Monday, January 06, 2014

2014 book 7

Leila Sales' This Song Will Save Your Life
I have actively been avoiding reading this book, despite positive reviews, because I absolutely HATE the title. It's like that one scene in that Garden State movie. Terrible. No. But then I realized that Sales was the author of Past Imperfect, which I looooved. So, okay. It's about teenage outcast Elise, who everyone has hated since they were all kids because she . . . wore an ugly sweater? I don't know. Also, she listens to THE CURE and thinks pop music is terrible, so obviously she just can't fit in at school no matter how hard she tries! Actually, the beginning of this book is completely depressing, even though I sound flippant about it--I just hate books about teenagers who JUST CAN'T FIT IN because they like music that is "uncool" even though the Cure sold millions of albums and had videos on MTV, ok, everyone likes the freaking Cure. I've seen college a capella groups do songs by the Cure. Listening to the Cure and the Smiths does not make you special. And surely there is one popular song she can secretly find catchy, no? Musical taste is not a good marker of weirdness nowadays--don't they have hipsters at her high school? My high school had hipsters, but then again, it WAS the 90s. Sales does nail Elise's feelings of loneliness, though. Anyway, then she discovers an underground dance party and her life is TRANSFORMED. Teenagers dancing to Blur! What a world.

And as a former longtime college radio DJ, I can tell you that Sales' DJing info is accurate! But, like, everything else was kind of annoying. I kind of resented the implication that Elise's problems were due to her being precocious, when she never makes any effort to actually be friends with the people she hangs out with. She's never like, "hey, want to see a movie?"  I started wondering if Elise was on the autism spectrum at a certain point, because she was so bad at interacting with people and reading social cues. Things get better like 2/3 of the way through, but the inevitable triumphant ending feels pretty pat.

This book was fine. It probably doesn't merit such sarcasm on my part, but man, YA tropes involving music are like grrrrrr to me. Whatever. B/B-.

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