Click here to see all of the current Amazing Audiobooks nominees along with more information about the list and past years’ selections.
The Year We Fell From Space by Amy Sarig King; Narrated by Stephanie Willing
Scholastic Audio / Scholastic
Publication Date: October 1, 2019
Liberty Johansen loves making her own constellations. After her parents announce that they will be separating and getting a divorce, Liberty asks the stars to fix her family, which is when a meteorite falls from the sky, almost into her lap. Following her parents announcement Liberty learns about her father’s depression, and starts having feelings of her own of depression and anxiety. While trying to reconcile her mother’s sense of calm after the breakup, her little sister’s refusal to leave the house, and the sudden absence of her father in her life, the meteorite begins to communicate with her.
Younger teens will resonate with Stephanie Willing’s narration as she beautifully captures the vulnerability of this first person narrative. Willing is a perfect match to King’s heart-rendering and efficient prose capturing all the feelings of grief, longing, and loss from divorce, and she holds the listener without minimizing Liberty’s reality of depression, anxiety, and fear of separation.
Teens that have liked other emotionally complex audiobooks such as Kwame Alexander’s The Crossover, Kate DiCamillo’s Beverly, Right Here, Jason Reynolds’ Ghost, and Maulik Pancholy’s The Best at It will find similar feelings here. Also, those that resonated with the realism of vulnerability in movies like Eighth Grade and Lady Bird will appreciate King’s hopeful, yet honest, portrayal.
Not So Pure and Simple by Lamar Giles; Narrated by Korey Jackson
Publication Date: January 21, 2020
Del Rainey, along with his best friend Qwan, are known for their sexual conquests, even though Del is really still a virgin. Trying to get closer to his crush, the untouchable Kiera, he starts attending his mother’s church. Before he has even realized what he has done, he has joined the First Missionary House of the Lord youth group, and signed a purity pledge saying that he will wait until after marriage to have sex. The church’s youth group is a response to nine teen pregnancies at Del’s school, and is at odds with the health class information, the school’s own response. A pregnancy pact conspiracy theory arises about the teen moms, now known as the “Baby-Getters,” but when one calls out her child’s father on social media, demanding accountability for the fathers, it shines a light on the multifaceted web of misogyny at play.
Through humor, sensitivity, nuance and craft, Giles explores male toxic behaviors and its many layers. Teen listeners will appreciate how Korey Jackson’s narration captures Giles’ crisp dialogue, and authentically capturing teens’ voices. Jackson is a perfect match for the humor that dominates, and the first-person narrative bringing the character of Del alive.
This is a great companion listen to other titles that explore the pitfalls of misogyny such as Brendan Kiely’s Tradition, Deb Caletti’s A Heart in the Body in the World, and Whitney Gardner’s Chaotic Good. Teens that enjoy humor based on observation in listens like Ben Phillippe’s The Field Guide to the North American Teenager or movies like Juno, will enjoy Giles’ very funny writing.