Amazing Audiobooks (#AA2022) Nominations Round-Up, Spring

Each quarter, the Selected Lists teams compile the titles that have been officially nominated to date. These books have been suggested by the team or through the title suggestion form, read by multiple members of the team, and received approval to be designated an official nomination. At the end of the year, the final list of nominations and each Selected List’s Top Ten will be chosen from these titles.

*Prices shown are for Library Digital Download.

Admission. By Julie Buxbaum. Read by Julia Whelan. 2020. Penguin Random House Audio Publishing Group/Listening Library, $63 (9780593216996).

Chloe, privileged daughter of a beloved celebrity, watches helplessly as her mother is caught up in a college admission scandal benefiting her. Julia Whelan skillfully unpacks the emotions that go with Chloe’s questioning whether her parents believe she is enough. 

Amari and the Night Brothers. By B. B. Alston. Read by Imani Parks. Harper Collins/Balzer + Bray, $64.99 (9780063057968).

Amari believes her missing brother is alive. When a mysterious suitcase appears in her closest, she is whisked away to a land of magic. To find her brother, Amari must pass a series of tests in order to enter the Bureau of Supernatural Affairs. Strong narration supports this fantastical adventure.

Apple: Skin to the Core. By Eric Gansworth. Read by Eric Gansworth. 2020. Dreamscape Media LLC,  $64.99 (9781662039706).

Eric Gansworth’s memoir of growing up Native covers his history from government boarding schools where his grandparents were educated, through growing up and getting himself off the reservation and out of his family home. This audiobook, narrated by Gansworth himself, speaks from his true heart to the listener.

The Awakening of Malcolm X. By Ilyasah Shabazz and Tiffany D. Jackson. Read by Landon Woodson. Macmillan Audio/Macmillan Young Listeners, $44.99 (9781250619105).

A narrative account of Malcom X’s younger years in prison as he grapples with racism, injustice, the prison system, finding his Muslim faith and ultimately discovering his true power as an activist. The strong narration distinguishes the various characters and depicts the emotions of a young Malcolm X.

Beautiful Wild. By Anna Godbersen. Read by Amy McFadden. 2020. HarperCollins Publishers Inc./HarperTeen, $59.98 (9780063012844).

Vida Hazzard chooses to sail on The Princess instead of accepting a proposal after a scandal. Things go awry after the boat shipwrecks on a deserted island and Vida is drawn into a love triangle.  McFadden uses a high society accent to help place the reader in the time period.

Black Canary: Breaking Silence. By Alexandra Monir. Read by Kathleen McInerney. 2020. Penguin Random House Audio Publishing Group/Books on Tape. $63 (9780593216934).

Growing up under vicious patriarchal rule in Gotham City, Dinah is in a world where women literally have lost their singing voices. After discovering her mother was a superhero, she must use her new found voice to take back her city. McInerney’s narration brings this origin story off the page elegantly.

Chlorine Sky. By Mahogany L. Browne. Read by Mahogany L. Browne. Penguin Random House Audio Group/Listening Library. $28 (9780593343784).

This novel-in-verse read by the author is an emotional and honest story of broken promises and friendships. In what feels like a stream of consciousness from a teenage girl, the reader travels through heartache and upheaval to realization and actualization. Mahogany L. Browne’s narration highlights her deft work as a poet. 

Class Act. By Jerry Craft. Read by Nile Bullock, Jesus Del Orden, Guy Lockard, Marc Thompson, Peyton Lusk, Rebecca Soler, Dan Bittner, January LaVoy, Phoebe Strole, Jordan Cobb, A.J. Beckles, Robin Miles, Ron Butler, Miles Harvey, Kim Mai Guest, Kyla Garcia & Soneela Nankani. HarperCollins Publishers Inc./Quill Tree Books. $34.98 (9780063032057).

Three friends in middle school must learn to confront their different backgrounds, acknowledge racism in their school, and find common ground in their struggles if they are going to remain friends. A sequel to New Kid, the full cast narration, music, and sound effects help bring this graphic novel alive in audio.

A Complicated Love Story Set in Space. By Shaun David Hutchinson. Read by Gibson Frazier, Candace Thaxton & Kevin R. Free. Simon & Schuster-Audiobooks/Simon & Schuster Audio. $79.99 (9781797118222).

There’s nothing normal about waking up in a spacesuit floating in space, but that’s exactly what happens to Noa. How did he get here? What’s he supposed to do now? Trapped on board the spaceship Qriosity with strangers, they must navigate space, incredible danger, and mysteries of the heart.

Concrete Rose. By Angie Thomas. Read by Dion Graham. HarperCollins Publishers Inc./Balzer + Bray, $59.98 (9780063043817).

In this prequel to 2017’s The Hate U Give, Dion Graham masterfully gives life to fan favorite and Starr’s father, Maverick Carter, detailing his life and experiences from his years. Graham’s voice matches the character well and brings the story to life.

The Cousins. By Karen M. McManus. Read by Sarah Skaer, Kate Reinders, David Garelik & Julia Whelan. 2020. Penguin Random House Audio Publishing Group/Listening Library, $69 (9781984842152).

