Friday, August 16, 2013

Review: This Song Will Save Your Life

This Song Will Save Your Life
By Leila Sales
Expected publication September 17, 2013 by Farrar, Straus & Giroux

Elise is not good at making friends. In fact, her social life is basically non-existent. But she is precocious and persistent and she really wants to be popular. When her last big attempt at popularity fails, Elise is ready to give up. In the aftermath, Elise stumbles upon a party that will change her life - and maybe teach her some things about friends and popularity.

When I was at TLA and wandering the exhibit hall, I stopped at this publisher's booth and asked them which titles I absolutely needed to read. This was one of the ones they were most enthusiastic about. Unfortunately, they were out of galleys, so I made a note and filed it away for the future. Then, I spotted my new colleague reading an ARC of it one day during her lunch break. She happily loaned it to me when she finished it and I started reading instantly.

This is the first book by Sales that I've read but it definitely won't be the last. I tore through this book - as in, my colleague lent it to me one morning and I had it back to her by the next morning. It is a definitely a quick read. But it is also oh-so-good that you won't want to stop until you finish it. This book grabbed me from page one and didn't let me go.

Let me start with Elise. Holy cats, I love her. LOVE HER. I've probably said this before, but she is one of THE MOST realistic teenage girls I've ever read. Maybe I feel it particularly strongly because it was so, so, so painfully easy for me to relate to her. I mean, I was this girl. And I think there are more of these girls out here than we know or acknowledge. I love that Elise's voice is so straightforward and true. I love that she thinks popularity is an equation she can solve, a code she can crack, a skill she can master with enough practice. She is so believable and heartbreaking and I LOVE HER.

Then there is her discovery of an underground dance party. Things take off from there as Elise finds both her people and the thing that she truly loves doing. I will admit that I don't personally understand the appeal of DJing, but I love its popularity right now. What I do completely understand is music and how life-or-death important that is as a teenage (at least to every teenager I've ever known). There is something so completely overwhelming about hearing that song at that moment and fully believing that it was meant for you.

And then there is Char. Oh, Char. You are the boy. The boy in every straight girl's life. I think you know the one I mean. The one that is so wrong and yet so right for you. The one that can tempt you to just about anything. The one that you know doesn't treat you right but he's just so THE BOY that you maybe overlook that fact longer than you should.

Don't misunderstand me - this is not a light, fluffy romance. This book deals with really tough stuff and raw emotions. And, I wonder if part of the reason I love it is because it felt so therapeutic to read and resonated so deeply with my own life. But, if that's true for me, I can only guess how many other readers this will be true for. I definitely recommend this for teen girls and anyone who needs a story about being different and making that work.

Thanks to my colleague for loaning her advance reader's copy!

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