Amazing Audiobooks (#AA2021) Nominees Round Up, November 4 Edition

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

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Where We Go From Here by Lucas Rocha; narrated by Christian Barillas, Anthony Lee Medina and Luis Selgas
Scholastic Audio
Publication date: June 2, 2020
ISBN: 9781338637601

Victor and Ian met in a clinic, both waiting for HIV test results.  Victor is getting tested after having sex  with t his boyfriend Henrique, to then find out  is HIV+. Victor tests negative.  On the other hand, Ian tests positive.  Victor, while currently upset with what he considers his boyfriend’s dishonesty, offers to connect Ian with Henrique so he can help him learn how to live with HIV.  Their three lives then intertwine with their different circumstances.

Set in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, the boys different stories touch many aspects of gay life and living with HIV.  The three boys are all colorful, authentic characters. The story includes quirky turns that drive the story along.  Originally published in 2018 in Portuguese, this English translation makes this important book more widely accessible. The audiobook uses three narrators, one for each boy which really adds to the listening experience.

Readers of Adam Silvera and Bill Konigsberg will love this for the story and characters. The book also gives good background information on HIV and how it affects lives without the didactic quality of Full Disclosure.

-Cathy Outten

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We Are Not From Here by Jenny Torres Sanchez Narrated by Marisa Black
Dreamscape/Penguin Random House
Publication Date: May 19th, 2020
ISBN: 9781690595519

Pulga, Chico and Pequeña each have their own reasons for trying to leave Guatemala. They know the journey is long, perilous, and destined to fail. But when the dangers become too great, they finally make the decision to leave their lives and families behind for a chance to travel to America. The teens travel on foot, then through Mexico while riding on top of La Bestia, a terrifying train they hope will bring them closer to their destination. Can these three friends live to see tomorrow? And will they ever see America?

Jenny Torres Sanchez’s novel is an unflinching look at the journey of people desperate for a chance at a safer life. The descriptions read by Black are a raw, visceral experience for the reader. Depictions of childbirth, death and grief are not hinted at, and instead draw the listener deeper into the story in their totality. 

A solid readalike for the Disappeared series by Francisco X. Stork and The Devil’s Highway by Alberto Urrea. Addresses immigrant detention centers similar to portrayals in TV series like Orange is the New Black.

–Natalie LaRocque

Grown by Tiffany D. Jackson; narrated by Joniece Abbott-Pratt
Katherine Tegen Books
Release date: September 15, 2020
ISBN: 9780063033665

Enchanted Jones’ life is catapulted into stardom when she is noticed at an audition by Korey Fields, hip hop super star. Hardly able to believe her luck, that this man is willing to help her singing career, as well as being interested in her, she steps closer and closer to him. Almost without her noticing, he has not only taken control of her career, but also her life.

Told in flashbacks between the occasional glimpse into the present horrific end of the story, Enchanted’s experience with grooming and predatory behavior of someone older and with more power rings too true today. This super intense story includes a content warning at the beginning for sexual abuse, rape, assault, child abuse, kidnapping and drug abuse. With excellent storytelling and well laid out suspense Grown sheds light on exactly how girls can be groomed and manipulated, erasing all doubt and victim blaming. It also includes resources for victims at the end. The narration was excellent, keeping up the swiftly moving plot and character voices that will keep teens riveted.

Grown will appeal to anyone looking for contemporary suspense. Those who enjoyed Jackson’s other books will find a similar intensity here. Anyone seeking understanding about how victim blaming is so wrong and hurtful would do well to read Grown.

-Cathy Outten

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Spirit Run: A 6,000 Mile Marathon Through North American’s Stolen Land by Noé Álvarez; Narrated by Ramon De Ocampo
Highbridge, a division of Recorded Books
Publication Date: March 3, 2020
ISBN: 9781948226462

Noe writes about his four-month long run from Canada to Guatemala with the movement called Peace and Dignity Journeys. The run is chronicled through Noe’s personal experiences running the marathon, stories about his childhood in Yakima, and shared stories about the other runners he meets. Noe also uses the run as a way to talk about Indigenous issues, immigrant rights, working class struggles and deforestation.

This powerful memoir is emotionally narrated and pulls the listener in, especially when describing the harrowing aspects of the race such as injuries, encounters with wild animals and extreme weather. 

Those looking for other stories of bravery or surviving the wild should check out No Summit out of Sight by Jordan Romero and A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park.

Books with themes of immigrant and Indigenous experiences include #NotYourPrincess: Voices of Native American Women and The Distance Between Us: A Memoir by Reyna Grande.

–Rachel Adams