The Story cousins come together when their estranged grandmother writes a letter inviting them to work at her island resort for the summer. The cousins quickly uncover many family secrets. The book’s four POV characters are voiced by different readers who do an incredible job developing unique personalities in this thrilling mystery.

The Electric Kingdom. By David Arnold. Read by Thérèse Plummer. Penguin Random House Audio Publishing Group/Listening Library, $75 (9780593342572).

In this mind-bending post-apocalyptic story, a deadly Fly Flu has laid waste to Earth. A few teen survivors must find their way to a life worth living. Stories intertwine and time bends to intrigue the reader.  Plummer’s narration is fantastic, her voice well-suited with attention to sounds and inflection.

Game Changer. By Neal Shusterman. Read by Andrew Eiden & Jennifer Jill Araya. HarperCollins Publishers Inc./Quill Tree Books, $67.48 (9780063033061).

Ashley finds himself the locus of the universe after a severe head injury sustained in a football game. Every time he takes a hard hit, he finds himself knocked into an alternate universe in which seemingly small historical social actions have big consequences in this thought provoking time bender.

Happily Ever Afters. By Elise Bryant. Read by Jordan Cobb. HarperCollins Publishers Inc./Balzer + Bray, $67.48 (9780063058132).

After Tessa is accepted into a prestigious art school, she’s excited and nervous to finally share her stories with more than just her best friend.  After getting writer’s block, she comes up with the perfect solution: starring in her own love story. Cobb’s narration expertly navigates Tessa’s anxieties, worries and fears.

Heiress Apparently: Daughters of the Dynasty, Book 1. By Diana Ma. Read by Catherine Ho. 2020. Penguin Random House Audio Publishing Group/Listening Library, $63 (9780593396995).

Gemma is thrilled when she finally gets her big Hollywood break, but conflicted because the film is shooting in Beijing, where she’s been forbidden from visiting.  After being mistaken for one of Beijing’s hottest socialites, she must uncover secrets hidden her entire life.  Ho provides various voices and accents respectfully and effortlessly.

Home is Not a Country. By Safia Elhillo. Read by Safia Elhillo. Penguin Random House Audio Publishing Group/Listening Library, $38 (9780593343715).

Nima feels like an outsider trying to be part of her mother’s culture while missing the father she never knew. When tragedy strikes, she learns something about her father that changes her entire life. This lyrically beautiful novel in verse is full of precise subtext with high teen appeal, skillfully narrated by the author.

The Initial Insult. By Mindy McGinnis. Read by Lisa Flanagan, Brittany Pressley & Tim Campbell. HarperCollins Publishers Inc./Katherine Tegen Books, $52.48 (9780063064232).

Before her parents disappeared, Tress was fine. Now living with her abusive grandfather at a dilapidated zoo, she is one insult away from snapping. When she does, a horror story inspired by Edgar Allen Poe ensues. This first-in-a-duology audiobook is a master craft of dueling narrators and an interfering wildcat.

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue. By V.E. Schwab. Read by Julia Whelan. 2020. Macmillan Audio/Macmillan Audio, $69.99 (9781250777959).

Addie LaRue cannot be remembered.  For 300 years she has been unable to leave a trace.  When she discovers a person who doesn’t forget her, she must figure out how to keep him, and herself, together.  Whelan’s narration gives Addie the perfect voice, and expertly brings all the characters to life.

Junk Boy. By Tony Abbott. Read by Kirby Heyborne. 2020. HarperCollins Publishers Inc./Katherine Tegen Books, $39.98 (9780063033702).

Bobby Lang, a teen in abject poverty, can no longer escape notice when he befriends the troubled, much wealthier, but supremely unhappy, Rachel. Kirby Heyborne gives an emotionally deep performance in his narration of this free verse novel.

Kingdom of the Wicked. By Kerrie Maniscalco. Read by Marisa Calin & Jimmy Peterson. 2020. Blackstone Audio, Inc./Hachette Book Group/Jimmy Patterson, $65 (9781549161636).

Emilia and Vittoria are part of a long line of witches, which they keep secret to avoid persecution. When Emilia finds Vittoria’s body, she vows vengeance even if it means joining forces with the Wicked, princes of Hell. The audio has a haunting quality that underscores the supernatural.

Last Night at the Telegraph Club. By Malinda Lo. Read by Emily Woo Zeller. Penguin Random House Audio Publishing Group/Listening Library, $75 (9780593341650).

In 1954 San Francisco the Red-Scare looms over everything including the life of Lily and her Chinese American family. In the midst of all the fear and racism, Lily finds love and acceptance at the lesbian bar Telegraph Club. Zeller’s narration is expressive, giving voice to individual characters.

The Life I’m In. By Sharon G. Flake. Read by Bahni Turpin. Scholastic Inc. Audiobooks/Scholastic Audio, $74.99 (9781338739152).

