This Song Will Save Your Life

This Song Will Save Your Life

Elise wasn't sure what to add to her killing-myself playlist, but never dreamed that she'd finally find friends through a suicide attempt and music.

Being born unpopular was the problem - Elise hadn't had a friend since grade school, and high school was simply hell. Her remarried mom with the perfect husband and two perfect kids didn't see it, her rock musician dad didn't see it, so Elise figured why live at all?

Of course, killing herself didn't work, made her more of an outcast at school than ever, kept her awake at night. Running in the dark calms her down and one night brings her to a secret dance club in a warehouse. Great DJ, awesome music, folks don't mind that she's just 16 - Start is the best thing that ever happened to Elise.

Soon, she lives for Thursday nights at Start (never mind that Mom thinks she's asleep upstairs) where Vicki, Pippa, and Char respect her eclectic taste in music, encourage her to try becoming a DJ, and like her for herself - especially handsome Char.

Secrets can be hard to hide, though, and Elise's lack of sleep and dropping grades trip her up (have her folks ever stopped considering her a repeat suicide risk?).

How can she keep DJing at Start?
What suddenly made affectionate Char so distant?
Why is high school so important anyway?

Her dad taught her about all kinds of music, her mom taught her about social activism - maybe Elise needs her friends at Start to teach her how to live.

Recommended by: Katy Manck, Librarian-at-Large (retired academic/corporate/school librarian), Gilmer, Texas, USA – blogging young adult books beyond the bestsellers at


"Sometimes  you want to go
Where  everybody knows your name,
and  they're always glad you came.
You  wanna be where you can see,
our  troubles are all the same.
You  wanna be where everybody knows your name."
--  Theme song from the TV show Cheers

What  do YOU think about this:
"I  had always thought that if I just did something extraordinary enough,
then  people would like me.  But that wasn't true.  You will drive away
everyone by being extraordinary.  You will drive away your classmates and  your never learn your lesson.  The world embraces  ordinary.
The world will never embrace you."

Did  you ever go through a time when you felt like you didn't belong?
Thank goodness for the Grateful Dead's providing me at least one venue as a
teenager, where I could be different and still always feel like I belonged  to
something.  Thinking back over my own struggles, I’m not surprised to be
so moved by this emotional and engaging story of teenager Elise  Dembowski.

Sixteen  year-old Elise Dembowski has struggled forever with feelings of
not  belonging.  She has grown up a very successful learner, but she cannot
navigate the social thing to save her life.  In fact,  Elise devoted the
entire summer, prior to her sophomore year, to analyzing  popular culture and
fashion so as to finally figure out the secret to fitting in  at school.

Unfortunately, her ten-week focused effort goes up in  flames before she even
disembarks from the school bus on that first day of tenth  grade.  By time
lunch period blows up in her face that first day,  Elise decides to cut out of
school, walk home, and kill  herself.  And the resulting monologue, as Elise
contemplates the  options for her own demise, is up among the LMAO funniest
pieces of writing  I have encountered in 2013.  The voice here is truly

"And  you may ask yourself
'Well,  how did I get here?'"
--  Talking Heads (1981)

Elise does  not kill herself.  And, in the long run, beginning on one of
the late-night  walks she takes to try to keep sane, she accidentally falls in
with a slightly  older crowd who attend a weekly, late-night, underground
dance party in a  warehouse.  There, her lifelong  obsession with music,
along with some good luck, leads her to the DJ's  booth.  Will the results prove
or disprove what she says about the  world never embracing you?

There  is some really good, eye-opening stuff here.  Being that this is one
 of those books that could well save a life, I very much encourage
overlooking the typical objections (content; language) that some will have about
adding this one to the middle school collection, and recommend that  you do

288 pages  978-0-374-35138-0  Ages  14 and up

Richie  Partington, MLIS, Librarian, California USA
Richie's Picks _http://richiespicks.com_ 

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