The Sweetest Sound
Cadence is about to turn eleven, she's painfully shy, and she is tired of some of the things in her life. She doesn't want to be called Mouse anymore, but she isn't sure how to tell her father. And she doesn't want to have a community birthday party at a diner that has become a town tradition, because she's tired of everyone feeling sorry for her because her mother left. Cadence and her father always have one eye on the door, wondering if her mother will walk through it. More than anything, she wants to join the select choir with her friends at church, and she's almost old enough to audition. When she submits a secret recording of herself singing, she thinks it's going to the choir director, but instead, it goes viral. Her friend Faith offers to take the credit for her singing success. Cadence isn't sure she's ready to use her own voice.
This is a good story for middle grade readers. The complexity of the way Cadence feels about her mother (missing her, wondering about what's real and what isn't, feeling frustrated that she left, wondering if she wasn't enough to keep her mother around) and about her father (grateful for his unconditional love, irritated that he doesn't "get" her and not sure how to communicate with him now that she's getting older) are both realistically crafted.
The secret is a little unrealistic - it's hard to believe so many people in Cadence's life haven't been aware of her fantastic singing from a young age - but it makes a fun aspirational element that she is so talented and nobody realizes it. The book probably has too many characters to keep track of for the needs of the plot, but the sense of community is strong, and the writing about singing is authentic enough to make you want to put on a good show for your mirror.
"I'd thought getting the fancy instrument would be the blessing I needed, not ever considering that He had already blessed me with a voice and passion and spirit. Funny how I'd never really thought about what I had as a gift until Faith wanted me to hand it over to her."
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