Sing Like No One’s Listening

Peachtree. Sept. 2020. 304p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781682631942.
Gr 7-10–Nettie gets accepted into Duke’s Academy of Performing Arts, the same place her recently deceased mother attended. The only problem is right after her (terrible) audition, she loses her singing voice. Determined to succeed at Duke’s, Nettie works on bringing music back into her life to help fill the hole her mother left when she died. To help her navigate her new school, Nettie finds friendship with fellow students Alec, Kiki, and Leon and a love interest in typical heartthrob Fletch. Intended to be a Fame-meets-Glee underdog story, this novel falls flat. The story is full of literary tropes and the LGBTQ characters read as stereotypical instead of genuine. Instances of body shaming and eating disorders are unfortunately too common within the dance community, yet feel like more of an aside here than something helpful for the storyline. No additional resources are given at the end of the book for the reader. Nettie is pale-skinned, Alec is tanned, Leon is Black, Kiki is “mixed race,” and Fletch is white.
VERDICT Readers looking for a YA novel about the love of theatre or the arts would do better to check out Leah Johnson’s You Should See Me in a Crown or Cynthia Leitich Smith’s Hearts Unbroken.

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