The Clasp by Sloane Crosley These Shallow Graves by Jennifer Donnelly Sofia Khan is Not Obliged by Ayisha Malik

This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales

Monday, November 4, 2013

Publisher: Macmillan Children's Book
Format: Bound proof (thank you Georgia if you ever read this!)
Rating: 4/5

Elise Dembowski is a bit of a precocious clever clogs. Needless to say, this does not make her too popular with her classmates. After trying everything to  navigate and perhaps infiltrate the complicated social hierarchy of her school,  Elise thinks perhaps it would be better if she just gave up. However, her plan fails and she still remains friendless. So, to combat the constant noise in her head over the situation, she begins to take nighttime walks and happens across two best friends who convince her to accompany them to a club night. It is here that Elise begins to find herself and begins the journey of becoming who she wants to be. 

I'm not very good a writing synopses, so that sounds a lot more melodramatic and cheesy than it is in reality. In fact, there's definitely more to it than a girl becoming who she wants to be through her love of music. First things first, there was a whiff of MTV's Awkward here, which wasn't a bad thing but it meant I heard Jenna's voice and I don't know if I was supposed to. 

The characters were...complicated. I can't work out if they were unlikeable, unknowable or a little underdeveloped in certain cases. Now, we have this debate about unlikeable characters often. Of course you can write unlikeable characters but there has to be something extra there to make the reader keep reading. Obviously, in this case there was more than something extra because I rated it 4/5! Elise calls herself precocious and she certainly is, which is occasionally endearing but mostly annoying. There were occasions where her actions didn't always match up to her character. For example, would someone who was so obsessed with making friends, fretting about what other people thought of her, be so aloof when her dalliance with another character started? Then again, YA is all about teenager's 'finding themselves', so maybe that was more Elise's true nature but it still bothered me a bit. 

And then there was Char (even though it was his nickname, I still didn't like it). I just could not get a handle on who he was supposed to be and I guess that was his purpose. He represented the older guy who the younger girl projects all her expectations onto but in reality he's just a boy wanting to make the most of his college days. 

On the flipside,Vicky was the fun, bubbly proof of what lay in wait on the other side of high school for Elise if she could just hold on a little longer. I wish there had been more of Vicky in this story. I also wish there had been more Pippa! Perhaps Leila Sales wanted to avoid the triangle of doom (we're all a little bit tired of the love triangle, aren't we?) but still, Pippa was such a laugh. It was also refreshing to have a British character from a Northern city too. After all, London is not the only 'cool' place on this little island.

As for the remainder of the characters, Elise's 'uncool' friends were reminiscent of Tamara and Ming from Awkward again but proved fairly useful in the end. Also, Ellie's parents, whilst very civil and liveral, seemed extremely preoccupied with their own lives, which allowed Elise to escape at nights and live her double life. 

Now, onto the most important aspect of this story - the music. This story was an ode to music - indie music and the 'scene'. There was nothing to fault where the music was concerned. I head the songs as I read each title, which really helped bring the book to life, particularly the club scenes. Leila Sales did a great job of describing that frenetic, pulsing energy created when a good DJ is at the helm. There's an accomanying playlist and most of these songs mean a lot to me too - songs I grew up with, songs that are woven into the fabric of our culture. In that respect, it reminded me of the film version of Starter for 10, which used music so well! I could talk for hours about what these songs mean to me (because we all love to reminesce, right?) but for now it is enough to say that the songs are the beating heart of this book. 

Overall, it is a book about self discovery and the fact that once you find your thing, your schtick, all the rest will follow. This Song Will Save Your Life has a lovely message and off the chart kind of brilliant music, so go on, give it a try!

Have you read This Song Will Save Your Life? What songs from your school/college days hold a special place in your heart?

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