This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales

Making friends has never been Elise Dembowski’s strong suit. All throughout her life, she’s been the butt of every joke and the outsider in every conversation. When a final attempt at popularity fails, Elise nearly gives up. Then she stumbles upon a warehouse party where she meets Vicky, a girl in a band who accepts her; Char, a cute, yet mysterious disc jockey; Pippa, a carefree spirit from England; and most importantly, a love for DJing. 

song

Happy (early) Valentines Day! If you are without a date, you can always spend the night with a reliable book boyfriend.  Or, check out TSWSYL if you share in Elise’s love of music. ♥

I devoured TSWSYL in two sittings.  I was so caught up in Elise’s story that I never felt like I was reading. Immediately, I was able to connect to Elise’s real and relatable character.  Elise struggles to fit in with her classmates, and spends a summer trying to learn how to be ‘cool’.  Unfortunately, her doubts and insecurities become too much to bear and she turns to self-cutting.  Luckily, music enters her life and the story begins to change from heartbreaking to inspiring. Elise finds her true passion in being a DJ, and slowly begins to accept her true self.  My friend has a tattoo that reads, ‘music mends broken hearts’ and I think it’s definitely true in Elise’s case.   In addition to the music, an interesting cast of characters (all with their own faults) help Elise realize her potential.  Although I doubt a few hours of practice can turn anyone into an amazing DJ (especially at 16), I am willing to overlook this.

Overall, I adored this contemporary, coming of age novel. It is powerful, and emotional. Readers are reminded to discover and embrace themselves and find comfort in the power of music. Don’t forget to check out the recommended indie dance song tracks listed in the back! I’m listening to ‘Come on Eileen’ as I write this review.  TSWSYL is my favourite 2014 read, thus far.  Pick it up today!

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Scar Boys by Len Vlahos

A severely burned teenager. A guitar. Punk rock. The chords of a rock ‘n’ roll road trip in a coming-of-age novel that is a must-read story about finding your place in the world…even if you carry scars inside and out. 

scar

In addition to praise for debut author Len Vlahos and his characters, the back cover hails The Scar Boys as “THE MOST ANTICIPATED YOUNG ADULT NOVEL OF 2014” . That’s quite a big statement!  Unfortunately, I didn’t feel as moved or impressed as these booksellers.

Readers are introduced to Harry through his personal essay to The University of Scranton in 1987.  Rather than sticking to the 250 word limit, he writes his life story using appropriately titled rock and roll chapter headings.  The story opens with Harry becoming severely scarred (both physically and emotionally) after almost being struck by lightning. After Harry is rejected by a girl, his best friend suggests they start a band, and so, The Scar Boys is born.  With a passion for music, they take their three dude, one woman band on the road.  No surprise to anyone that the girl and the van become an added complication for the band.

I understand that like Harry, not everyone has the goal to attend college. Many people are just as well off following their dreams.  Obviously there is a transformative power in playing music, but I didn’t like the ending. He admits to being a coward and that playing guitar, loving music, and having friends is ‘good enough’ for him. How depressing.

The Scar Boys tour your way January 2014.

Where She Went by Gayle Forman (If I Stay #2)

It’s been three years since the devastating accident . . . three years since Mia walked out of Adam’s life forever.

Now living on opposite coasts, Mia is Juilliard’s rising star and Adam is LA tabloid fodder, thanks to his new rock star status and celebrity girlfriend. When Adam gets stuck in New York by himself, chance brings the couple together again, for one last night. As they explore the city that has become Mia’s home, Adam and Mia revisit the past and open their hearts to the future-and each other.

Told from Adam’s point of view in the spare, lyrical prose that defined If I StayWhere She Went explores the devastation of grief, the promise of new hope, and the flame of rekindled romance.

where she went

I rarely read sequels.  However, having just finished If I Stay, I knew I had to pick up the next book, Where She Went.  In book one, Mia narrates the events leading up and following the tragic car accident that killed her family. Fast forward three years later for book 2 and now Mia’s boyfriend, Adam shares his story. It is a sad, raw and powerful narrative that will pull on reader’s heartstrings.  Adam is deeply affected and confused following his separation/breakup with Mia. I thought this was refreshing to see, as often it is the female character that is shown destroyed by a breakup.  Like the previous novel, memories and flashbacks of their relationship are again provided throughout.

Emotionally connecting with Adam came easy.  Like Adam, I felt anger toward Mia for how she ended things. When the truth is told, I was confused.  I’ve never experienced loss like Mia, so I couldn’t completely understand her reasoning. I believe that if I were in her shoes, I would have never pushed Adam away. I would have accepted all the love and support, rather than trying to erase him from her life.  However, I enjoyed the conclusion to their story and was left with feeling of hope. Pick up this realistic teen fiction series for a touching and beautiful read.

BookIt Guest Review-Chopsticks by Jessica Anthony & Rodrigo Corral

I rarely have the pleasure of coming across a picture book for teens so I was thrilled to come across the uniquely told story of Chopsticks.

After her mother died, Glory retreated into herself and her music. Her single father raised her as a piano prodigy, with a rigid schedule and the goal of playing sold-out shows across the globe. Now, as a teenager, Glory has disappeared. As we flash back to the events leading up to her disappearance, we see a girl on the precipice of disaster. Brilliant and lonely, Glory is drawn to an artistic new boy, Frank, who moves in next door. The farther she falls, the deeper she spirals into madness. Before long, Glory is unable to play anything but the song “Chopsticks.” But nothing is what it seems, and Glory’s reality is not reality at all. In this stunningly moving novel told in photographs, pictures, and words, it’s up to the reader to decide what is real, what is imagined, and what has been madness all along.

Chopsticks is not just a regular picture book, it is a story told through a  mix of images from photographs, letters, television shots, cell phone messages,  CD lists, artwork, menus, and more.  As a reader I felt like I was going the personal scrapbook of Glory, uncovering the key moments of her life from losing her mother to losing her grasp on reality. I think that this book would be a great choice for those who enjoy expressing themselves artistically. I went through the book several times, loving the images, and even followed it up by listening to some of the songs they share with each other. I believe teens will be able to identify with elements of the story, and enjoy the alternative format.

I give it 4 out of 5

Happy reading,

Bookit

p.s. check out the YouTube version of Chopsticks

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