This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales Book Review

This Song Will Save Your LifeBook: This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales, Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR), On Sale September 17

Book Info: YA Contemporary, Review copy provided by the publisher, Available in HC 288 pages

Rating: 4 / 5 Stars

More Info: Goodreads | IndieBound | Amazon

This Song Will Save Your Life is the first book I’ve read by Leila Sales, but it won’t be my last. As a big music fan, the fact that this book is about a troubled girl who learns to be a DJ sounded pretty awesome. TSWSYL is easy to relate to- who hasn’t felt like an outsider at times, and I rooted for Elise to find her own beat.

Elise is sixteen and a loner at school. She’s bullied and wants to get out of the cycle and find a place to belong. She puts herself out there by smiling and wearing the right clothes but nothing seems to work. In a desperate cry for help she attempts suicide, but the aftermath of that decision makes things worse. And someone is even cyber bullying her by taking on her persona in a fake blog. She copes by walking the streets at night listening to music, and one night she walks by Start, an underground dance club. She meets two girls (Vicky and Pippa) who invite her to join them, and Mel the doorman, and Char the DJ complete the makeshift family. Start becomes a weekly nighttime haunt for Elise, and before long she’s spending time with Char learning the art of DJing.

Leila Sales’ writing makes those feelings of loneliness and despair from high school feel real. You can feel Elise’s desperation and how she tries so hard to fit in. One of the other sides I found interesting about Elise’s character is that she is so self-aware, and gifted in a lot of ways; she picks up new talents very quickly, and that maybe is what makes her intimidating to others.  I liked seeing Elise own her amazing qualities as she learned not to hold herself back just to please others. The dark days for Elise can be hard to take but the ray of hope found at Start balances them out.

Something else I loved about the book was of course the music.  Music can be a salvation, and Elise learned that from a young age. Elise’s dad (Elise’s parents are split and she divides her time between two households) is in a one-hit wonder band and exposed Elise to all different types of music from a young age. So, she has a vast arsenal of songs in her pocket to use in the DJ booth. Elise learns to read the crowd at Start, and becomes an unstoppable force. The tricky thing is managing this double life when you’re a late-night DJ / high school sophomore.

Besides the music, I liked seeing the friendship relationships develop in the book, and found Elise’s growth very satisfying.  There’s a little bit of a romantic storyline but it’s not the main focus, and the friendship angle is what I found the most meaningful.

This book has a hopeful “things will get better” vibe and I would have loved to read it when I was in high school. I don’t think I could have gotten away with sneaking out at all hours to DJ on a school night though!

If ever it was appropriate for a book to have a playlist, it’s for TSWSYL, and the official book playlist below includes a lot of the songs played at Start:


10 thoughts on “This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales Book Review

  1. Amanda says:

    This book sounds sooo good! I just can’t wait until I can finally get a copy! 🙂
    You wrote a wonderful review and I’m glad you enjoyed it!

  2. BermudaOnion says:

    This sounds terrific! I think music plays a big role in the lives of most young people.

  3. Daphne says:

    i loved this book too! it’s one of my favorite so far this year. great review!

  4. fishgirl182 says:

    This sounds like an intense but really good book. I keep hearing great things about it.

  5. kay says:

    I really loved the “Things will get better” vibe you mentioned. It made the book a lot less “heavy” on the mind without taking away form its depth. I really like Leila Sales’ writing! Great review!

  6. Oh yes, I definitely encourage you to check out other books by Leila — I’ve really loved all of her books.

    This one was so fab! There’s just something so lovely and truthful about it. I also think it’s one of those books that I would have adored even MORE if I had read it as a teenager, which is perfect.

  7. bookgoonie says:

    I’ve already put this book on my school to buy list for this year. I think it will be a great addition to our library, for our kids & of course for me to read 😉

  8. I really enjoyed this one too. I read Most Girls Are or Some Girls Are by Sales and I didn’t remember loving it (maybe I read it too close to The Boyfriend List) but this one, wow. Blew me away. Really liked getting to know Elise and watching her figure out a difficult situation. Kids in school are so cruel. Sigh. I will have to listen to this playlist when I go home! Thanks for posting it!

  9. […] This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales Book Review ( […]

  10. […] A few 2013 favorites are: Sex & Violence, Out of the Easy, Fangirl, The Reece Malcolm List, This Song Will Save Your Life, and Openly […]

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