Kathylill 's Reviews > This Song Will Save Your Life

This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales
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did not like it
bookshelves: 2013, young-adult, reviewed

When I first read those glowing 5-star reviews I was hooked. I couldn’t wait to get my hands on this book as soon as it came out. Such high expectations.

Sadly this is not for me. How bizarre that I really couldn't connect to it and this story's main character. I don’t like this girl, really I think she is blasé, she is a flake and most of all I hate her for her attitude because she is oh so special.

“I was born to be unpopular”

So starts the story of Elise Dembowski, sweet sixteen but sadly nobody sees her that way. She is bullied, has no friends and her parents are divorced. She is the one that sits alone in the school bus. How pathetic. Guess what? If you wouldn’t listen to your iPod with the earphones constantly plugged in and instead smile once in a while to people, they might actually talk to you.

Everybody I know, really everybody has embarrassing moments in his life and pictures and memories and scars to show for it. It’s called childhood and it’s called growing up. And to think that you’re so special nobody will ever like you for you, that is just simply stupid and arrogant.

For someone who gets bullied, misunderstood and is constantly underestimated at school I thought she might know how wrong it is to being judged by others because of your looks and outward appearance.

But noooohooo for our special Elise all people around her are just stupid, idiots or bitches. She is as much a snob if not worse as anybody else.
I was working on my combination when my friends showed up. You know, Chava and Sally. Those friends. “Just the people I wanted to see!” I said to them, and I wasn’t even sarcastic for once.

From the first page to the last she kept judging people, her friends and even the boy she made out with, everybody. For example: Her cool indie rock is so much better than the popular music.
The one thing I couldn’t bring myself to do was listen to the music. I tried, for nearly an hour. Then I gave uo. It was bad. Not even interesting-bad (…). The popular music wasn’t interesting-bad, it was bad-bad. Auto-Tuned vocalists who couldn’t really sing; offensively simplistic instrumentation; grating melodies. Like they thought we were stupid.

Really? Just because I like to listen or dance to pop music once in a while you oh so special girl can call me stupid and brainless? Elise’s attitude is so offensive to me because the majority of people and especially my friends like all kinds of music. I like to listen to live jazz in a smoky bar, go to classic guitar concerts, I enjoy opera but I really love a DJ who can make me dance with house music. I like indie rock as well as hip hop and don’t you dare tell me I am brainless and offend you because I like listening to “popular music”.

So, because she is this spectacular music genius, after a few hours of practicing she is this AWESOME DJane at this AWESOME underground club, at 16. Suuuure. But not enough, she also gets a job offer after only a few weeks of half-an-hour appearances as DJ for the whole Friday night putting on music until early morning. Seriously? Are fucking kidding me? Maybe that is news to you, but at this age and according to youth labor laws that also apply in the USA as far as I know this is prohibited (it is called: Young Persons Protection of Employment Act ) I believe it is liable to prosecution to put 16 year olds to work after 8 pm. But our Elise is soooo special she is even better than DJ Char, the boy who she made out with during the last weeks, who showed her how to DJ and gave her an opportunity to perform as one in the first place.
Pete took a swig of ginger ale. “If you’re saying that you’re sure I could find some thirty-six-year-old guy who’s spun ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’ so many times that he’s able to play Tetris in his phone while he’s DJing, while chugging Red Bull so he can stay awake until four am, then yeah.I’m sure I could find that guy, too. (…) But, Elise, believe me when I tell you this: your talent, your natural talent, puts Char’s to shame.”

Again our oh-so-special Elise is better than anybody else even her “mentor” DJ Char and the Underground Friday Party Night in an old warehouse will be promoted with her picture and her name online in the local newspaper. Let me tell you this: No DJ will attract a crowd because he is an upstart. But of cause special DJ Elise does. And last but not least Prince DJ Char(ming) turns out to be Michael who works as server in Antonio’s Pizzeria and who is “only” a part-time student at the college.
That was Char. It was all laid out for me across the Internet. It was a simple portrait of a person, like a million other people, and I felt the magic of Char float off into the air, as if I’d blown on a pile of dust.

After I had learned all I cared about Michael Kirkby, I looked up my own name. (…) The first two search result were the same as always. (…) But the third result was different. Elise Dembowski suicide had fallen down on the list. The third thing that came up when I typed my own name was Elise Dembowski DJ. I stared at my computer screen for a long moment, and I smiled.

You know what Elise; fuck you and your attitude. You are nothing special. You are like a million other people out there and maybe just maybe I suggest you talk to people instead of judging them. Maybe Michael has a reason for his way of life. But you never cared to know, because you didn’t even want to know his real name. Maybe you should care more about friends and family instead of destroying your sister’s castle and being sarcastic and dismissive to your dad and the people who actually care about you throughout this story.

I really get that she has a hard life in high-school, that she doesn’t like her class mates and being called lesbo because she doesn’t wear a bra at age 16, well it’s not funny but girl really wear a bra, those boobs bounce and jingle and make 16-year-old boys all kinds of horny and say all kinds of nasty things to you.

