Title: This Song Will Save Your Life
Author: Leila Sales
My Rating: 4/5 stars
I’ve owned the book This Song Will Save Your Life for several years, initially attracted by it’s eye-catching cover and intriguing title. It’s sat on my bookshelves for several years, waiting to be discovered, realized, and felt. I’ve heard this book calling out to me on several occasions since being bought, begging to be read. Finally, for some unknown reason, I had the urge to pick this up a few days ago, and I am so thankful that I did.
This book was such a journey, and so heartfelt. I understood it’s main character, saw myself in her, and knew her. The story follows this main character, Elise, who’s a social outcast and does everything she can to change it. She spends an entire summer researching all the things that “cool” people do, wear, and know. She reads up on the lives of celebrities that she doesn’t care about, TV shows she doesn’t watch, and to her dismay, popular music that she hates. Then when it’s time to put this newfound knowledge to use, Elise realizes that none of it would ever make her cool. The trendy clothes that she spent a fortune on, the person she’s pretending to be… they always see through it. She can change how she appears all she wants, but she can’t change who she is. She can’t change the ill-timed questions or comments, born from a social cluelessness that she’s struggled with her whole life. Nor can she change the years of loser persona that she has perfected and her peers have come to know her as.
Somehow, Elise happens across an underground nightclub, where music rules the night and the people have no idea who she is during the day. No longer is she Elise, the loser. She’s Elise, aspiring DJ.
Elise’s story hit me so deep. While I was fortunate to be homeschooled and a part of a relatively accepting group of fellow homeschoolers, I was definitely never cool. When I was enrolled in private school for a short time, I was teased, and I absolutely know why. I was actually one of the most annoying kids ever. I liked to raise my hand in the middle of class because I had a comment or story relating to what the teacher was talking about. I picked my nose in public. I wore oversized hoodies and I never, ever, brushed my hair. I was the last of all the girls in my grade to get a training bra. I said things out loud that I probably shouldn’t have. I was a social nightmare.
When I left school and started interacting with new people, I was so excited to start over and try to be a cooler person. However, I learned the same thing that Elise did: it’s not cool to try.
This book also deals with having suicidal thoughts and cutting, and while I’ve never harmed myself in that way, I’ve had thoughts of killing myself before. However, this story stresses the fact that sometimes, people aren’t driven to kill themselves because something significant and horrible happened to them. Sometimes, it can be because a group of girls forced you to clean up their mess after lunch. It’s not about cleaning up the mess, though; it’s about that and every moment leading up to it. For Elise, it had been every torturous thing that happened to her, every mean thing anyone had ever called her, all the time she had spent trying to be cooler, trying to be better, and all her work being good for nothing. For me, it was every boy I had ever cared for rejecting me. It was finally being in a relationship, and not being happy. It was being treated like crap by the only boy who had ever liked me and wondering if this was how I was going to feel for the rest of my life.
Elise found her happiness, though, and so did I. Her story is inspiring and beautiful, and it touched me in a way that few stories have. I didn’t expect to love this book so much, but now that it’s a part of my life, I’m so happy to be able to share it. Elise’s story mirrors many of our stories, and it deals with some of the same pains and heartbreaks that we have faced.
This is my favorite book I have ever read that deals with suicide. It’s an encouragement to all those who struggle with suicidal thoughts, and an anthem to all those who have overcome them.
Please read this book.