Char, reviled bully from The Skin I’m In, gets her story in this harrowing tale of runaways and sex trafficking. Char’s life follows a terrible downward spiral, until she manages to rescue herself and begin a road to recovery. Bahni Turpin’s expert narration brings Char’s story into the listener’s heart.

Lore. By Alexandra Bracken. Read by Fryda Wolff. Disney Book Group/Disney Hyperion, $38.99 (9781368075107).

During the Agon, Greek gods are hunted by mortals who want to obtain their powers. A lost love and a dying goddess draw Lore back into the fray. Fryda Wolff’s narration infuses each character with life in this action packed fantasy.

The Love Curse of Melody McIntyre. By Robin Talley. Read by Jennifer Jill Araya. 2020. HarperCollins Publishers Inc./HarperTeen, $67.48 (9780063033641).

Melody McIntyre’s love life may be a red hot mess, but she’s striving to be Beaconville Theater’s best stage manager. Vowing to not fall in love during the production of Les Misérables seems to be doable until she meets Odile. Production and narration are pitch perfect, even on the accents.

Love in English. By Maria E. Andreu. Read by Frankie Corzo. HarperCollins Publishers Inc./Balzer + Bray, $52.48 (9780063058118).

While at its heart a rom-com, Love in English also is a peek into the struggles of adjusting to life in a new place with a new language. The narrator did a nice job of showing the code switching that happens when we have to live in one or more languages.

One Life. By Megan Rapinoe and Emma Brockes. Read by Megan Rapinoe. 2020. Penguin Random House Audio Publishing Group/Penguin Audio, $76 (9780593288917).

Renowned soccer superstar, Megan Rapinoe, tells her life story, calls on white people to use their privilege to lift up marginalized voices, and shares how she became an accidental activist with a purposeful message. Rapinoe narrates the audiobook which has a casual, conversational feel that teen readers will find appealing.

Out: How to Be Your Authentic Self. By Miles McKenna & Tyler Oakley. Read by Miles McKenna. 2020. Tantor Media, Inc./Tantor Audio, 47.95 (9781494532796).

YouTube activist McKenna narrates this book, filled with wisdom and tips for people who may (or may not) want to come out.  Empowering listeners with the freedom to explore their identities and feel comfortable in their world, Out has validation and inspiration for any queer person and the allies who support them.

Pocket Change Collective: Concrete Kids.  By Amyra Leon. Read by Amyra Leon. 2020. Penguin Random House Audio Publishing Group/Listening Library, $22 (9780593294833)

Leon takes listeners through her childhood in Harlem, exploring topics such as foster care, self-love, Blackness and resilience.  Told in free verse, Leon’s repetition of phrases is extremely powerful.  Read by the author, the text is intimate and personal. 

Pocket Change Collective: Taking on the Plastics Crisis. By Hannah Testa. Read by Hannah Testa. 2020. Penguin Random House Audio Publishing Group/Listening Library, $22 (9780593294871). 

Activist Hannah Testa chronicles her efforts to save the oceans by limiting single-use plastic while encouraging teens to explore their own ways to make a difference and giving suggestions on how to lessen consumption.  Read by the author, Testa’s knowledge and passion are evident and serves as a call to action.

Rent a Boyfriend. By Gloria Chao. Read by Emily Woo Zeller & Feodor Chin. 2020. Simon & Schuster-Audiobooks/Simon & Schuster Audio, $59.99 (9781797113210).

Chloe Wang has the perfect plan to stop her parents from forcing her to accept an unwanted proposal: hire Drew as a fake boyfriend.  Zeller and Chin voice their respective characters with compassion and understanding with Zeller balancing Chloe’s desire to be herself and her wish to respect her family.

The Sea in Winter. By Christine Day. Read by Kimberly Woods. HarperCollins Publishers Inc./Heartdrum, $44.98 (9780063063440).

For Maisie, her dance preventing injury feels life ending.  Her mixed tribe family ventures to ancestral lands in the Pacific Northwest, where she finds peace with a path which may not be the one she chose.  Woods’ voice is perfectly matched to Maisie’s character in this sweet audiobook.

When You Look Like Us. By Pamela N. Harris. Read by Preston Butler III. HarperCollins Publishers Inc./Quill Tree Books, $67.48 (9780063064317).

Jay’s sister Nic has disappeared again.  But going missing from their neighborhood raises no alarm for police action.  This is an edge-of-your-seat thriller rooted in classism and racism. Butler’s voice as Jay and his cadence keeps the listener’s blood pumping as Jay tries to bring his sister home. 

You Have a Match. By Emma Lord. Read by Eva Kaminsky. Macmillan Audio/Macmillan Young Listeners, $44.99 (9781250792280).

Abby signs up for a DNA service and discovers she has an older sister she was never told about. They meet up at summer camp, where Abby’s crush happens to be the chef. Typical summer camp antics ensue. Kaminsky’s masterful narration adds a heartfelt feel to this novel of sisterhood, romance and friendship.

Want to suggest a title? The Title Suggestion Form is open!

Want a printable version of this round-up? Download the Spring nominations round-up.