Wednesday, August 26, 2020

ARC Review: Sing Like No One's Listening by Vanessa Jones

Sing Like No One's Listening
Author: Vanessa Jones
Publication: Peachtree Publishing Company (September 1, 2020)

Description: A moving story of grief and healing – sure to be a pure joy for any musical theater aficionado.

Nettie Delaney has just been accepted into a prestigious performing arts school―the very same school her superstar mother attended. With her mother’s shadow hanging over her, Nettie has her work cut out for her―and everyone is watching. To make matters worse, Nettie hasn’t been able to sing a single note since her mother died. Whenever she tries, she just clams up. But if Nettie’s going to survive a demanding first year and keep her place in a highly coveted program, she’ll have to work through her grief and deliver a showstopper or face expulsion.

All may not be lost, however, when Nettie stumbles upon a mysterious piano player in an empty studio after class. Masked behind a curtain, can Nettie summon the courage to find her voice? Or will the pressure and anxiety of performing come crashing down?

All about finding and raising your voice, and not throwing away your shot, Vanessa Jones’s well-crafted journey of grief and healing will pull readers along with its strong narrative voice and satisfying sense of mystery.

My Thoughts: This was an entertaining and emotional story about a young woman dealing with grief while trying to attend a high pressure college for the performing arts. Nettie Delaney is the daughter of a woman who was a star performer who died of cancer a year earlier. Nettie's mother was a dancer but Nettie's strength is her singing voice. At least it was until her mother died and she lost her voice. 

Nettie's audition was a disaster because she got a long-lost voice mail from her mother just before she was set to perform and found that she couldn't sing at all after receiving it. So she was very surprised to find that she had been admitted to the prestigious program despite her awful performance. Once she learns that that head of the school knew her mother, she thought she understood why she had been admitted.

The story is filled with a bunch of characters straight from teen melodramas. Almost the first person she meets is the awesomely talented and gay dancer Alec who decides that they are going to be best friends. And she meets the talented and handsome Fletch who wants to write songs with her. She makes friends with Kiki who is in the dance program and who feels like she always has to lose weight. There are the school Mean Girls in Natasha and Jade. Jade has a massive crush on Fletch, a dad who has bought her way into the school, and absolutely no talent. There is a mean ballet teacher who has taken Nettie in dislike and who belittles her at every opportunity. There are also sympathetic teachers like Michael who knew her mother and Steph who is the advanced vocal coach and determined to help Nettie get her voice back.

There is lots of drama too. Naturally Fletch and Nettie have difficulties with their romance. Between Jade who is constantly trying to attract Fletch's attention to Fletch's confusion about the real-like Nettie and the girl who is singing when he plays piano in the next room - who also happens to be Nettie. Time is spent with Nettie trying to figure out who her mystery accompanist is. She even suspects Jade at one point.

I liked the story and know that fans of musical theater and romance will enjoy it. Lots of the references to musical theater went right over the top of my head though because I'm a very casual fan of the genre. I really liked that Nettie had a strong body image and was confident in her appearance despite other people's attempts to belittle her. 

Favorite Quote:
I've always secretly longed for a Roberta Flack moment -- hasn't everyone? But now, here it is, and it isn't killing me softly -- it's battering me to death.
I received this one in exchange for an honest review from NetGalley. You can buy your copy here.

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