Beyond Books

This Song Will Save Your Life

This Song Will Save Your Life
by Leila Sales

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. (

I had tears in my eyes by the second page of this book. I knew just by Elise’s voice and the words on those first two pages that this book was going to resonate so deeply within me and I was right.

This Song Will Save Your Life was the book I ended the year with. After the year that I had, I think a book like this was the perfect ending. There is something so genuine and piercing about Elise. Her words. Her fears. Her actions. Although I couldn’t exactly relate to the sneaking out and DJing at an underground dance party, I did connect with the other parts of her. The parts that “knew” being different was wrong. That being yourself and not fitting into the cookie-cutter cutout rules and norms of the rest of the teen world would result in being punished.

It was almost like Leila Sales took parts of my actual life and wrote them into a story. Obviously she didn’t because she doesn’t know me from Adam, but there were so many things in there that were my life. Starting in the 4th grade. It was scary and fascinating all at the same time.

Elise was rescued from her life though, so many others aren’t. However so many others are too scared to take the leaps and chances that can find them refuge among the wars that wage between high school walls.

The idea that some idiot can make a fake blog and write as someone else in a way to bully another kid is just terrifying to me. I don’t know why that idea never crossed my mind before because I’ll bet you it’s common. It’s just another example that has me pretty certain I’d have not survived growing up if the internet had existed back then.

This story is one of the few that gets the teen voice right. The struggles, the fears. And it’s not completely depressing, there’s humour among all of the angst and the angst isn’t superficial. I was just about bawling when Elise tries to save her sister from the same fate she feels she’s had. The lesson here is don’t be different. Don’t be yourself. Blend in. 

Honestly for most of my life I had the same mantra although it didn’t ever work. I’m still learning that being myself and being different isn’t something that deserves punishment. Unfortunately it took me 30 years to get to the point that I could start understanding and trusting that.

I thought this was an amazing book. I’m still thinking about it three days later and I’m still full of emotion over it. This book might have been one of the best gifts I have ever received and I am so happy that someone chose to send it to me. It was exactly what I needed to end my 2013. It helped me settle down my energy for 2014. It moved me. It made me laugh and cry. It made me want to check out the other books written by this author.

Mostly, it made me happy to be ME.


  • Kailana

    I have been seeing this book around lately but haven’t looked it up. I will have to see about getting it at some point. Glad to see you back around, Cat. Hopefully your blogging/reading mojo will return for 2014. 🙂

  • Caroline Taylor

    I read this about a month ago and absolutely loved it too, sometimes when a contemporary book is really hyped I find it a bit of a let-down but this lived up to the hype completely, I have to agree with you about growing up in the internet age, I always wish I was younger but I would actually hate being a youngster now when things could be posted about you on the internet, I didn’t even try to blend in at school and was always called weirdo, the thought of that being posted on things like facebook would have been devastating to me.

  • Trish

    I keep hearing such fantastic and fabulous things about this book. Sometimes the perfect book comes along at the perfect time and it sounds like that was the case for this one and you. Although I usually end up wishing I had all these books back when I was in high school!

    Happy 2014!

    • Cat

      YES! I wish I had these books back in high school, too. They’d have helped me I think.

      All these comments about hearing about the book and I hadn’t heard of it until it showed up in my mailbox. 🙂 It’s been a long time since I have been THIS out of the book news loop. 2013 was rough. 😉

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