Amazing Audiobooks (#AA2021) Nominees Round Up, August 12 Edition

Click here to see all of the current Amazing Audiobooks nominees along with more information about the list and past years’ selections.

When Stars are Scattered cover art

When Stars Are Scattered by Victoria Jamieson and Omar Mohamed; narrated by a full cast
Listening Library
Release date: April 14, 2020
ISBN: 978-0593162576

Brothers Omar and Hassan escaped war in Somalia where their  father was killed. As very young boys they arrived at Dadaab, a refugee camp in Kenya. Their mother is missing, and Hassan is not well.  At the camp, food and medical care is scarce, and hope is hard to come by.  Omar and Hassan manage to get along with help from others.  Omar is given a chance at an education, which, while reluctant to take (as it will separate him from his brother regularly) he decides to go to school.

Audiobooks made from graphic novels are an intriguing concept that can be done exceptionally well, and this does not disappoint.  An extremely moving true story (it is autobiographical for Omar) of refugees from Somalia, the story is brought to life with sounds and music, in the way that pictures do in the graphic novel.  A full cast does a great job with the voices, including a colorful group of accents representing the many different people living in the refugee camp.

Similar to Illegal by Eoin Colfer, those looking for first person accounts of refugees will find that here. Readers who enjoyed other stories of refugees like The Complete Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi, Refugee by Alan Gratz, and We Are Displaced by Malala Yousafzai will find this audio just as moving.

-Cathy Outten

Throw Like a Girl cover art

Throw Like A Girl by Sarah Henning; narrated by Devon Hales
Little, Brown Young Readers
Release date: 01-07-20
ISBN: 978-0316529501

Transferring to the public high school her senior year was not in Liv’s plans, but after throwing a punch at the opposing first basewoman over an insult to her sister, she was kicked off the team, and out of school.  At her new school she is hoping desperately for a spot on her new school’s softball team, but her reputation precedes her and she will have to prove her team player worthiness to get the position.  Along comes Grey, the injured quarterback, who needs Liv’s pitching arm to fill in for him temporarily.  He promises to get her a spot on the softball team if she joins football.  

This is a great high school romance.  Pleasantly surprising in that there aren’t any overtly mean characters, just people making mistakes and usually owning up to them. While the “girl on a football team” has been done before, here she is the quarterback, an unusual place of power on the team. Liv is bold and tenacious in her desire to get what she wants and is willing to be sacked a few times to prove it.  The narrator voices the characters expertly including following text clues. 

Henning’s debut novel is an exhilarating romance that defies predictable tropes. Throw Like a Girl is a fun, unexpectedly enjoyable new addition to the YA romance catalog. Perfect for readers of contemporary romance authors like Sarah Dessen and Jenny Han, and for those who like romances with sporty heroines like On the Fence by Kacie West or Girl at Heart by Kelly Oram. 

-Cathy Outten

Suggested Reading cover art

Suggested Reading by Dave Connis; narrated by Kyla Garcia
Release date: 09-17-19
ISBN: 978-0062685254

At the dawn of her senior year of high school, Clara discovers that the administration has put together a list of “prohibited media.” Clara knows it just means banned books and she finds many of her favorites on there.  As an assistant in the school library, she is in a position to save the books. She opens an underground library with all of the titles she has loved since she can’t believe they have been deemed unsafe for her friends.  But when it appears one of the book’s words have played a part in a tragic event, she begins to doubt the safety of reading, and she wonders if the school administrators might be right.

Suggested Reading is sweet and fun, with a real exploration of complex reasoning about the power of books and the ways reading can change a person. The narration by Garcia is perfect with a slight southern twang that colors the Tennessee setting.

Suggested Reading is perfect for fans of contemporary stand-alones with strong girls taking charge like Moxie.   It will be especially enjoyable for lovers of YA who will find nods to many of the most well-loved titles of the genre including Speak, Catcher in the Rye, and The Chocolate War.

— Cathy Outten