Rhythm & Muse by India Hill Brown is a sweet YA romance about a boy looking to find his voice both romantically and artistically. Darren is a soft-spoken high school student with an interest in music and in Dillie, a new girl who has a successful podcast. Unfortunately, Darren can’t find it within himself to either ask her out or to pursue his singing. He’s a little shy and he took a bad moment on stage as an excuse to avoid more rejection. However, when Dillie has a call-out for a theme song for her podcast, Darren creates a hit. She’s enamored with the mystery singer’s voice, but she still doesn’t know it’s Darren! Will he let someone else take credit for his work? Will he finally share his gift with her and the world?
The best part about Rhythm & Muse is how sweet the main characters are. Dillie is spunky and warm. One of my favorite scenes is when she and Darren go to a coffee shop, and she opens up about why she started the podcast and how she likes to talk and connect with people. She’s someone you’d want to be friends with. Darren is also likeable. He’s got a great relationship with his family and his hesitation with girls and with singing is relatable. However, the song that gets Dillie’s attention somewhat falls in his lap and his friends are the ones who publish it. Without them, I’m not sure that Darren would have made much progress on either goal. That said, I was still rooting for him.
In the author’s note, Ms. Hill Brown said that she didn’t see many teenage, Black male protagonists get their happily-ever-after on the page. Having a special interest in YA romance, I’d have to say that’s unfortunately true. It was great to see more representation in the genre. It’s also nice to see teens come of age, follow their dreams, and find love without any other burdens or politics weighing on them. Rhythm & Muse is a joy that younger teens or people looking for a quick, uplifting story will connect to.
About the author: India Hill Brown is the author of the NAACP Image Award Nominated middle grade novel The Forgotten Girl, and The Girl in the Lake. She graduated from Claflin University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Mass Communications and a Concentration in Print Journalism. She lives in Elgin, SC, with her husband and two sons. Rhythm & Muse is her first young adult novel. Visit India online at indiahillbrown.com.