Amazing Audiobooks (#AA2022) Featured Review of The Cat I Never Named by Amra Sabic-El-Rayess

The Cat I Never Named Audiobook By Amra Sabic-El-Rayess, Laura L. Sullivan cover art

The Cat I Never Named: A True Story of Love, War, and Survival by Amra Sabic-El-Rayess and Laura L. Sullivan; Narrated by Leila Buck
Recorded Books, Inc.
Publication date: December 29, 2020
ISBN: 9781705017708

Growing up in Bihac, Bosnia during the Bosnian War of the 1990s, Muslim teen Amra lived through unfathomable horrors, as told here in her memoir.  As war looms, then goes from bad to worse, Amra describes her circumstances and actions and those of her family and neighbors.  Facing potential death daily and barely able to feed themselves, a cat joins them. They need to turn it away, but when the cat seemingly saves her brother they choose to keep it around, much to their benefit over time.

Written with hope and humor with the cat as an unwitting hero that ties it all together, her story is heart wrenching. Extremely powerful, this memoir is very emotional without being overly tragic. It doesn’t avoid the atrocities of war, but love shines throughout, mostly family love with a tiny bit of romance. Leila Buck’s narration artfully brings forward the emotions, dramatics, and voices through the highs and lows of this tale.
Readers looking for emotional war histories, like The Diary of Anne Frank or Zlata’s Diary: A Child’s Life in Wartime Sarajevo by Zlata Filipović will find that here.  For fiction with similar family struggles during war, try They Went Left by Monica Hesse or Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys.

-Cathy Outten

Other Nominated Titles

Sixteen Scandals by Sophie Jordan; narrated by Moira Quirk (May 25, 2021)

The Selected Lists teams read throughout the year in search of the best titles published in their respective categories. Once a book is suggested (either internally or through the title suggestion form), it must pass through a review process to be designated an official nomination. 
Each week, the teams feature a review of one of the officially nominated titles. Additional titles to receive this designation are listed as well. At year’s end, the team will curate a final list from all nominated titles and select a Top Ten. The previous years’ lists are available on The Hub.