Middle Grade book review

Tune it Out by Jamie Sumner

Publication Date: September 1, 2020

Summary from NetGalley:

From the author of the acclaimed Roll with It comes a moving novel about a girl with a sensory processing disorder who has to find her own voice after her whole world turns upside down.

Lou Montgomery has the voice of an angel, or so her mother tells her and anyone else who will listen. But Lou can only hear the fear in her own voice. She’s never liked crowds or loud noises or even high fives; in fact, she’s terrified of them, which makes her pretty sure there’s something wrong with her.

When Lou crashes their pickup on a dark and snowy road, child services separate the mother-daughter duo. Now she has to start all over again at a fancy private school far away from anything she’s ever known. With help from an outgoing new friend, her aunt and uncle, and the school counselor, she begins to see things differently. A sensory processing disorder isn’t something to be ashamed of, and music might just be the thing that saves Lou—and maybe her mom, too.

ARC provided by Atheneum Books for Young Readers via NetGalley for an honest review.

Confession:

This is only the second book by this author that I have read, but she is quickly becoming a favorite. She tackles some difficult topics and uses humor and likable characters to make these topics accessible to the middle grade audience.

Lou is immediately likable, even with her difficult living situation, difficult mother and her not understanding her sensory processing issues. Her mother keeps wanting her to sing in front of crowds, which is difficult for some one like her. Her mother is totally in denial that Lou has anything wrong with her, and just thinks when she makes it everything will be fine. But it won’t and it takes Lou being sent away from her mother for both of them to realize that.

I really appreciated how supportive her aunt and uncle were, when Lou arrives to live with them. They never push her, but yet are there to help her when she needs it. The warmth and love they feel for her is genuine as is their ability to let her work out her issues on her own, but with gentle help from them.

I really liked the new friends that Lou makes at her new school, especially Well. He is a great character and even though he finds Lou’s quirks a little bit weird, he has enough quirks of his own that he can give her the space she needs. It was wonderful to see their friendship develop over the course of the book.

Lou’s sensory processing disorder was handled really well and felt authentic to me. I have worked with many kids with this issue and could tell that the author did her research on the topic. It is an invisible disability and one that many misjudge, so it was nice to see a well developed character in a book with this issue. I think it will help both the kids with this issue and especially the ones with out understand it better.

I am really looking forward to the next book by this author. She takes some tough disabilities and makes them real for the reader. You should also take a look at her first book Roll With It, about a young girl with cerebral palsy who loves to bake. It was excellent as well. Both of these books are ones I highly recommend.

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