. Elise is sad. Through some crazy twist of fate she is that girl in high school who never seemed to fit in. At the start of the book Elise takes on a project to try and change herself. She wants to fit in, she wants to have friends, and most of all she just wants to be normal. But as the first line implies, its not that easy to change who you are.
This Song Will Save Your Life reminded me a lot of Jay Asher’s Thirteen Reasons Why (my review) in that it was filled with much of the same raw emotion. There is a bleakness to Elise that makes the reader just want to reach in and give her a hug. Like Hannah, Elise tries to kill herself but unlike Hannah she reaches out before its too late and is saved. But being saved may actually be worse than the life that she had before. That is until Elise discovers this secret club down the road from her mothers house. She meets some crazy, eccentric people a little older than she is and unlike those in her school accept her for who she is. This club becomes Elise’s salvation in many ways.
Oh Elise’s life doesn’t magically get better but her choices expand. She makes some good and bad decisions and she deals with the consequences of them. She has parents who care and act like real parents. They aren’t overly involved or overly distant. They struggle with how to cope with their moody, suicidal daughter as they deal with their own lives. I really liked Elise’s parents, even as I wanted to shake and slap them sometimes, because underneath it all you can see just how much they care about Elise.
This Song Will Save Your Life starts off as a book about suicide but its really so much more than that. Its about discovering oneself even though others around you may not see it. Its about figuring out talents that you never knew you had until you took a risk and tried something new. Its about making friends and living life and at its core its about music. Music can be such a powerful force in this world. A simple song can whisk you away to a time forgotten where you were unbelievably happy or to the time when your heart was broken for the first time. Within its beats and melodies it holds onto memories and also the power to help you forget who you are, if just for the length of the song, and so in that time you can be someone else.
I loved following Elise’s journey in This Song Will Save Your Life. I laughed and cried with her. I cringed when I saw that she was making a poor life choice and I applauded when the good things happened. This was a wonderful heart-warming story that will make the readers really sympathize with Elise and those around them. Its also a book that is solely about Elise, the main character, and holds little to no romantic story lines Oh, the secondary characters are colorful and add depth to the story but this wasn’t their journey. It was Elise’s.
This is one of those books that I wish could go on for a hundred or so more pages. I enjoyed being in Elise’s world and I hated to leave it. I loved watching Elise grow and come into her own. For me, This Song Will Save Your Life is a perfect example of the old Proverb “just when the caterpillar thought the world was over it became a butterfly.” Its a phrase we should all remember as just because things might look bleak it doesn’t mean that its the end. Instead it can be a whole new beginning.