It’s been awhile since my last post; I’ve been out of town for a bit so now I’m getting back into the swing of things!
While I was away, I read a few books including This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales. I did not particularly like this book (for reasons I will discuss) but I also wanted to review this book because it deals with a lot of great music references and ties them into the story quite well.
The novel takes place through the eyes of Elise, a sixteen-year-old year girl that isn’t very popular and doesn’t have many friends. After having enough, she attempts suicide but fails. Through her walks at night driven by insomnia, she stumbles upon a nightclub where she discovers that she has the passion and talent for DJing. She also befriends some other “outcasts” and starts seeing a boy from the club.
Now, I know this book is a YA novel but I found it quite hard to get through. The language was was too simplified; Sales wrote everything how Elise would say it. It was annoying because it wasn’t intellectual or stimulating; it was literally hearing a sixteen-year-old whining in your head. I may be nitpicking since I haven’t read a YA novel in a while and I know that it reflects the character’s age and such, but that was a huge peeve.
I also found the plot problematic at certain points; first of all, I did not like at all how Sales decided to play out Elise’s “suicide”. It was completely taken light of and not given the seriousness it deserved. It said right in the book “I just wanted attention”. That whole beginning was enraging. It really just felt that Sales wanted a pull to get readers interested in the book but to me, she went about it all wrong. The ending was also very disappointing, in my opinion (I won’t spoil but it leaves too much to the imagination).
The one thing I appreciated about this novel was the musical references involved. Elise listened to a lot of punk/indie music (old and new) which I was really happy to see; she really described how the music made her feel and why she loved that kind of music. I really hope that it influenced some young readers out there to explore that kind of music and experience it for themselves. Music is so organic; it means and feels something different to everyone and they’ll never know that feeling if they don’t listen to it. A lot of the older punk/indie music is slowly dying (ie: The Smiths, Blur, Pulp, etc) so it was great to read about such bands in a newer novel so next generations can learn and experience “new” music.
The only way I would recommend this novel is if you love happy-ending stories that involve punk/indie music and teenagers. If not, then you’d probably enjoy something else more.
PS. Some other great punk and indie rock bands that are worth listening to (but aren’t necessarily in the novel) are:
- Patti Smith
- Joan Jett
- The Cure
- Talking Heads
- The Ramones
- The Clash
- Foster the People