Click here to see all of the current Amazing Audiobooks nominees along with more information about the list and past years’ selections.
Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo; narrated by Elizabeth Acevedo and Melania-Luisa Marte
Quill Tree Books
Publication Date: May 5, 2020
Told in two voices, chess champion Yahaira Rios lives in New York City next door to her girlfriend, and Camino Rios lives in the Dominican Republic with her Aunt. Yahaira was upset with her father when he left for his annual summer trip to the D.R., so when his plane crashes, her feelings are more than complicated. Also on the plane was Camino’s father, whom she only gets to see once a year. Though the two girls never met or even knew about each other before the crash, they come to find out that they have a lot in common.
Marte’s narration is a perfect match for the D.R. setting and Camino’s vulnerable and longing existence as she dreams of being a doctor, and moving to the U.S. Acevedo’s personal narration of Yahaira captures the city’s staccato vibe, and both center the teen voice of two girls dealing with grief while trying to understand an imperfect father.
For more books dealing with grief, listeners will appreciate Jason Reynolds’ The Boy in the Black Suit, Walter Dean Myers’ The Autobiography of My Dead Brother, and Marcus Zusack’s Bridge of Clay. For more books with Carribean roots try Learning to Breathe by Janice Lynn Mather, Shadowshaper by Daniel José Older or The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon.
Black Flamingo by Dean Atta; narrated by Dean Atta
Balzer + Bray/ HarperCollins
Publication Date: November 26, 2020
Growing up in London, Michael always felt “other”. He was too Greek to be Black yet at the same time, too Black to be Greek. Add on top of that having to deal with his burgeoning sexuality and he never quite found a place he felt he belonged. His family and best friend understand and accept him, but the world as a whole doesn’t have a neat little box in which they can store him away. Not until Michael goes to university and discovers Drag Club does he really start to understand his otherness is something to be embraced and celebrated, rather than something of which he should be ashamed.
Narrating his own work, Atta expertly uses his skills as a spoken word performer to bring his novel in verse to life. His gentle tones and accent make the listener feel as though they are having a conversation with Michael.
This would be a great companion to George M. Johnson’s All Boys Aren’t Blue as well as the movie Moonlight. Fans of novel in verse and coming of age stories such as Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender, Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo and You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson will also enjoy this story.
Mad, Bad, and Dangerous to Know by Samira Ahmed; narrated by Soneela Nankani and Leila Buck
Publication Date: April 7, 2020
Khayyam, a first generation American teen, is reeling from a “sort-of” break up and a humiliating rejection letter from her dream college debunking her essay where she theorizes there is an undiscovered Eugène Delacroix painting of Leila, a nineteenth-century Muslim woman. While Khayyam is with her French and Muslim Indian university professor parents on their annual summer trip to Paris, she meets Alexandre, a descendent of Alexandre Dumas, and together they unravel an art and literature mystery that just might redeem her essay.
Told in two voices between Khayyam and the historic and mystifying Leila, both narrators immerse the listener into present and past Paris. Though the plot is at times minorly contrived and predictable, the narrations sweep the listener along to a summer of fun, sleuthing, and potential romance in the city of love.
Those wanting the travel experience will also enjoy S.K. Ali’s Love From A to Z, Maureen Johnson’s 13 Little Blue Envelopes, and Gayle Forman’s Just One Day. For more France and history, listeners can try Jennifer Donnely’s Revolution or the movies Marie Antoinette and Chocolat.