Click here to see all of the current Amazing Audiobooks nominees along with more information about the list and past years’ selections.
Survival Math: Notes on an All-American Family by Mitchell S. Jackson; Narrated by Mitchell S. Jackson
Simon & Schuster Audio
Publication Date: March 5, 2019
Mitchell S. Jackson begins his own story by tracing his family’s mid-century migration from Montgomery, Alabama, to Portland, Oregon. Caught up in the petty crime and hustle of his community, young Mitchell was incarcerated for drug activity before clawing his way to graduate school New York, and, eventually, the academy. Jackson’s expansive memoir is a tour-de-force of candor and penitence.
Mitchell’s candid and compelling narration captures the poetic writing and unflinching account of his memoir of youth and the experience of being a Black male in the U.S. Beginning with the gentrification of Portland, plumbing the depths of his own family’s history of criminal behavior and substance addiction, and not shying from his own problematic past behavior, Jackson uses his experiences to highlight systematic racism and sexism and suggests that remedy, if not antidote, is possible. He wields literary allusion in a way that is poignant, deft and accessible
Mitchell’s book is ideal for readers who have devoured Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates, The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin, Sing, Unburied, Sing, and Men We Reaped by Jesmyn Ward. This volume deserves shelf space beside Got the Whole World Watching: A Young Black Man’s Education by Mychal Denzel Smith, The Best We Could Do by Thi Bui and In the Country We Love: My Family Divided by Diane Guerrero, as well as the movie Moonlight, and television shows Atlanta and Queen Sugar.
–Wendy Stephens and Danielle Jones
Heroine by Mindy McGinnis; narrated by Brittany Pressley
HarperCollins B and Blackstone Audio
Publication Date: March 12, 2019
Heroine, by Mindy McGinnis, revolves around Mickey Catalan, a senior softball star who, after a car accident, is given oxycontin for the excruciating pain in her leg. When the prescription runs out, Mickey must find new ways to keep pushing through her suffering in order to keep her spot as a catcher and thereby allow her best friend to maintain her pitching scholarship and her mom to retain a bit of happiness post-divorce.
Narrator Brittany Pressley delivers this book with the strength of a no-excuses athlete who slowly starts to rationalize her descent into drug dependency. Her performance is layered and listeners hear how Mickey unravels slowly as anxiety and desperation creep into her once stolid persona.
The book is terrifyingly realistic and Pressley’s delivery is spot-on; she is the epitome of an athlete whose justifies her increasingly dangerous choices in the face of internal and external pressures as well as the sinister pull of her addiction. This one is not to be missed. For similar reads, see Crank by Ellen Hopkins, Dope Stick by Walter Dean Myers, and Finding Home by Lauren McKellar.