Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Review: This Song Will Save Your Life, by Leila Sales

This Song Will Save Your Life

Title: This Song Will Save Your Life
Author: Leila Sales
Genre: YA Contemporary
Pub. date: September 17, 2013
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.

Told in a refreshingly genuine and laugh-out-loud funny voice, THIS SONG WILL SAVE YOUR LIFE is an exuberant novel about identity, friendship, and the power of music to bring people together. -Goodreads

2.5 - 3 Stars

If not for its perfect timing, I would have given This Song Will Save Your Life two stars.

When I first began this popular book, my expectations went from the heavens, down to rock bottom. I absolutely loathed the first few chapters. I was forced to endure a narrator who was not only judgmental, but who seemed to be suffering from permanent PMS. High school isn't that bad, I thought. The girl is a damn drama queen.

Of course, after this line of thinking irony decided to make its very welcomed appearance into my life.

Note: Beware of hyperboles galore.
The week I was reading This Song Will Save Your Life, everything that could possibly go wrong during school, naturally, went wrong. All of a sudden my grades began to drop, I did horrible on a couple of my finals, and had to go through unnecessary drama I never thought actually existed outside of Mean Girls. And, to put frosting on the cake, a bird decided that my hand was the perfect target to relieve itself of its warm black-and-white droppings.

I'll be honest here, I'm the kind of person that is over-enthusiastic about everything. I participate way too much in class more like yell out answers, I try to cheer up people when they clearly don’t want to talk, and I’m nerdy as hell when it comes to my choice of jokes. I'm not saying I've never been criticized before because of my optimism in school, but lately, fellow peers have been projecting their hate unto me. Seeing me as the best target, those eye-rolling chicks (and guys) from this particular novel magically came to life and decided to make their way into my school. I cannot count how many times I was insulted, talked down to, and graced with the pleasure of seeing someone roll their eyes at me in the span of one week. I don’t know where these girls came from, but I assure you, I’m not exaggerating.

There were a series of other events that unfolded which I’m too lazy to recount at the moment, but the point of my autobiography story is that, somehow, This Song Will Save Your Life opened my eyes. It proved me wrong, and stomped on my pride while continually laughing at me. To an extent, it helped me through the hell that was last week. Because sometimes, you need an exaggerated story to brighten up your life.

Now to the actual review. I think what I loved most about TSWSYL is the brutally honest writing. The narrator is not exactly a happy camper, but her cynicism is what gave this novel its originality.

I enjoyed the breath of fresh air that was the romance. No, the romance the protagonist shared wasn’t transcendent or magical in any way; it was just a normal love affair, and didn't pretend to be anything more.

Initially, I did not like Elise’s attitude, as you can probably tell. She looked down upon everyone (and when I say everyone, I mean EVERY SINGLE DAMN PERSON). She was a full-fledged snob, and one of the most judgmental jerks I've met, fictionally or otherwise. She did not exactly improve as the story wore on, and while I’m not sure how or when this transformation occurred, I began to not mind her that much. Regardless, I know for a fact that she will never be a favored protagonist of mine.

That being said, there are some aspects of the novel that are not easily overlooked. During the first few chapters, she tries to commit suicide, but makes sure to distinguish her attempt from others as being more justified. The ease with which she dismissed teenage suicide was disgusting and insensitive. She generalized all suicide attempts as being petty, and portrays herself as an angel from heaven in her attempt.

”But I wouldn't ask, because that made everything seem so clichéd. Another teenage suicide attempt, another cry for attention. It’s all been done before.

Speaking of clichéd, despite my above story, I still do believe high school was stereotyped a bit extremely. Not everyone in high school is that shallow, or mindless, or immature. So far, I've met my share of some awesome people, and none of them are by any means like the characters in TSWSYL. Sure, there a few unlikable people here and there, but the whole school? Isn't that a bit too unrealistic?

Moreover, I’m still not sold on the fact that everyone in the entire school knows who Elise is and hates her with a fiery passion. People may display indifference towards her (and that’s only because of her attitude), but hate is a pretty strong word reserved for people who have actually done something noteworthy (and not in a positive way).

TSWSYL definitely is a unique contemporary, but I only think people with the utmost amount of patience and are able to swallow down Elise’s snobiness would enjoy this. If you are like me, you’ll probably find yourself banging your head on a wall from the protagonist’s narrow-mindedness.

As for any life lessons I would have gained from this book, it’s nothing much, even though I am pretty much the target audience for this book.

ALSO: Am I the only one who thought the girl on the cover was sporting a Leia hair-do?

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