Click here to see all of the current Amazing Audiobooks nominees along with more information about the list and past years’ selections.
A Good Kind of Trouble by Lisa Moore Ramée; Narrated by Imani Parks
Balzer + Bray / HarperAudio
Publication Date: March 12, 2019
Shayla is “allergic” to trouble and wants to avoid it at all costs as she starts seventh grade with her two best friends from elementary school, Julia and Isabella. But in junior high, the rules have changed, her friendships are changing and some classmates don’t think Shayla is “black enough.” Shayla’s sister, Hana, is involved in Black Lives Matter, but Shayla decides to stick with the track team instead of joining that movement. But after experiencing a powerful protest with her family, Shayla decides that sometimes you can’t avoid trouble and choosing “trouble” may be the right choice after all.
Imani Parks does a great job capturing the confusion of middle school and adolescence. At times Parks’ Shayla still sounds like a young girl and at others she’s becoming a young adult. This title is definitely aimed at the younger end of Young Adult, but has many of the same themes as books for older readers.
For readers not quite ready for The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas or All American Boys by Jason Reynolds. Pair with Dear Martin by Nic Stone, Genesis Begins Again by Alicia D. Williams, Piecing Me Together by Renée Watson, Ghost Boys by Jason Reynolds, One Crazy Summer by Rita Garcia, and The Stars Beneath Our Feet by David Barclay Moore.
Dig by A.S. King; Narrated by the Author, with Mike Chamberlain, Tonya Cornelisse, and Kirby Heyborne
Listening Library / Penguin Random House Audio
Publication Date: March 26, 2019
Five white estranged cousins pick away at the thin veneer of their grandparents’ respectability, finding themselves while uncovering family secrets that have flourished while buried. The Shoveler, the Freak, CanIHelpYou?, Loretta the Flea-Circus Mistress, and First-Class Malcolm — all of them agonized in their respective dysfunctional households. Each teen is drawn to the others despite the distance, alienation, and lies that have long separated their parents. What stays hidden could break them, but this generation’s determination to claw themselves out from beneath a family’s suffocating history of bigotry and abuse instead brings the five teens together to share their burden of adolescence and inheritance.
Four distinctive narrators alternate chapters to weave together storylines that showcase A.S. King’s trademark surrealism and frank inclusion of resonant issues from white supremacy to female masturbation. Their raw and wry delivery suits the layered characters, while the intensifying plot lures in listeners with quirky delivery and character-driven complexity. The storylines wend intriguingly until they collide in meeting of the cousins at their grandparents’ house, uniting the narrators in a sardonic and grimly hopeful end to this high quality audio production.
A natural fit for the legions of devoted fans of King’s previous work, this story will resonate with readers who enjoy stylistically complex, multiple perspective storylines with a magical tinge, like Patrick Ness’s Release, Andrew Smith’s work, or Laura Ruby’s Thirteen Doorways and Wolves Behind them All. The parallels of children untangling the repercussions of their parents’ pasts call to mind Leah Thomas’s Wild & Crooked, and, on the small screen, tragic family sagas like Game of Thrones and Transparent.
Patron Saints of Nothing by Randy Ribay; Narrated by Ramón de Ocampo
Kokila / Listening Library
Publication Date: June 18, 2019
Jay Reguero is like most other American Seniors in high school, he plays video games, has a part-time job, and is going to college in the fall. However, everything changes when he finds out his cousin, in the Philippines, was murdered, but no one wants to talk about it. Jay takes things into his own hands and travels half-way around the world to figure out what happened and why no one wants to talk about it.
This powerful coming of age story is based in truths about the Philippines President and his dictatorship. President Duterte’s war on drugs perpetrated the killing of about 12,000-20,000 drug addicts being killed by police and vigilantes since 2016. The emotional range Jay goes through is beautifully expressed by Ramón de Ocampo. In the beginning when Jay is just chilling and playing video games de Ocampo expresses the dull, unimpressed Jay, and adjusts the tone and emotions as Jay finds out his cousin is dead, and later on as he finds out more about how he died, and his family’s history.
For other stories about teens traveling to countries of their heritage, be sure to check out Darius the Great is Not Okay by Adib Khorram and Dear Haiti, Love Alaine by Maika Moulite. If you’re looking for other authentic, diverse, and realistic stories you might like The Inexplicable Logic of My Life by Benjamin Alire Saenz, The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon, and I am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L. Sanchez.