Review Detail

Young Adult Fiction 920
YA fiction about grief
Overall rating
Writing Style
SING LIKE NO ONE'S LISTENING is a YA fiction about grief and anxiety. Nettie lost her mother unexpectedly after a diagnosis of secondary cancer about a year ago. Since then, she has been lost in her grief, made even more pronounced by her grandmother's cruelty. She has decided to apply to a school for the arts, planning to go for her voice. However, when she gets there, she finds she is unable to sing after she thinks of her mother and runs out crying.

To her surprise, she gets in to the prestigious school anyway, likely because her mother was such a renowned ballerina. Once she attends, she finds she is still unable to sing in front of anyone, her teachers and some of the students are bullies, and she still misses her mother terribly.

What I loved: The portrayal of grief here is really well done. We really feel her grief and the pain that she continues to feel, which manifests in her anxiety over singing - something she had always loved. Nettie is struggling, and this felt really genuine, as she tries to live in a world where her mother is no longer physically present but emotionally still so real.

What left me wanting more: I found a lot of the characters to be one-dimensional, and I wanted more complexity. I also felt like some really big issues were brought up rather bluntly and dismissed. For instance, she is physically abused by one of the teachers and fat-shamed (her confidence renders her immune, but we see this play out in other students), and considering how vulnerable she seems, none of this really seems to phase her at all. I would have liked a deeper discussion of these, as this can be quite harmful. As another topic warning, there is also a mention of sexual abuse (past) from another character.

Final verdict: SING LIKE NO ONE'S LISTENING is a book about grief and the process of living after the loss of a loved one. This may work for younger YA readers as long as there are discussions of some of the difficult themes around the reading.
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