Amazing Audiobooks (#AA2021) Nominees Round Up, August 19 Edition

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

All Boys Aren't Blue cover art

All Boys Aren’t Blue by George M. Johnson; narrated by George M. Johnson
Macmillan Audio
Publication Date: April 28, 2020
ISBN: 978-1250247896 

Told in three acts, this memoir/manifesto shares the intimate stories of journalist and LGBTQIA+ activist navigating the intersectionality of being Black and queer in the late 1990s and early 2000s. It explores the White supremacy, toxic masculinity, and homophobia that permeated his everyday life. It moves from stories of his childhood, teenage years, and growing up in New Jersey and Virginia to his early adulthood living closeted at his HBCU. 

This book is elevated by Johnson’s narration as his listeners get to hear the voice behind the writing. Vulnerable, and sometimes incredibly raw, his reading creates a personal experience that listeners are privileged to have shared with them, and some will desperately need to hear. 

This is a great companion to Dean Atta’s memoir The Black Flamingo, and to the Oscar winning movie Moonlight. This will resonate with listeners that appreciated the exploration of queer identity in Julian Winters’ How to Be Remy Cameron and the classic by Benjamin Alire Saenz Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

–Danielle Jones

Genesis Begins Again cover art

Genesis Begins Again by Alicia D. Williams; narrated by Alicia D. Williams
Simon & Schuster Audio
Publication Date: April 14, 2020
ISBN: 978-1508298076  

Genesis, a thirteen-year-old Black girl, has constantly had to move, mainly because her alcoholic father keeps getting the family evicted. Dark skinned like her father, Genesis has embodied the colorism that has been passed down from both her father and grandmother, and keeps trying treatments to lighten her skin. A gifted singer, Genesis finds outlets at her new school that help build her self-esteem, new friends that support her, and places where she can shine. 

Williams’ voice driven novel is powerfully enhanced by the author’s narration. Genesis is so fully realized that listeners feel she is right there with them, getting a vulnerable and personal look into her life and mind. Tender, yet heart-breaking, Williams masterfully brings this amazing character to the listener.

Listeners that want more books that explore self-esteem will also enjoy Sonia Patel’s Rani Patel in Full Effect and Julie Murphy’s Dumpling. Other powerfully voiced books like Angie Thomas’s The Hate U Give, Nicola Yoon’s The Sun is Also a Star and Jandy Nelson’s The Sky is Everywhere will also appeal. Listeners that want more on colorism can try Jewell Parker Rhodes’ Black Brother, Black Brother, Trevor Noah’s Born a Crime, Natasha Diaz’s Color Me In and Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi. 

–Danielle Jones

Stay Gold cover art

Stay Gold by Tobly McSmith; Narrated by Theo Germaine and Phoebe Strole
Publication Date: May 26, 2020
ISBN: 978-1094159980

It happens in an instant. On his first day at a new school, Pony catches eyes with Georgia, the popular cheerleader, and there is a connection. Chemistry is not just one of the many classes that they end up having together. Georgia is trying to forget a bad relationship, but isn’t ready for something new, and Pony is transgender living in stealth after the transphobia he experienced at his last school. Both characters are smart, witty, and charismatic, and discovering the possibilities of who they can be. Set in Texas, all main characters are white. 

With parallels to S.E. Hinton’s The Outsiders and flirty rom-com beats, this manages levity while still confronting issues of transphobia and suicidal ideation. Narrators were thoughtfully chosen for this OwnVoice book and nonbinary actor Germaine (The Politician) and Strole both capture the book’s strong characterization and witty dialogue while moving seamlessly through the changing point of views. 

Listeners that swooned with Jenny Han’s To All the Boys I’ve Ever Loved Before, Sandhya Menon’s When Dimple Met Rishi, and Hulu’s television series Love, Victor will enjoy the romantic elements here. Those wanting more trans male perspectives should seek out Anna-Marie McLemore’s When the Moon was Ours, Alex Bertie’s memoir Trans Mission: My Quest to Grow a Beard, and Aiden Thomas’ upcoming Cemetery Boys (Sept. 2020). 

–Danielle Jones