Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

This Song Will Save Your Life Audio

This Song Will Save Your Life Audio

Leila Sales
For ages 14 and up
Unabridged audiobook (CD)
Performed/read by: Rebecca Lowman
Listening Library, 2014   ISBN: 978-0553395815

When she was in fourth grade it became clear to all the kids in her class that Elise was not going to be one of the popular kids. In fact, she was going to be one of those kids who would always be on the outside looking in, the one the bullies would target, the one who would desperately long for a friend. After years of being the unpopular girl, the girl whom no one befrieds, the girl Lizzie Reardon persecutes, Elise has decided that she needs to make a change.

All summer before her sophomore year begins, Elise spent her time learning about fashion and pop culture. She worked on changing herself so that she will, at long last, be able to fit in. Surely wearing the right clothes, knowing about celebrities, and being familiar with the music of the moment can’t be that hard to do. Surely doing these things we will enough to overcome her “uncool” reputation. It turns out that changing yourself is a lot harder to do that Elise ever thought it would be.

On that first day of her sophomore year Elise sits in the middle of the bus, instead of being in the front with the other kids who are lost and alone. She is wearing the clothes she bought that she thinks give her the right look. At lunch she even sits with a pack of girls whom she would like to be friends with. She knows that one of the girls, Amelia, is really nice, and surely the rest must be like her. As she listens to the girls talking, Elise realizes how on-the-outside she is. The girls chatter away about people she does not know, about parties she did not go to, and she is clueless and disconnected. The girls have a whole history that they share, a history Elise knows nothing about. They have rules that she has not even heard of, and during that half hour lunch period she even manages to trip up over one of those rules.

It is not a big trip up, but it is enough of one that Elise leaves school, goes home, and decides that her life is, quite frankly, not worth living. She test drives committing suicide, and only then, when she is bleeding from three cuts on her arm, does she realize that she does not want to die. All she wants is some attention; so she calls Amelia.

Months later Elise is still unpopular and mostly alone. Every night when she is at her mother’s house she goes out a for a long walk. Plugged into her iPod she disconnects from the world that makes her feel that she is a “fake.” It is during these walks that she meets two girls who are hanging around outside a warehouse. They introduce themselves, they ask Elise her name, and then they persuade Mel, who is guarding one of the warehouse doors, to let Elise in. They actually seem to want to be with her. When Elise enters the warehouse she finds out that it is an underground night club. She meets Char, the DJ, and for a while all is well. Until Pippa hands Elise her cup of beer clearly expecting her to be a human cup holder. Elise leaves.

In spite of herself Elise goes back to the nightclub, and she sees Vicky and Pippa again. More importantly she mans the DJ booth briefly while Char is doing something, and she really likes the way in which the dancers respond when she changes the music. It is an empowering experience, so empowering in fact that she asks her father to get her some DJ equipment and she starts to teach herself how to use it. She has direction again, and she even has a few people, interesting people, who seem to like her. Maybe things are starting to get better.

For a while they really are better. Elise DJs at the nightclub, Char helps her to master the skills she needs to be a better DJ and Elise is loving the experience. She even lets Vicky persuade her to buy some out-there clothes that are more suited to her new DJ self. Elise does not tell anyone in her family or at school about the club that she goes to every Thursday and no one knows that she is an up-and-coming DJ. Then, without warning, Elise’s two lives collide and her life falls apart.

In this of heartbreaking story, we meet a young woman who has been bullied and ostracized by her school mates for years. Completely lacking self-confidence, Elise lives for the day when she will be able to leave her school and move on. It is appalling to see how cruel people can sometimes be, but it is also empowering to see how the victims of such cruelty can rise above it.