Review of Muted

by Tami Charles 
High School    Scholastic    400 pp.    g 
2/21    978-1-338-67352-4    $18.99 
e-book ed.  978-1-338-67353-1    $11.99 

This timely and lyrical verse novel offers a heart-wrenching, unflinching look at the underbelly of the music industry and its exploitation of those who dream of making it big. Three best friends, all talented singers and girls of color who dream of a life outside of their small, mostly white Pennsylvania town, slip away to Newark and find their way into the orbit of Sean “Mercury” Ellis, the “King of R&B.” Merc encourages their ambitions and takes them under his wing. His promises of fame and fortune not only fuel their dreams but also their insecurities, which Merc is able to capitalize upon as he begins to morph from a smooth, crooning mentor into a sinister, controlling abuser. Charles (Like Vanessa, rev. 3/18, and others) takes on the difficult topics of emotional manipulation, sexual exploitation, and abuse. These vulnerable young women’s stories are, sadly, not uncommon [see also Tiffany D. Jackson’s Grown, rev. 9/20, and Sharon G. Flake’s The Life I’m In, rev. 3/21], but their tight bond as friends continues to offer hope in the midst of sacrifice, broken promises, secrets, and lies. The writing at once urges readers to relish the verse and catapults them toward a breathless, satisfying conclusion.

From the March/April 2021 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Monique Harris

Monique Harris is a public educator, reading specialist and independent educational consultant. She holds a Master of Science degree in Education from Simmons University, and is enrolled in a PhD program at Florida State University.

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