This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales – 5 stars
Published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR) in September 2013
Young Adult, Contemporary
“Don’t be special.” That’s what I would say to my younger self if I could pinpoint the moment when I went astray. But there was no one moment. I was always astray.
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.
Only good things have been said about this book, and it’s easy to figure out why: it touches something inside most people. Elise is someone we’ve all been: she is deeply lost, because she’s different from everyone else.
Haven’t we all felt this way? Like we’re something special, I mean – not better, but just uncommon and outstanding in a sea of people who are all the same. In Elise’s case, she was told she was precocious, smart and special from a young age, and at sixteen she’s an outsider, a misfit – apparently just because the other kids were jealous of her.
Well, let me just tell you. As someone who’s also been told she was precocious and smart, it doesn’t work that way. No one’s jealous because you get good grades, sometimes people just don’t like you. Maybe because you’re self-centered or too plain or more of a diva than you think you are. I’ve never had anyone dislike me because I’m top of the class. It was always for other reasons.
Plus, you know all those people who you think are cut-out figures of teen movie stereotypes? They have lives too. They have their own problems, their own complexity, their own personality apart from the one you’ve made up in your mind. You’re not that special.
I’m going to share something. I’ve felt like Elise does too, which you might have picked up from the previous paragraphs. When I was in middle school, I was the outsider. People didn’t get me, or they simply didn’t like me. I don’t quite grasp it all yet, but they made it pretty clear that they were not my friends. Now I’m okay, I guess, but that was a difficult time of my life.
So I understand, like lots of people who weren’t “popular”. I get why Elise feels the way she does. And I recommend this book to everyone that’s ever felt like they’re the odd ones out. It’s books like this one that remind me why I like reading. It’s books like this one, because they make me think, they are somewhat relatable, and they are accurate depictions of how the real word truly looks. Because there are no mean girls who live just to make fun of you, and there’s not one person in your school who genuinely wants to make people suffer. The way I see it, both the author and Elise point out that after everything, we’re all still people. So please, get a copy if you can.