Release Date: September 17th 2013 by Farrar, Straus, and Giroux (BYR)
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.
Sometimes people think they know you. They know a few facts about you, and they piece you together in a way that makes sense to them. And if you don’t know yourself very well, you might even believe that they are right. But the truth is, that isn’t you. That isn’t you at all.
Reading this book was both the best and worst experience for me. The most prevalent emotion I felt was frustration. I was frustrated with the story, I was frustrated with the characters, I was frustrated with Elise’s situation. But I was most frustrated with how it felt like I was reading my very own biography.
Elise Dembowski is unpopular. She’s the subject of constant bullying by her peers, and things only got worse when she tried to kill herself at the beginning of the school year. She sworn off making any friends until she stumbles upon a warehouse party and discovers her hidden passion: DJing.
Up until now, I thought I would never meet a character I could genuinely relate with. With Elise, I didn’t sympathise with her situation; I was in her situation.
During my freshman year of high school, I was exposed to the big and dangerous world. I didn’t know anyone because I had transferred schools. It wasn’t long until I was making new friends, but I was also making a new version of myself. I was turning into someone I didn’t know because I had wanted to be like everybody else. Of course, my definition of everybody else was twisted: someone who curses like it’s a second language, someone who judges people, someone awful. I had become like that all because of my need for acceptance.
I believe that a person’s taste in music tells you a lot about them. In some cases, it tells you everything you need to know.
And just like Elise, I turned to the only constant thing I know: music. It became my escape. My playlist was what set me apart from everyone. It was that one thing that nobody else knows about. For me, music played a big role in helping me cope with my loneliness.
I’m sorry if this review veered towards the personal. This book made such a huge impact on me that I can’t not express my intense feelings. I’m almost tempted to call this The Perfect YA novel just because it was realistic in every aspect possible; from the characters to Elise’s emotions. I also must applaud Sales for writing something so special and now dear to my heart.
I hope this book reaches more people out there who are like me, and need to be reassured that they are not alone in this world.
P.S. This review wouldn’t be complete without a song, of course. There’s actually one song that “saved my life”. It’s called Kitchen Sink by Twenty One Pilots. It’s about finding purpose and treasuring that purpose. The lyrics are so brutally honest and emotional raw that I can’t help but tear up a little because they speak to me. These are the words I’ve been trying to say but couldn’t.
I’m a kitchen sink
You don’t know what that means
Because a kitchen sink to you
Is not a kitchen sink to me, okay friend?