MUTED by Tami Charles is a heart wrenching novel-in-verse inspired by true events. It examines the dark side of entertainment industries, how people can twist your mind and use whatever they can to get you under their control, and how the world often doubts or denies victims. Denver's story is tragically realistic and encourages a call to action to pay attention and listen closely. It's also about the perseverance to keep believing in yourself when others don't.
The verse format is beautiful and fits the music scene setting. It flows smoothly and incorporates Denver's lyrics seamlessly. I love the places it gets creative with format and spacing, like when the airplane is rising and when a sound gets louder.
Denver is a fully fleshed out protagonist with huge dreams and a lot of love in her heart for music and especially for her friend-and-maybe-more Dali. They don't have a neat label for their relationship, but they also don't need one. It's clear that there is immense care and love between them, both romantic and platonic. Part of Merc's abuse is keeping them isolated from each other and trying to force arguments and division. There are several scenes toward the end where they're able to find each other that had me in tears.
MUTED is a stunning heartbreak of a book that pairs well with Tiffany D. Jackson's GROWN and Angie Thomas's ON THE COME UP.