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This Song Will Save Your Life Hardcover – September 17, 2013


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 - 18 years
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 720L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR) (September 17, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374351384
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374351380
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.1 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (90 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #290,389 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Elise Dembowski will not be unfamiliar to readers. The girl most likely to be picked on. A halfhearted suicide attempt. Broken family, no friends, no future. But then something happens. While wandering the streets one night, Elise comes across a warehouse party. The joint is jumping, and to Elise’s amazement, some of the people there are interested in her. Vicky, a singer, takes Elise under her wing, and Char, the amazing DJ, takes her to bed. But Char does something for Elise that’s more important than making her feel attractive: he tutors her in the art of DJing, and, it turns out, Elise is a natural. So much so that she soon outshines her mentor. What sets this apart from so many problem novels is how honestly and deeply Sales probes the life of a miserable 16-year-old, from her cringe-worthy attempt at learning how to be popular to the observational, rather than emotional, look at what it feels like to be with a guy. Readers will be fascinated and touched by the first-person voice because of what is roiling beneath it. Whether Elise is cynical, despairing, or even exhilarated, her hurt and confusion are the feelings that underlie everything, and teens will connect with her viscerally. That Elise finds something that awakens and restores her will also give readers hope. Grades 7-10. --Ilene Cooper

Review

Praise for This Song Will Save Your Life:

"The emotional resonance of Elise’s journey . . . feels very much of the moment." —The New York Times

*"Pulsates with hope for all the misfits." —Kirkus Reviews, starred review

*"What sets this apart from so many problem novels is how honestly and deeply Sales probes the life of a miserable 16-year-old, from her cringe-worthy attempt at “learning” how to be popular to the observational, rather than emotional, look at what it feels like to be with a guy." —Booklist, starred review 

*"Pulsates with hope for all the misfits." —Kirkus Reviews, starred review


More About the Author

Leila Sales grew up outside of Boston, Massachusetts, and graduated from the University of Chicago. Now she lives in Brooklyn, New York, and works as a children's book editor. Leila spends most of her time thinking about sleeping, kittens, dance parties, and stories that she wants to write. Learn more at leilasales.com.

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Customer Reviews

There were other characters that I liked as well.
Carina's Books
I just really loved the way This Song Will Save Your Life touched upon the idea that our passions can be so helpful to us, life-saving even.
Stormy(Book.Blog.Bake.)
The romantic aspect of This Song Will Save Your Life is powerful in that it helps Elise grow as a character.
Dayla F.M.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Nikki on December 14, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
[Originally posted on my blog, There Were Books Involved.]

This Song Will Save Your Life is going to be a really important book to a lot of people, because it’s a book with a really important message. If you’ve read it, I’m sure it touched you in some way — maybe it touched your heart because it’s a message you needed to hear 10 years ago, still resonating today. Maybe it’s a message you needed to hear now, that arrived right when you needed it. For me, I think it’s both those things.

Elise Dembowski is a high school sophomore, who wants nothing more than to fit in with the people around her. She’s been in school with the same group of people since kindergarten, and has always been an outsider. She knows what it’s like to be alone and invisible, but also what it’s like to be the center of attention, the butt of people’s cruel jokes. Because of the way she’s isolated from her peers, she’s come to truly believe that there’s something wrong with her, with the way she is, with her likes and dislikes and interests and clothes and bearing. She thinks she needs to change, to be normal, and then everyone will accept her.

Tell me you’ve never had that feeling before. *crickets* Yeah I didn’t think so.

"I don’t belong here. I don’t know how I got here, and I don’t know how long I can stay before everyone else realizes that I am an impostor. I am a fraud."

Teen-Me would have really benefited from This Song Will Save Your Life, I think. But Present-Me also needed the reminder this book drove home. This Song is a story about finding yourself; but more importantly, it’s about accepting yourself, and being okay with — or rather, owning — being who you are. Knowing you have strengths that are worthwhile, and important.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Sharif on September 19, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Elise Dembowski wants friends, but it seems impossible. She's an overachiever and rabid music lover who doesn't find the right match at school. Only users and bullies are attracted to her. After making herself over during the summer, she still can't manage to fall into the right crowd--even the nice girls seem to abuse her--so she tries to commit suicide. That attempt has dreadful repercussions both at school and at home.

There's an underground club named START that's in town. Elise stumbles on it during her late night walks when she's sneaking out of her mom's house. At START she meets people who love music as much as she does. Also, they're a varied bunch who accept her for who she is and even encourage her talents. She starts DJ'ing part-time there and it becomes something huge. She is a person of value. Her skills are amazing and she gets the dance floor pumping. Still, that negative voice in her head, a rival who can't be happy for her success, and the nasty people at school try to eat away her self-esteem.

This book felt so real. Elise's thoughts and actions jumped off the page. The big issue was Elise's level of confidence, but I liked all the other issues with parents, siblings, friendship, and romance. I also loved the musical references, many of which were from the 80s. Elise is a main character to root for and this is YA contemporary at its best. I received the galley from NetGalley, courtesy of the publisher.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By indiereadergirl0329 on June 24, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
Elise Dembowski is used to being the outcast. Bullied in High School; friends with two girls she has nothing in common with nor wants to find out if they can. After a rude encounter, she decides she can’t take it anymore. After a failed attempt, it isn’t until a friendly catcall one night on her late night walks, she discovers Start, an Indie night club that turns out to be possibly everything that she needs.

There weren’t many things going for Elise. She had two friends, but she didn’t have many things in common with them and often used them just for the company at lunch. Then Start comes into the picture and everything changes for her. After the DJ, DJ Char, from the Smiths’ song “This Charming Man” leaves her in the DJ booth so he can chase after their friend, Pippa, Elise discovers her true passion, garnering a new attitude on life, friends she actually trusts, and a fuller life.

Leila Sales writes a realistic novel about how hard it can be finding your voice in High School and the surprising ways we can find it. What starts off as a shaky novel with a problematic suicide scene that is more of a cry for help, Sales novel quickly develops into a fun, catchy novel about finding friendship and love in an upbeat indie club. But, the love isn’t necessarily with a boy–or a person. The music in the novel is great. The trope of Elise finding herself through music and DJing is perfect. It was nicely developed and written. There was DJ Char as a love interest, but he was more forgettable compared to the true love she felt with DJing. That was really what was home for her.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Christina Reads YA on September 17, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Ten Likes/Dislikes:

1. (+) Elise, the protagonist - Socially awkward. Independent. Loves music. Loves her family. Precocious. Teaches herself things in her free time. Diligent. Obsessive about the things she loves. Goes above and beyond for the projects she adopts in the summer or does for school. Somewhat judgmental. Good-hearted. Smart. Funny in a dry way. The thing about Elise and her voice is that from page one, whereupon she details the attempts she's made to change herself into someone "cool," she pulls you into her story. She wanted to belong someplace, and it took quite a while to discover what that meant for her.

2. (+) DJing/Music/World-building - Look, I am terrible with music. I didn't start really listening to any until I was in eleventh grade. I just wasn't interested. This book made me wish I had been. There are so many musical references that I imagine music lovers will LOVE this book and those of you like me who aren't as familiar will want to google various tracks or listen to the playlist the publisher has provided. I consider it a total success when the author gets you so invested into the world of music and DJing that you find yourself curious enough to research the details in your own time.

3. (+) Romance - This romance does exactly what it needs to do: advance Elise's character growth. Char is exactly who Elise needs at the beginning of her journey. He's definitely screwed up and makes mistakes, but that's covered by his charisma, charm, confidence - his drawing Elise from her shell and into the world of Start and DJing so that she could discover her passion.
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