S. & S. Oct. 2020. 224p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781534463653.
Gr 4-6– Amelia, a 10-year-old white girl, deals with noise sensitivity. Constantly teased by other kids, Amelia finds sole companionship in her fish, Finway, and in books. Her parents, teacher, and counselor want her to stop using her beloved noise-cancelling headphones because of her difficulty making friends. When Amelia is forced out of her comfort zone by taking a music class, she befriends a loud classmate who also learns to accept her. While a middle-grade reader who enjoys realistic fiction may appreciate this book, there are problematic elements. The author’s note makes it clear that this is not #OwnVoices, and the text is based on Gennari’s conversations with practitioners and online research. Amelia’s disability is not named, and the word “disability” is never used. When a woman accosts Amelia on the train and says that she should get treatment for her “autism,” Amelia’s mother angrily denies that she is autistic, even though her noise sensitivity and love of numbers and trains implies that she could be. Her school’s encouragement of ditching the noise-cancelling headphones, and requirement of taking a music class, also serves to dismiss Amelia’s condition and deny her necessary accommodations. Amelia’s noise sensitivity is also equated with new friend Madge’s loudness as a “difference” that each accommodates. The only reference to a character’s identity is a German-speaking grandmother, “Oma.”
VERDICT A generic and overly euphemistic handling of a character with noise sensitivity; not recommended. Some strong #OwnVoices alternatives include Sarah Kapit’s Get a Grip, Vivy Cohen! and Christina Collins’s After Zero.

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