Contemporary Young Adult

Muted by Tami Charles Review

Carried by the poetry of this hard-hitting YA novel in verse about the dark side of the music industry, your soul will ache, your soul will soar.

Seventeen-year-old Denver Lafleur wants one thing more than anything, to take her music from the local (corn festival) level to the stardom level. And Denver’s got a plan: take her girls (Dali and Shak) and their harmonies and catch the attention of R&B megastar Sean “Mercury” Ellis.

Low and behold, the R&B stars align, and before they know it, Denver, Dali, and Shak are sneaking off (and away from their mostly White suburban town) and recording music at Merc’s studio. Merc’s got some weird rules: no phones, no walking anywhere on his property unescorted (even the bathroom), and he wants the parents as out of the loop as possible. That’s fine with Denver. A music career is (a whim to her parents and) the last thing they’d ever sign off on.

Muted is told through flashbacks over a two-hour plane ride; things have gone down and Denver’s dad (a pilot) is bringing her back home. The narration is part apology, part explanation, part statement of facts (from Denver to her dad) on how and why things went down.

“And I’m sorry, Papi.

For lying. For leaving.

But not for the music.”

Charles’ writing is a rare kind of exquisite, words that wrap around soul (oh, the emotions you’ll feel while reading this one) and activate senses. It’s like you can hear Denver’s music. It’s like you can feel her ache to be heard (to be un-muted) but also to do right by best friend Dali, who needs the music career to work out even more than Denver. What happens, of course, is the opposite of that unmuted freedom.

Muted is a novel that draws straight from the headlines and is uncompromising in its depiction of the dark side of the music industry, where power is so imbalanced that it leaves girls and women of color open to abuse. The story pulls no punches as it addresses sexual assault, abuse, and kidnapping. A book that will stay with you long after the final page and one that I cannot recommend enough.

One of my must-read recommendations for 2021!


Book: Muted
Published: Scholastic Press
Pages: 400
Publication Date: February 2nd, 2021
Stars: 5/5

The publisher kindly provided me a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion, rating, or the content of my review.

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