Being 33 years old I can honestly say I am glad I am out of school. It was a horrible experience sometimes; at least for me. But this novel gives young adults the wrong idea: that if you are an outsider you are special and you just go out at night walk into an underground club and you’ll see how everything changes like in a fairy tale. And no, this is not true. Because I went out at night, and I did go to parties and I met all kinds of wrong people, started taking drugs and have meaningless sex with boys I never met before. And the way Elise takes is not right: her nightly adventures, her making out with Char, sneaking out of the house in the middle of the night…

Everybody is special. Everybody has something good to show, everybody has gone through life altering moments as well. Maybe some people were popular in school. But even they had heartbreak, or have lost dear ones, or have a problematic family situation. It just takes talking to them to get to know people and it takes courage to open up and to confide in others. But sadly our special Elise didn’t really learn this lesson.

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Reading Progress

June 17, 2013 – Shelved
June 17, 2013 – Shelved as: to-read
September 16, 2013 – Started Reading
October 2, 2013 –
21.0% "I am not really convinced. This poor poor ME and her snappy narrator voice. Well maybe I'll just have to wait for her to grow on me."
October 2, 2013 –
24.0% "Whitney Houston "I want to dance with somebody" ... Awwwwww ... That is sooooo cute."
October 2, 2013 –
29.0% "So happy she wears her Unicorn boots again ... good girl :)"
October 2, 2013 –
43.0% "hmpf, ... boring again"
October 2, 2013 –
74.0% "16 year old girl gets the friday night DJ gig for this special special underground disco... Yeah right ..."
October 2, 2013 –
77.0% "Noooooo .... she just didn't do this, no no no"
October 2, 2013 –
88.0% "omg ... this is so fake"
October 2, 2013 –
90.0% "reading a crowd ... my ass"
October 2, 2013 – Shelved as: 2013
October 2, 2013 – Shelved as: young-adult
October 2, 2013 – Finished Reading
November 21, 2013 – Shelved as: reviewed

Comments Showing 1-24 of 24 (24 new)

dateDown arrow    newest »

Navessa I totally agree about how judgmental she was of those girls. It irritated the hell out of me until the end where she realizes what she was doing and felt like crap about it. If she hadn't, I would have rated this lower. I actually disliked her character for a lot of the book but everything felt like it came together at the end for me and all that frustration I felt ended up being worth it.

I agree with a lot of the other points you make in this review too and I've actually had a couple of other friends rate this low for similar reasons. Sorry this one wasn't for you :(

message 2: by Katrina (new)

Katrina Passick Lumsden I had contemplated reading this, but now I think I'll pass. I can't stand the "I'm an outcast so I'm entitled to be a bitch" attitude. And it sounds as if I would hate this girl. So thanks for saving me some time!

Courtney Townill I haven't even finished the book yet, but I also dislike how judgmental she is. Even when her 'friends' try to set her up with a date for the dance, she can't even focus on what he's saying because she's too busy criticizing his pimply face. i just also can't believe that there is NO ONE at this whole high school who wants to be friends with her. I think the bullies are too over the top and there are too many? I just didn't believe that EVERYONE in the WHOLE school had turned their back on her, but when she goes to Start, there's a whole club of people who are just a breath older than her who love her? great review!

Kathylill Thank you Courtney.

message 5: by Eve (new) - rated it 1 star

Eve ITA with everything you said. I hated Elise, she was awful.

Tessa I agree heart-heartedly. This book had a strong start, but it failed to deliver the true message to its readers. You will not become amazing in an instant because your life is not a book and there is no author behind you to make everything better...

Mystery hello,

I respect everyone's opinions and I hope you respect mine like I respect yours. I strongly disagree with you. Okay about the first bit, did you read the book? Didn't you see how she tried to smile? How she spent all her allowance on designer clothes and sat in the middle of the bus? How she walked over to a bunch of girls she didn't know, with the exception of one, and asked if she could sit there? Did you read the part where those girls made her clean up after them? Or the part where three girls sat in two seats, when there was an empty seat right next to them? And I dont believe she judges Char. Now maybe it's because you haven't been through this, or you did and you just forgot how it felt, but sometimes you meet this guy who seems otherworldly to you, it is like he stepped out of a movie and strait into your life. And that intrigue, that mystery adds a little spice to the way you feel about him. So when you uncover it, the spice dissolves. She said the magic of him floated away. And that is fine. 'Dont judge what you dont understand.' Moreover, she didnt just get the gig, she practiced and practiced and practiced, and she failed so many times in the beginning when she was beat-matching. She's human. She might have judged Chava and Sally in the beginning, but she later discovers that on some level they were her friends and she did love them, she even said that herself. I keep rereading your review and I keep wondering, did you even read the book? And she did want to know his real name, but he said "tell me yours" and she didnt want him to know hers, because then he would see the fake suicide blog. The book was unbelievably true. That is how this generation thinks 'wanting attention, wanting to be popular' that is what is on it's mind and then she grew up. I went through the same journey as her, only with the aid of a tumblr blog where I posted fics rather than DJing. And in that blog, in those few hours where I typed like there was no tomorrow, I was me. And that is how I found myself again. That story may seem absurd to you, but it isn't. So many of us have been through the same thing. When you write a bad review you have to take into consideration the damage you are doing to book and the author. This book is worth picking up and reading, don't just hate on it because you got offended that she said "like they think we are stupid." It was her opinion and it's so many other's opinions. You can hate it, but don't post a bad review until you are sure of your facts, and unless you're posting the whole truth.

