ARC REVIEW #165: This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales

Title: This Song Will Save Your Life

Author: Leila Sales
Publisher: Farrar, Straus & Giroux
Release Date: September 17, 2013
Pages: 288, Hardcover
Source: ARC obtained at BEA

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.

“You think it’s so easy to change yourself. You think it’s so easy, but it’s not. True, things don’t stay the same forever: couches are replaced, boys leave, you discover a song, your body becomes forever scarred. And with each of these moments you change and change again, your true self spinning, shifting positions – but always at last it returns to you, like a dancer on the floor. Because throughout it all, you are still, always, you: beautiful and bruised and unknowable. And isn’t that – just you – enough?”
It’s extremely difficult to capture the essence of This Song Will Save Your Life. Leila Sales has created something truly and simply beautiful with Elise’s story. This book is so much more than a girl who, when all hope was lost, found something to keep her going. It is a beacon of hope for anyone who has ever felt down about themselves.

This Song Will Save Your Life is told in an easy and open manner largely through Elise’s internal dialogue. It begins with her at her lowest, when she has given up trying to change the way others see her. But then she discovers Start, true friends, and a passion for DJ-ing. Slowly her life starts to change, including her attitude about herself and others. She finally starts to grow into her own skin and build some confidence. But it’s not an easy process. Her school life is very much still hell for her and she barely keeps her head above water.

Elise was very matter-of-fact as she described the way things were. She had this understanding and awareness about the world around her. The tone wasn’t depressing, but rather honest. Elise didn’t hate herself. Not really. She just accepted the way others saw her because she had no evidence to the contrary, at least none that she could see. She was stoic, resigned.

Elise was really amazing. She was smart and true and good. I just loved her voice as she told her story. I think she can be a real pillar of strength for teens that that are bullied or isolated for being different because ultimately she endures, and she excels. High School is not the end all, be all. But it's really hard to see that when it's all-consuming.

It’s really hard to describe this book. At the most basic level, it’s about a girl who is different and it’s those differences that bring her torment in one environment but allow her to blossom in another. I think everyone will experience this book a bit differently depending on their own personal history/feelings. But it is sure to cause you to feel something.

I loved the music theme in this story. I loved how every chapter began with a song lyric. I loved the quirkiness of the characters.I loved the secret of Start. I loved the change we see in Elise. I loved how immersed herself in tasks. I loved how she became the best at whatever she tried. I love how she used the word precocious to describe herself. I love that she was funny. There is literally so much to love about this book. It was serious but light. Refreshing and relevant. Beautiful and sad.

I strongly believe in the influential power of music. But even more so, I believe in the power of books. And that is why I am always going on and on about the message that a book sends to its readers, ESPECIALLY in the young adult genre. If authors are going to approach a difficult subject (i.e. teen pregnancy, suicide, bullying, sexting, etc.), then they need to do so in a way that is relevant, relatable, supportive, and healthy. By the end of that book, readers should be taking away something positive, some lesson learned, some hope.

This Song Will Save Your Life was a perfect example of what an author should strive to do. The message was strong and clear and encouraging. I really loved this book.
“What’s wrong with me, Ms. Wu? What’s wrong with everybody else?”


  1. I can't wait fir this book to release!! There hasn't been a lot of reviews about it, but the ones I've read, just sing it's praise.
    I just really can't wait for it to release so I can read it already!
    Great Review :D

    1. It really is wonderful. I hope you love is as much as I do!

  2. I can't wait for this book! I love Sales' writing and it sounds like she hit another book out of the park! I'm so glad that you enjoyed it so much!

    1. I need to read more books by her! This was my first one!

  3. After that review, I'm definitely going to have to read this book. It sounds amazing. ~Pam


Copyright © 2014 The Quiet Concert
Template and Design by New Chapter Designs