Thank you to Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers and NetGalley for the eARC to read and review! Muffled goes on sale October 27, 2020.
Genre: Middle Grade
Recommend to Others?: Yes
ABOUT: A young girl learns how to cope with her noise sensitivity and step outside of her comfort zone in this heartwarming middle grade novel that’s perfect for fans of If This Were a Story and El Deafo.
Ten-year-old Amelia does not like noise. From subway brakes to squeaky sneakers, she is sensitive to sound, just like her dad. Amelia has always worn noise-canceling headphones, but now that she’s going into fifth grade, her parents want her to stop wearing them. To make matters worse, she must learn to play an instrument! Or, as Amelia sees it, make noise on purpose.
To help Amelia cope, her father gives her a pair of earmuffs to wear instead. Even with her new earmuffs, Amelia struggles at school…until she gets partnered with Madge in music class. Madge is loud and bold and goofy—everything Amelia is not. And so Amelia is surprised when Madge wants to be friends.
Still, it’s not long though before Amelia’s quiet nature clashes with Madge’s loud personality. And when Madge disappears after an argument, Amelia fears Madge might be in trouble. If she’s going to help her friend, she will have to find a way to let in the noisy world she’s muffled for so long.
My Review: Muffled is a fantastic book that exceeded my initial curiosity. I fell wholeheartedly in love with the story and its main character, Amelia.
Amelia is a bright girl who I immediately connected with. She’s also a bookworm who also loves Alanna from Tamora Pierce’s Tortall universe, so that was a huge bonus.
As someone also with sound sensitivity, I think the author does a great job depicting what it’s like to be a kid with – in the case of this book – sound sensitivity. Gennari’s personal experience (her partner) and research about sound sensitivity really shows. Amelia has always relied on her noise-cancelling headphones. It’s protected her from the worst sounds until she’s forced to go without at the start of 5th grade. In Muffled, we see Amelia’s life at school/home/public places as well as others’ (her parents, teachers, classmates) perspective about her.
Readers can still relate to Amelia and her desire to fit in. She wants to be like everyone else but it’s hard and the world is too loud. I like the inclusion of coping mechanisms – counting and breathing – when she’s experiencing sensory overload. The purple earmuffs are her first step in existing despite sounds.
Middle school is such a tough time socially and being different is often seen as something bad. I think just seeing Amelia try, fail, and try again will go a long way in helping others understand themselves and embrace their differences. Which is why Madge (a classmate) is the perfect antithesis to Amelia’s character. Madge is the opposite of Amelia but is also everything Amelia wants to be: seen, happy, and accepted. I loved watching their friendship blossom.
Muffled is very much a character-driven story. I loved Amelia’s character and teared-up several times during her struggles. I felt a certain kinship to her. Muffled is a quick but complete story-wise that you can read in a day. I recommend reading the back matter. There the author provides suggested resources and information about sound sensitivity, and what inspired her to write this book.
I enjoyed the story a lot and would read more books by Gennari. I would definitely recommend this diverse read to others.