Click here to see all of the current Amazing Audiobooks nominees along with more information about the list and past years’ selections.
Lobizona: The Wolves of No World, Book 1 by Romina Garber; narrated by Sol Madariaga
Wednesday Books / Macmillan
Publication Date: August 4, 2020
Manuela Azul and her mother have lived most of Manu’s life in fear of discovery because of their undocumented status; when she was small Manu and her mother fled their native Argentina in the hopes of staying hidden from her father’s family. Manu’s entire life changes in an instant when her mother is caught and detained by ICE and she is forced to go on the run. When she stumbles her way into a Harry Potter-esque school of lobizones and brujas (werewolves and witches) she thinks she has finally found a place for her to belong, but even there, danger awaits her at every turn when she discovers she is “illegal” both in the human world and the magical one.
Madariaga narrates this Own Voices novel with a beautiful Argentinian accent. The theme of fear of persecution for being different and undocumented, and not belonging, is a timely one that will be intensely relatable for many listeners.
This first book in a new series will be an easy sell to those who like a fantasy novel with excellent world building, like Harry Potter, Zoraida Cordova’s Brooklyn Brujas series or Sabaa Tahir’s Ember in the Ashes series. For those who are interested in the lives and rights of undocumented immigrants this is a good companion to We Are Not From Here by Jenny Tores Sanchez, The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon and The Other Side by Juan Pablo Villalobos.
Beyond the Gender Binary by Alok Vaid-Menso; narrated by Alok Vaid-Menso
Penguin Random House Audio Publishing Group
Release Date: June 2, 2020
Author, Alok Vaid-Menson provides listeners with responses to questions that many are uncomfortable with answering even in 2020. What does it mean to be authentically you without the harsh criticism of society? What if you did not have to conform to a societal norm? Such questions are hard to grapple for those who are hiding their true beings, but Alok Vaid-Menson reminds us that it is perfectly fine to walk outside your house with loud colors if they capture the very essence of who you are.
This piece teaches us the history of binary humans and the terminology that many have never heard of before. It provides us with candid examples and statistics needed to understand the challenges associated with the quote, “I do not have the luxury of being, I am only seen as doing.” From sharing the horrible stories of fear to always having to explain just who you are, the author takes us on a concise journey to explain anything you might have questioned about gender binary.
Alok’s lived experiences make this piece worth listening to. Thought-provoking questions arise as one contemplates responses to difficult, but much needed conversations. If you like Bravo’s television series Queer Eye for the Straight Guy or Being Jazz: My Life as a (Transgender) Teen by Jazz Jennings, you would appreciate this piece. While society still hesitates on accepting those that are “different,” you are reminded that there is nothing wrong with people who are true to themselves.
-Kiera O. Vargas
The Paper Girl of Paris by Jordyn Taylor; narrated by Liza Seneca and Reba Burr
Publication Date: May 20, 2020
After sixteen-year-old Alice inherits a Parisian apartment from her recently deceased grandmother, she is determined to find out why. Why her grandmother never mentioned the apartment, why she never talked about her sister, why her family never returned to France after fleeing the Nazis, why her parents are so uncomfortable discussing her mother’s mental illness. Alternating chapters tell the story of Adalyn, Alice’s great aunt and her work as a member of the underground resistance.
Voicing Adalyn in a lyrical French accent, Seneca immerses the listener in Nazi-occupied France. Meanwhile, Buhr works to connect the listener with Alice using a youthful tone through a budding new romance and the heartbreak and worry of her mother’s mental illness. This novel would be ideal for listeners who prefer contemporary tales but need to connect with more historical fiction.
Those listeners who wish to immerse themselves in French culture and history will also enjoy Mad, Bad and Dangerous to Know by Samira Ahmed and The Nightingale by Kristen Hannah as well as French movies like Chocolat, Amelie and The Artist. Those who are interested in a non-linear form of storytelling can also look to We Used to Be Friends by Amy Spalding, All Your Twisted Secrets by Diana Urban and Jane Anonymous by Laurie Faria Stolarz.