This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales | Non-Spoiler Review

Rating: ★★★★

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.

This Song Will Save Your Life was probably one of the most refreshing reads so far in 2017. It had those elements that makes a contemporary novel what it needs to be in order to keep a reader connected to the story, from real hard-hitting issues to the journey of a character finding themselves in a world where they may feel like they do not fit in to society’s standards. The novel deals with some hard-hitting subjects, such as suicide and self harm, so I would not suggest reading it if you are easily affected by these things.

I was captured by the story from the very first page, as the novel opened up with a powerful and somewhat relatable paragraph that introduced what the narrator, Elise, was going to be struggling with on her journey of self-discovery. Elise is a character who I think everyone can identify with at some points in their life. Like Elise, we all have our insecurities, face the pressures of trying to fit in with a certain group of people and desires to stand out in something; how we handle those things are different depending on who we are. Elise’s struggles of falling victim to bullying, not fitting in and dealing with going back and forth between her divorced parents really brought to light how insecurities and pressures can mentally affect and harm someone without anyone acknowledging that a person needs help. In my own personal experience, I can strongly relate to Elise. We both pressure ourselves to be good for others, we worry about losing good things in our lives, we both fear being judged by others and the most relatable part of her character – we both cry easily! As Elise was extremely easy to relate to, the reading experience of this novel was something that will stay in my heart forever, and picking out parts that I felt I could identify to was what initially kept me reading.

This novel was personally, only a four star purely because of the ‘love interest’, Char. Char is a DJ at the nightclub that Elise attends and together, they form a bond over their love of music. It felt as if Char had gone from being a great, complex character who could have had a lot of potential to falling very flat and sadly, became very unlikable. His character had no real development like some of the other characters in this novel and his personality became truly horrible, especially with the way he treated the female characters and his negative reaction to Elise’s success. His blossoming relationship with Elise felt very forced and honestly would have been better if any romantic relationship between them was avoided. Besides, it was not a very good relationship since she was much younger than he was. I would not have been upset if Char’s character was left out of the second half of the novel.

TSWSYL reflects on the importance of being brave, especially when you have a passion that you want to follow and the importance of passions bringing communities of people together. As someone who enjoys reading, I love to share my passion with others and discuss books and theories for upcoming novels that people have the same passion for. Having a novel that reflects that importance of having a community to be your true self and to have that experience of bonding with people is what is needed in literature in order for people to see that it is okay to be yourself, it is okay to have a passion for something, it is okay to take that passion and make something incredible out of it despite if other people tell you it is silly because if it makes you happy… a passion could never be stupid or disregarded. Elise’s happiness stemmed from her passion to make other people happy by creating music as a way to join communities together. Music is a beautiful thing that should always bring people together! A message that was taken away from this novel is that once you find something you are passionate about and find people to share that experience with, life is just a new adventure and happiness can be reached despite the odds.

Overall, this was a novel that was well worth the read! The story is very short so it did not take a lot of time to get through the book, which is a contribution to my love for the story. Suprisingly, it has been the most relatable novel that I have read in a very long time so this one will stay in my heart for a while, as well as making me want to pick up more novels like this.

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