Amazing Audiobooks (#AA2024) Featured Review: What Happened to Rachel Riley by Claire Swinarski

  • What Happened to Rachel Riley?
  • By Claire Swinarski
  • Narrated by Ferdelle Capistrano, Alexandra Hunter, Karla Serrato, Gail Shalan, Reena Dutt, Caitlin Davies, Andrew Eiden, and Kirby Heyborne
  • Publisher: Quill Tree Books/Harpers Collins Publishers, Inc.
  • Publication Date: January 10, 2023
  • ISBN: 9780063213128

New to East Middle School, Anna Hunt quickly discovers something puzzling about her new classmates; they all ostracize Rachel Riley. After searching social media, Anna realizes that Rachel was popular last year, but no one will tell her what happened between then and now. Anna can’t let the mystery go, so she uses her budding podcasting skills to try to uncover the whole story. As clues begin to pile up and take her to surprising places, Anna realizes that maybe her question wasn’t so simple and that the answers may not be either. 

This story is told through a wide variety of writing forms, like text messages, emails, and letters, which the audio production successfully navigates by using a full cast of narrators and sound effects. Also, the variety of narrators solidifies the far-reaching impact of the story and truly gives voice to the many perspectives. While this novel explores serious contemporary social issues, it remains light and empowering. Listeners will be pulled in by the mystery and will stay as they are inspired to make changes to their own worlds. 

Listeners fired up by Jennifer Mathieu’s Moxie or Carrie Firestone’s Dress Coded, will continue to fan that passion with Claire Swinarski’s What Happened to Rachel Riley?.

-Sarah Carpenter

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.