DJ play that Song: This Song will Save Your Life by Leila Sales Book Review

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This Song Will Save Your Life

By: Leila Sales

Released: September, 2013 by Farrar, Straus, and Giroux (BYR)

Length: 279 Pages

Genre: YA-realistic contemporary mental illness-suicide attempt

Rating: 4 and a half stars

Acquired: Gift

 

Elise Dembowski is used to being the outcast. Bullied in High School; friends with two girls she has nothing in common with nor wants to find out if they can. After a rude encounter, she decides she can’t take it anymore. After a failed attempt, it isn’t until a friendly catcall one night on her late night walks, she discovers Start, an Indie night club that turns out to be possibly everything that she needs.

 

There weren’t many things going for Elise. She had two friends, but she didn’t have many things in common with them and often used them just for the company at lunch. Then Start comes into the picture and everything changes for her. After the DJ, DJ Char, from the Smiths’ song “This Charming Man” leaves her in the DJ booth so he can chase after their friend, Pippa, Elise discovers her true passion, garnering a new attitude on life, friends she actually trusts, and a fuller life.

Leila Sales writes a realistic novel about how hard it can be finding your voice in High School and the surprising ways we can find it. What starts off as a shaky novel with a problematic suicide scene that is more of a cry for help, Sales novel quickly develops into a fun, catchy novel about finding friendship and love in an upbeat indie club. But, the love isn’t necessarily with a boy–or a person. The music in the novel is great. The trope of Elise finding herself through music and DJing is perfect. It was nicely developed and written. There was DJ Char as a love interest, but he was more forgettable compared to the true love she felt with DJing. That was really what was home for her.

There were some little problems I had with the novel, particularly with her suicide attempt and her pseudo relationship with Char, but she remained mature and true to herself throughout the whole novel which is very difficult to do. I thought her new friends were excellent characters, particularly the bouncer Mel and her friend Vicky. They both brought life to the pages they were featured. The parents, when featured, weren’t the greatest of parents nor were the fully developed in my eyes. I did think, however, as much as I disliked Char, his characterization was spot-on.

I truly loved this book. I think because it was so heavy with music I normally listen to on a daily basis. I knew a lot of the songs that were referenced. I enjoyed the playlist at the very end of songs you would hear at similar clubs. I would highly recommend this book. It was a quick read. Something fun, and mostly read. Very engrossing and entertaining. I couldn’t get enough of it. Definitely one of my favorites for this year.

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Dear John Letters Get a Modern Update: Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira Book Review

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Love Letters to the Dead

By: Ava Dellaira

Released April 1st, 2014 by Brilliance Audio

Length: 8 hours and 35 minutes

Genre: YA Realistic Contemporary

Rating: Five Stars

Acquired: purchased via audible.com

 

Dear John letters with a twist in this dazzlingly, heartbreaking debut novel about a girl who writes to the dead about love, family, friends, and secrets she can only tell them–at first.

 Laurel chooses Kurt Cobain to write her letter for her first assignment. But, as she starts writing it, she realizes she can’t hand it in. She can’t hand any of them in that she writes, filling a whole notebook in one year. Starting with Kurt Cobain, her sister May’s favorite musician, Laurel writes about May’s life and death, about her own life including falling in love for the first time, making new friends, and her strange living situation. Only to Kurt Cobain, River Phoenix, Judy Garland, Amy Winehouse, Elizabeth Bishop, the actor who plays Mr. Ed, and more can she say what really happened to May when she died. Only to them can she write the secrets she has kept.

It’s not just her life she writes about. She writes about theirs. Specifically about their deaths. She asks Judy if she really wanted to keep taking all those pills? The pills she was given as a child star that never stopped coming as an adult. That maybe if she said no. Then there’s River Phoenix. That maybe he needed a parent to look after him. Like maybe May and her needed. Maybe they would both be alive. She tells Kurt Cobain his daughter is not alright without him. That he should have never thought that.

I quickly fell head over heels in love with this book. The letters are no way superficial. There is substance. They are sometimes heartbreaking, devastating, pull at your heart strings, then introspective, make you think about celebrities and how we think about them, and laugh. I fell in love with Laurel/Dellaira’s  writing style. They were fluid, elegant, and made me think. They was nothing in them that didn’t make me think or wonder. I felt for the characters. Their pain was, briefly, my pain. When Laurel slowly reveals her secret, my heart burst. As bad things happened, I got anger with her. Not at her, but with her, by her side.

Dellaira raised an interesting and very valid point about idolizing someone. A lot of the celebrities Laurel chooses to write to ended up dying of drug overdoses, or suicide. All at a very young age. Not as young as May, but relatively young. They were also idols in pop culture. May was Laurel’s ultimate idol. Even from when they were kids and May would say they were fairies and she would try to protect her. She idolized her so much she didn’t want to tell her the truth about something. The truth that when it came out Laurel thought killed her. Whether or not it did, you never know. But, Laurel has to go on her journey to stop idolizing her sister and see her as a real person. And, that’s what she does in the letters when she starts asking questions, like to River about needing protection. And, to Judy about the pills.

The journey is heartbreaking. But, worth it in the end. There is a beautiful poem in the end that Laurel writes to her sister that makes reading this book worth while. It’s truly amazing. I shed a tear the first time I heard it. There was something about it. If you don’t read the book, just read the poem.

This book really will take you on a journey. It will break your heart ten different ways. Pull on your heart-strings. Make you question almost everything about friendships, loyalty, love, and a little about who you are. In the end, at that poem, you will be mended. Your heart will be sewn back up. Your tears will be gone. Your journey will be a success. This is by far my favorite book of the year. And I’ve read about 20. Just sayin’ It’s that good. 🙂

Happy Reading!

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