Author: Leila Sales
Publisher: Farrar, Strous, and Giroux
Year Published: 2013
I didn't really want to die. I never had. All I ever wanted was attention.
Elise Debowski had never been popular. In fact, nobody cared about her at school. No matter how hard she had tried to change herself, to follow the trend, no one wanted to be he friend. Even after she tried to cut her hand and made one of her classmates, Amelia Kindl, called 911 and saved her life--at least Amelia thought so.
Seven months later, her suicidal attempt led her to full supervision of her divorced parents. Elise must stay alternately at her mom's and her dad's house every week. However, they still didn't know what actually made Elise cut her hand. There was also no change at school except now Elise had two social-climber friends, Sally and Chava, whom she'd never understand the reason why they wanted to befriend her.
"It's Start!" Vicky replied. Her normal speaking voice was loud enough that she didn't even have to try to project over the music. "The greatest underground dance party in the world!"
Every midnight, Elise had this habit of walking around the neighborhood alone. Until one day, she met Vicky and Pippa, and an underground dance club called Start. Suddenly, Elise found a place which would accept her as she was. The DJ, Char, recognized her talent and gave Elise opportunity to become a DJ. Suddenly, Elise got the life and popularity she had been wanting to have. But how long would it last until she had to go back to her real life? What if her new life was not as beautiful as it seemed?
This Song will Save Our Life is a book that had been sitting on my TBR list for so long since I only heard good things about this book. So, when I got my birthday discount at Periplus, I didn't hesitate to buy this book and read it as soon as possible (read: after I finished all the confirmed blog tours and other book promotion stuffs, which is 3 months later :)). However, honestly, I cannot say that I'm satisfied with the story. This book indeed has great message for teenagers and parents but not as special as what I had hoped for. Maybe I've set my expectation too high on it.
The story started strongly as the author could describe Elise's feeling very well. Through her voice, I could feel her loneliness and despair. Students at her school didn't bully her actively but they ignored her. And things got worse as her parents had already divorced and into their personal lives so much so that they didn't pay attention to Elise too. Elise didn't have place to express herself. And what can kill you quicker than the feeling that you don't belong anywhere?
Until this point, I still can relate a lot to what the author was trying to say. I mean, teenage is really a crucial age, when you're in a process to find out the right place for you and what your friends say to you matters a lot. I still remember my teenage years, especially when I was in middle school (in Indonesia, we have 3 years of middle school, from grade 7 to 9 and then another 3 years of high school, grade 10 to 12) when I had to wear anything Esprit, Benetton, Guess and any other expensive stuffs if I want to keep my friends and also felt the ignorance of my childhood-best-friend-who-suddenly-became-popular-friend when I wanted to hang out with her and her clique. It was such a difficult time for me, but thank God in high school, all the peer pressure went down and I found friends who accepted me as I am.
Back to the story, however, it went down after Elise had been introduced to Start. First, I honestly cannot relate to the songs. I mean, if you are in a club for dancing, the song lists of Start that Char and Elise played do not fit it. Blur, The Cure, Depeche Mode, The Killers... how can you move your body to their songs? I kinda thing that Starts is more like an underground indie rock band club rather than dance club. When I go clubbing and want to move my body hard, I'd prefer songs by DJ Sammy, Tiesto, Avicii, and others like that. But I don't know, maybe I missed the description of Start when I read the book.
The second thing, is that I think that Elise was totally a jerk herself. What she did to Pippa and Char was really stupid--considering what had happened to her before. How can you do that to friends you've finally got? You have to treasure them! And I really dislike how the author seems to make Char the antagonist. It's not that Char got to his place easily. I think what Char did, the reason of his anger, is sensible and I would feel the same if I were at his place.
If only the conflict could focus more on what happened at Elise's school and family--which is very close to reality and can be empowering for the readers--and just let Start be the comfort sanctuary for Elise and the conflicts there can be removed, I think this book could be on my Favorite Contemporary YA Books List. However, this book has been published and many people like it so that it's probably just my personal taste.