Don’t Stop the Music: ‘This Song Will Save Your Life’ by Leila Sales

Have you guys ever been in a reading slump? What a terrible feeling. For someone like me, who prefers reading to most things (I mean, besides eating…I’m not insane), being unable to get into a book is a serious bummer. That’s why I’ll be forever indebted to This Song Will Save Your Life for pulling me out of my weeks-long slump. From the second I read the first couple of lines (“You think it’s so easy to change yourself. You think it’s so easy, but it’s not.”) I was hooked.

Elise Dembowski is miserable, friendless and bullied when she basically hits rock bottom. Lonelier than ever, Elise takes to sneaking out of her house in the middle of the night and wandering the streets until she tires herself out. That’s how she stumbles across Start, an insanely cool secret dance club hidden away in a warehouse.

At Start, Elise has a whole new life. She even has friends–and a crush on Start’s DJ, Char, who just so happens to be named after a Smiths song. It’s true that a lot of YA books mention the Smiths, but you know what? I love it, and I think it’s extremely accurate, because guess who really loved the Smiths in high school? If you guessed me, good job using context clues! I adored the Smiths, and I truly felt that if I just met a guy who liked them as much as I did, I would find my dream dude. Basically I was Joseph Gordon Levitt’s character in (500) Days of Summer, but I didn’t have a sassy little sister played by Chloe Grace Moretz to tell me how goofy I was being.

That being said, it is great to find people who care about the same things you do, especially in high school, when it can sometimes (or, okay, often) feel like no one else gets you. And that’s what Elise finds in her friends at Start. Finally, people who are like her and just want to dance to New Order. Elise even starts to discover that she’s a killer DJ, and her night time life becomes way more exciting than her day time life. But what will happen when both parts of Elise’s life come together–will everything totally fall apart? Insert dramatic music here because I’m definitely not telling you what happens. You’ll have to read it!

Guys, I straight-up loved This Song Will Save Your Life. It was romantic, smart and funny, despite the dark subject matter. It dealt with friendship and family drama. Basically, it ruled. If you like books that combine self-discovery with a lot of great music, you’ll love This Song Will Save Your Life.


-One of the reasons This Song Will Save Your Life is so fun is because of all the music. In fact, there’s even a playlist at the back of the book. I’m only a little ashamed to admit that I hadn’t heard of all the songs.

-Although the book is definitely as exciting and funny as I described above, it also really handles the darker moments of Elise’s life. Elise isn’t the typical “nerdy” girl you often see in fiction or teen movies. You know, the girl who has one of two similarly nerdy friends but who’s basically doing all right for herself. Elise is desperately alone and sad, and the book begins with her suicide attempt. Obviously, things start to look up from there, but the book doesn’t sugarcoat her unhappiness. And while TSWSYL definitely doesn’t get all “the end of a 7th Heaven episode” about its message (which is to say, it wasn’t cheesy), it still made me think about how we never really know what’s going on in the lives and the heads of the people around us. Reaching out and being friendly to people might not help, but it definitely won’t hurt.

-Did I mention that there is a WAREHOUSE DANCE CLUB in this book? Well, there is. If that’s not enough of a reason for you to read it, then I don’t know what to say to you. As the world’s worst dancer and someone who rarely goes out at night (like a reverse Maneater), I loved living vicariously through Elise and her friends.

-This is the second Leila Sales book I’ve written about in Young Adult Education. Past Perfect was also awesome!

What about you guys? Have you read This Song Will Save Your Life? How much did you love it? Let me know in the comments! And, as always, I love to hear your suggestions for books to feature in Young Adult Education. Leave a comment, email me at [email protected] or find me on Twitter @KerryAnn.

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