Kathylill I don't have to share my life story with you like other reviewers did. I am sorry I didn't like the book, but I have read it and I am sure of my facts :) ... I even have quotes in my review out of this book. Please write your own 5-star review and don't tell me how to write mine

Linea Gabel I'm sorry, but I think it's called lack of empathy.
And if I may ask you a question; why are you so provoked by the main character? You just seem to take her really personal.

Gloria Kathylill... review so precise, couldn't have put it better myself.

message 11: by Katrina (new)

Katrina Passick Lumsden I'm sorry, but you peeps bashing on the reviewer for not liking this book need to take a step back and think about what you're doing. You can't convince someone to like a book by convincing them they're wrong about their own feelings. Some of us don't like books where the protagonist's own actions are in complete opposition to what he or she claims to believe. The reviewer stated the reasons for her dislike of this book, and she stated them clearly and rationally. So rationally that I was able to determine that I wouldn't enjoy this book. Like the reviewer, I have a strong dislike of books written by authors who seem oblivious to the inherent hypocrisy within their own writing.

It certainly sounds to me like the reviewer had all the "facts" she needed to write a review based on her personal feelings and perceptions regarding the story. I'm sure she read everything the protagonist went through, just as some of you did. What you disagree on is whether or not those experiences entitled said protagonist to be a judgmental hypocrite.

Selcouth_Reader Wow. You guys obviously aren't teenagers who've been through something Elise has. You guys don't get that we don't think we're all that special. We sometimes want attention, but don't go about our ways getting it like you guys think we do. You guys don't get that she judged people because that is how us, humans, are programmed. Everyone judged her, so she did was what was natural, she judged everyone else. You guys can't tell me that you've never wanted attention or never judged someone. You can tell me that you never knew what it was like to feel outcasted since you were little. The only reason Elise wears headphones all the time is 'cause she was labeled as the "weird kid" since she was small, so she found no reason to purposefully interact with the people who judged her. You guys just don't get it...

message 13: by Savannah (new)

Savannah I agree with you 100%. I couldn't finish this one -- it was hard enough getting through the first three chapters. I get that a lot of people like it, it has a 4-star rating.. But it's definitely not my cup of tea.

Jason Agree with this review, though I bumped my rating up to a 2 because I like some of the side characters. Lol at "evok[ing] strong emotions" equaling "a lot of talent." Fifty Shades is another one that evokes strong emotions...because of how awful it is. Doesn't somehow mean that the author's talented.

Anusha Couldn't agree more with your review.

Brenda A I absolutely agree with your review. I didn't read any reviews before I started the book and now that I've finished it I'm looking at all the 5 star reviews wondering what I missed.

message 17: by J. (new) - rated it 2 stars

J. J Agreed. It seemed kind of childish.

message 18: by Megan (new) - rated it 1 star

Megan I literally hated every aspect of this book except the music. Other than that it was trash. Oh and I loved Alex.

message 19: by Emma (new) - rated it 1 star

Emma Foxtail I agreed with you. From the beggining I really hate it. You wrote this review perfectly and for those who doesn't like this ? Everyone can't like everything.

Rex Balboa Thank you for this review. I rated the book more highly, due in large part to the problematic nature of the protagonist. She is judgmental, deeply troubled, and (it seemed to me) somewhere on the Autism Spectrum. It's nice to see a protagonist a bit more nuanced than the typical two dimensional presentation seen in YA novels.

Personally, I hated the way she treated her family. Still, I found the both engaging and enjoyable.

message 21: by [deleted user] (new)

Thank you!! I finally found someone who agrees with me. A friend told me to read this and I saw the glowing reviews but I ended up severely disliking it. (See my long review for the reasons why)

message 22: by Ruthanne (new)

Ruthanne Reid THANK YOU. This character made me throw up a little.

I took so many notes, but I got so angry I finally couldn't finish.

This is a HARMFUL book. It tells miss there are no real consequences for things like suicide, that you don't have to try to get to know other people, that if something (like being cool) doesn't work in four hours you should give up.


Solidet M.M. I respectfully disagree, I loved the book, I loved Elise, I cried many times and laughed as well. I guess you all didn't liked it because you're not like Elise, not enough to say the F word to a teenage girl who doesn't even exist tho, if you are so angry with Elise I wonder how angry you get in real life with real life teenagers that are simply not you

have a nice day

WhatIReallyRead 100% with you on this.

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