Published by Pan Macmillan Australia on October 10, 2013
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
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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.
High school was an awkward experience for me. I got good grades and won awards for being top of the class. If this wasn’t social suicide then, I don’t know what was. My friends at school weren’t exactly the popular ones, we just never quite fit in anywhere else. Luckily, I found my place at social activities outside of school, which brought me friends who I resonated with, understood who I were, and didn’t let grades determine whether I was cool enough to hang around with.
That’s why This Song Will Save Your Your Life really spoke to me, as Elise just didn’t fit in to the social cliques at school. Where her only folly is her intelligence and being precocious (maturing ahead of her classmates), Elise was shunned by the rest of the school for being different. But when given the chance to shine outside of that environment, she found DJ-ing at Start as a place where she could really flourish and be herself.
Her voice and dialogue was just so honest and raw. At the start, Elise is plagued with hangups about herself and negative self talk. This makes her an easy target for bullies, and I really felt for Elise during those times. Even her suicidal thoughts and walking around at night is something that could be related to. Luckily This Song Will Save Your Life is a story about hope, personal growth and finding one’s self, so Elise eventually finds a place where she can fit in, is respected, and has friends that will stick around after school. Despite being quite a self conscious person (after all, most people are), I really liked Elise’s quiet resolve in knowing where she stood at school and at home. Even her approach to boys and dating was refreshingly realistic, and not wrought with whining and negativity.
Start, the indie underground dance party which Elise stumbles upon, is where her love of music really gives her the chance to shine. It is a magical, surreal place where Elise is recognised by local DJ Char. Her talent and quick learning skills lands her a DJ-ing gig with Char at Start, where she’s actually happy for the first time. The juxtaposition of her secret life at Start and the online diary by fake Elise talking about how depressed she is, really shows the two Elise’s at the start and the end of the story.
At first, her secret life at Start seems incomparable to her real life at school, but as she gets to know her newfound friends, she realises that they are only normal people who gather at night, just like her. It was kind of unbelievable to have this unpopular, nerdy girl turn into a DJ superstar with a loving audience, but that captures exactly what your circumstances can do to you, and what this story is about.
You may wonder how I managed to make these friends. Well, I will tell you: making friends is actually not that hard when you drop every single one of your standards. – Elise
This Song Will Save Your Life is a beautiful, relevant story that anyone who ever felt out of place can connect to. It’s a raw, coming of age story that gives you hope. Hope that there is a place that you can fit in outside of school. Hope that you’ll be respected and liked for simply being who you are. Elise shouldn’t be down on herself because her classmates just don’t get her – because when school is over, she’ll have her passion – something people spend all their lives searching for.
Thank you to Pan Macmillan Australia for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review.
Rating: 5 out of 5