DJ Elise Dembowski

19 January 2014

“I believe that a person's taste in music tells you a lot about them.
In some cases, it tells you everything you need to know.”

Hello, I am Krissy, and I am completing a 40 Books for 2014 challenge. The book This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales is my third. 
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.
I almost didn't finish this book, but only because I found it a bit difficult to relate with Elise. I can be terribly shy but it is fairly easy for me to befriend people, so it was hard for me to understand why she cannot get friends. I mean, if we knew one another in real life I'm sure we would hit it off right away, but then she's a fictional character so... yeah. (I do believe though that she and Charlie from The Perks of Being a Wallflower could be really great friends.) I was ready to give up but I was already 62% in and I knew I would have book-guilt if I didn't try to finish it. Kindles tell you what percentage of the book you're in; don't you just love technology? Good thing I did because I ended up liking it!

When I was a kid, one of my many dreams was to be a DJ because I thought it would be cool to play great music and get paid for doing it. I forgot all about that dream when I started wanting to be a writer instead, but I was reminded again when we had a DJ assignment for Radio-TV Production class in college. Oh man, I sucked big time! No matter how much I focused, I couldn't cue the next song nor work on the levers quickly enough. That was the final nail on the coffin of my radio DJ dreams. I've digressed so much, haven't I? Sorry. Anyway, although not exactly being the same as being an underground dance party DJ, it employed the same principles so I was able to understand the things Char taught Elise when she was still trying to learn.

At first I thought the book is about a teenager being too melodramatic and all because she couldn't find any friends, but then I thought about how lonely she must have felt — lonely enough to want to take her own life. It's horrifying to think how even with all this technology that claims to bridge communication and let people get closer, most still feel isolated. For someone who has always had a friend available when I need one (it's a gift and I am thankful), it is unthinkable but I know it happens. This Song Will Save Your Life chronicles how Elise was able to get past that and find a field where she truly shines, where she finally feels accepted and adored.

The story is told on a first person point of view, which is funny, sarcastic, and self-aware. I loved it. Aside from the tragic reality of suicide, the book also deals with family issues, friendship, identity, self-discovery, the incessant obsession for popularity, a little about love, and ultimately, music. Lots and lots of music. I've been listening to this playlist of the songs mentioned in the book all afternoon and I may or may not have been doing a little a lot of dancing while writing this post. It's a little embarrassing to admit it's the first time I have heard some of the songs there since I am a bit more of an alternative songs from the '90s-kind of girl but I guess it's never too late, right?

So yeah, read this book. Or not. Whatever you want. I'm not going to tell you how to live your life. ;)

“You think it's so easy to change yourself. You think it's so easy, but it's not. True, things don't stay the same forever: couches are replaced, boys leave, you discover a song, your body becomes forever scarred. And with each of these moments you change and change again, your true self spinning, shifting positions  but always at last it returns to you, like a dancer on the floor. Because throughout it all, you are still, always, you: beautiful and bruised, known and unknowable. And isn't that - just you - enough.”

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