Book Review: Tone Deaf by Olivia Rivers

Ali, a former child prodigy at piano, has been deaf, using ASL and lip reading to get by, for seven years. But when her best friend drags her to a concert for a band whose music Ali has never even heard, she ends up winning the raffle to go backstage and meet the leader singer, Jace. Their first meeting doesn't go well, but, when he asks her to come back the next day and then notices her bruises, he knows she's being abused and offers her a chance to escape by joining the band on tour until she turns 18 in a few months. Ali accepts and rediscovers her love for music as she attempts to start her new life.

Book Review: Tone Deaf by Olivia Rivers | books, reading, book covers, book reviews, romance, contemporary romance, young adult, deafness
Title: Tone Deaf
Pages: 288
My Rating: 3 Stars
More Info: Goodreads, Amazon


*I received a free ecopy of this book via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.*

I’m not really sure how to rate or review this book because it was so very not the type of book I normally read. (Something to keep in mind while reading my review.) I rarely step outside the SFF genre nowadays, I really don’t read YA contemporary, and I even more really don’t read rockstar romance.

But I wanted to read this because it’s one of the few books I’ve found that has a deaf protagonist.

And, despite it being out of my norm, I enjoyed it and thought it was pretty good for the genre that it is.

The deafness seemed to be handled well (aside from the fact that it’s probably a lot harder to lip read in real life), and I loved getting to see things through Ali’s perspective because it allowed me to realize some of the things I take for granted as a hearing person. (And the author includes resources in the back for anyone who wants to learn more.)

The topic of abusive parents also seemed to be handled well and realistically enough. It was mostly kept to the backstory, so it shouldn’t be too much of a problem for anyone who feels uncomfortable reading about abuse happening on screen, but, because it was still the focus (characters trying to escape and overcome their past abuse), the book did end up being pretty heavy. I thought that was a good thing because abuse is a heavy topic, but I wanted to include a warning for anyone who doesn’t like that.

As for the characters, Jace seemed a little unrealistic with his extreme behaviors and emotions, but Ali was a great character, and I liked that she had such eclectic interests instead of just being a stereotype. I also felt for her and the situation she was in.

So overall, the premise and the romance weren’t the most realistic, but it was a fairly quick read that handled heavy topics well without being graphic or going overboard.


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  1. Geraldine @ Corralling Books

    Sounds like the perfect book for me! 😀 I’m a huge contemporary reader, and the deafness aspect really appeals to me – I don’t think we get many characters who are deaf in YA!
    Thanks so much for reviewing it Kristen!

    1. Kristen Burns

      Yay! I’m glad my review was able to help someone who is a contemporary fan 🙂 There just aren’t a lot of deaf characters period though. I’ve seen two other books with deaf protags, and those were both YA, so I think YA is doing better than adult lol.

  2. Angela @ Simply Angela

    This one does sound a bit different and I’m always looking for something different. I like that the protagonist is deaf–I’ve read a historical romance where the heroine was blind, but I’ve not read one where the heroine was deaf. My only struggle with this one, I think, would be where it’s a YA romance. I don’t read too many YA or NA books.

    1. Kristen Burns

      I’ve never read a book with a blind character, so we’re opposite on that. I do read YA as well as adult, though YA does sometimes get on my nerves, so I can understand why the YA part would bother you.

  3. AngelErin

    Great review! I’m not a big YA contemporary fan, but I do love books about music. It’s also rare to have a book about a dead character so that’s intriguing to me. I think I’ve only read one book like that.

    1. Kristen Burns

      I like listening to music (obviously you know this lol), but I don’t really care to read about it. But it was the deaf character part that I liked. Do you happened to remember what book it was that you read? I only know of a couple others.

      1. AngelErin

        It was Maybe Someday by Colleen Hoover. The male in that one is deaf. I keep thinking there is another one I’ve read with a main deaf character, but I can’t remember what it was! 😡 What others do you know of?

          1. Kristen Burns

            No worries, I deleted the extra 🙂 And awesome, I’m going to look that book up! The two that I know of are There Will Be Lies by Nick Lake and Talk Under Water by Kathryn Lomer, but I haven’t had the chance to read either one yet.

  4. Greg

    I don’t know if I’ve read anything with a deaf protagonist, I don’t think so. The premise is interesting- a deaf girl rediscovering music. I can see where he might be a little unrealistic, but Ali sounds like a good character. Her perspective does sound like it would be the best part. And it has a nice cover. 🙂

    1. Kristen Burns

      Yeah, they’re hard to find in books. Her perspective was the best part. Not that Jace was necessarily an unlikeable character, but his back and forth emotions were just too much for me. It is a nice cover 🙂

  5. Ashley G.

    Hm, this sounds really interesting. I’m not really into contemporary either, especially romantic contemporary. But when someone mentions music or musicians in a book, I always know I have to at least give it a try. Meaning that I’ve also put down some really cheesy music stories. . . But I keep trying to find a good one. XD So I might have to give this a try, plus a deaf protagonist always intrigues me. Awesome review!

    1. Kristen Burns

      You’ll have to let me know what you think if you try it! I get you though, contemporary romance in general seems to be too cheesy for me which is why I usually don’t read it. But this one does have music and deafness 🙂 Thanks!

  6. Lola

    While I like contemporary romances, I very rarely read YA contemporary romances, even though it was a YA contemporary romance that got me back into the genre. I can’t remember many rockstar romances I read, I don’t really think they are my thing usually.
    I do like the sound of this book though. It’s original to find a book with a deaf protagonist. I am glad to hear the deaf aspect was handled well. And it nice when you find a book that deals with some heavy topics without the book feeling too heavy. Greta review!

    btw did you change your blog design? It feels like it looks a bit differently, but can’t put my finger on what exactly changed.

    1. Kristen Burns

      Yeah, you really don’t find many deaf protagonists. It’d great there were more of this kind of diversity in SFF. But this was still good at least and focused more on the emotional effects than the actual abuse, which was nice.

      Wow, you must be really perceptive! I made the blog 200px wider, so everything is just a little bit bigger.

      1. Lola

        Yes that’s it! It’s wider! I thought it was only the comment area at first, but the whole blog felt a tad differently. I just couldn’t figure out what had changed! I do like the change 🙂