This Song Will Save Your Life

7 CDs. 8:15 hrs. Listening Library. 2014. $45. ISBN 9780553396461. digital download.
Gr 9 Up—Elise Dembowski hopes that by studying how to be cool, she can put an end to the bullying that has plagued her since the fourth grade. But when the first day of sophomore year goes nothing like she planned, she almost ends her life. Months later, Elise stumbles upon an underground dance club called Start. Char, the disc jockey, recognizes Elise's musical talent and offers to teach her DJing. At Start, Elise finds the acceptance she has always wanted. She develops a friendship with a college girl named Vicky and becomes intimate with Char. Her secret DJ life gives her strength to endure the torment of school, but it isn't long before her classmates discover a blog called "Elise Dembowski's Super-Secret Diary." How does the author seem to know all of Elise's deepest, darkest thoughts? And how will Elise react when the walls between her regular life and her secret life come crumbling down? Sales, author of Past Perfect (S. & S., 2011), presents an honest portrayal of a girl who has been beaten down by life but, despite it all, remains hopeful. As narrator, Rebecca Lowman creates distinctive voices for each character and succeeds in vocalizing Elise's inner struggle. Elise's experience will be relatable to anyone who has ever battled with issues of bullying and identity.—Amanda Spino, Ocean County Library, NJ
Sophomore Elise Dembowski is distraught over her low social standing in high school; she experiments with self-cutting, reaches out to the wrong person, and ends up even more ostracized than before. Then one midnight she chances on an underground warehouse dance party, where she’s noticed by Char, the DJ, who teaches her the tricks of the trade and offers her a guest spot. School gets worse, though, when a blog supposedly written by her begins to chronicle her (again, supposedly) suicidal tendencies. Narrator Lowman begins her narration too slowly, making Elise’s lively, sardonic internal voice sound more like a performance at a pretentious poetry slam, but Lowman has a gift for dialogue, particularly the snotty teen girl variety, and the story picks up the pace as Elise begins to come out of her shell. A list of recommended songs completes the presentation. anita l. burkam

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