Muted by Tami Charles | Review

Back in Brooklyn,/the Lafleurs were inseparable./Me, Ma, Gwen, and you, Papi./We had a big family,/tons of friends,/music in every bodega,/every corner,/ya know,/actual civilization.//But then y’all got scared…/of them city streets,/of the cost of living.//But the cost of living/was much higher here./For me.//In those mountains,/with the three of you always gone…

Denver’s family left Brooklyn for a small town, taking her away from the city people, culture, and life she loved. Like a square peg in a round hole, Denver felt like an outsider in her family and her town, leaving her desperate to get out. She was determined to use her talent to get out, and she had a plan – get noticed by super star Sean “Mercury” Ellis. When Denver’s shot goes according to plan, everything else starts falling apart.

This was a pretty gut-wrenching book. Not just for the tragic events that unfold, but also for the way rural place plays a role in that. It’s Denver’s desire – need – to get out, her desperation, that fuels the plot.

Muted would be an excellent read to critically engage with ideas around place, its connection to race, class, culture, and to the narrative that you have to leave a rural place if you ever want to be somebody. Denver’s story illustrates how in an effort to be somebody, we can lose ourselves – and everything else – completely.

Readers who are also fans of music, true crime, and the nexus of the two will love this book. Its connections to current events, especially R. Kelly’s conviction, will interest and engage readers who have followed that saga and offer important opportunities to consider issues that plague the music industry, especially as they are connected to age and gender.

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