56 Booklist February 1, 2016 www.booklistreader.com
and untraditional blend of history and popu-
lar culture. —Joyce Saricks
The Lake House.
By Kate Morton. Read by Caroline Lee.
2015. 21hr. Brilliance/Bolinda, CD, $32.99
Detective Constable Sadie Sparrow, in disgrace over a misstep on a missing-person case,
is taking an unwanted vacation visiting her
grandfather in Cornwall when she stumbles
across a fully furnished but abandoned country house. She is intrigued by the isolated
setting, and once she learns the bare bones of
the house’s history, she becomes obsessed. It
seems that 70 years earlier, a child disappeared
from the house and was never found. The story jumps backward and forward in time from
Sadie in 2003 to the Edevane family in 1933.
Lee, who has narrated other Morton novels
(most recently The Secret Keeper, 2012), enhances Morton’s tale of suspense, giving voice
to the wide range of characters. She captures
Sadie’s plaintive tones as she pleads to return to the London job she loves, a dowager
grandmother’s imperious voice, the whining
of children, the regret of the gardener, and the
gossipy postmistress. This multilayered story
makes for a good listen. —Bayneeta Freeland
This Is Your Life, Harriet Chance!
By Jonathan Evison. Read by Susan
2015. 7hr. HighBridge, CD, $29.99 (9781622318957).
Evison’s fourth novel is a revealing, acerbic
account of the titular Harriet’s bumpy journey along life’s road. Recently widowed, the
78-year-old is surprised to learn that her late
husband, Bernard, won an Alaskan cruise
in a contest. In a spur-of-the-moment decision, Harriet decides to make the trip herself,
much to the dismay of her two children, who
worry about her steadfast belief that she is being visited by their father from beyond the
grave (she is). Narrator Boyce ably leads the
audience through Harriet’s life via a series
of flashbacks, dispassionately recounting the
many choices that led Harriet to where she
finds herself at 78: on a cruise ship, in possession of a letter from her best friend, Mildred,
containing news so shocking that she is forced
to reconsider her entire life. Boyce’s featherlight treatment of Harriet in the present is
especially delicious and manages to capture
the cadences of an elderly woman without
descending into caricature. Listeners will wait
with bated breath as Harriet’s life spools out
like the television show referenced in the title.
By Sonia Manzano. Read by the author.
2015. 8hr. Scholastic, CD, $34.99 (9780545880817). Gr. 8–11.
For the generations who grew up on Sesame Street, it is easy to forget that these favorite residents also have offscreen lives. Manzano’s
life was spent in the Bronx, not at 123 Sesame.
She grew up the daughter of poor Puerto Rican
immigrants—her father was a violent alcoholic,
and her mother struggled to raise four kids while
working full time. Despite a tough childhood,
Sonia was a clever and precocious child, and her
proclivity for drama led her to the High School
for the Performing Arts, Carnegie Mellon, and all
the way to Broadway. Manzano’s narration resonates with authenticity and heart. She accurately matches her tone
to the changes in her personal story, darkening her voice when she
relates events from her turbulent childhood and brightening her
tone as she speaks of her satisfying and creative career. Hearing a
beloved childhood character swear and describe harrowing scenes of
violence can be jarring, but it doesn’t take long before listeners stop
listening for Maria and start hearing Sonia. She is a wonderful storyteller and a natural mimic whose impressions of family and friends
enliven people and their stories from her childhood as well as from
her years on television. Manzano—a noted Latina educator, television personality, and award-winning children’s author—speaks from
the heart, both in writing and in narrating her poignant story. Her
wonderfully effective performance will appeal to a wide audience.
A House of My Own: Stories from My Life.
By Sandra Cisneros. Read by the author.
2015. 12hr. Books on Tape, CD, $40 (9780399564574).
Home resonates across lines of culture, religion, time, and more.
In her first collection of nonfiction, Cisneros, best known for her
novels The House on Mango Street (1984) and Caramelo (2002),
shares more than 40 essays
and a variety of vignettes
written between 1984 and
2014, a bejeweled memoir unified by the houses
she has lived in and her multifaceted perception of home. Cisneros’ narration fully embraces her story’s huge emotional range, as
she speaks of being a first-generation Latina and the sole girl in a
family with six brothers raised in a working-class Chicago neighborhood. She reads with warmhearted assurance as she reflects on
the inspiration provided by her homes through the years. From the
house she rented on a Greek island in her twenties to her childhood
neighborhood, transformed into Mango Street, these homes frame
her writing. Her stunning prose, evocative and sometimes almost
dreamy when heard in her own voice, is sure to draw fans and win
new ones. Expect demand. — Whitney Scott
Yes, My Accent Is Real.
By Kunal Nayyar. Read by the author.
2015. 7hr. Simon & Schuster Audio, CD, $29.99 (9781442371286).
In these charming autobiographical essays, “a collection of stories from my life” rather than a memoir, Nayyar (Raj on The Big
Bang Theory) takes listeners from India to the U.S. and introduces
the friends and family who have helped and influenced him. Despite a New Delhi childhood infused with American culture via
television—he claims he learned about kissing by watching The
Wonder Years—he experienced culture shock when he arrived in
Oregon for college. He only tried acting as a way to meet girls.
While Nayyar’s self-deprecating humor colors his writing, he also
reflects seriously on the advice from his family, especially his father, which has grounded him. No surprise that this fine actor is
also a skilled narrator, who celebrates both the culture in which
he was raised and the one in which he has made his career. These
entertaining, insightful, and heartfelt reflections make for pleasant
listening. —Joyce Saricks
NEW MULTICULTURAL MEMOIRS ON AUDIO
Lafayette in the Somewhat United
By Sarah Vowell and John Slattery.
Read by the author and others.
2015. 7.5hr. Simon & Schuster Audio, CD, $29.99
Listeners unfamiliar with Vowell’s quirky
and irreverent approach to history and historical figures may be surprised by her latest
entry, which profiles the Marquis de Lafayette, the French teenager who played an
important role in the American Revolution.
Fans and newbies alike will find themselves
immersed in a wealth of accurate historical detail, delightfully spun in her slightly
skewed approach. Vowell’s pleasure in the
storytelling (and the obscure historical gems
she shares) is infectious. In her distinctive
voice, she tracks the history of the war by
following this reckless teen, his genuine
friendship with Washington, his desire finally to lead his own regiment, and his efforts
to secure French support for the American
war efforts. A bevy of name actors—among
them, John Slattery as Lafayette, Nick Of-ferman as George Washington, and John
Hodgman as John Adams—read appropriate
quotes from Lafayette and the Founding Fathers. The result is an engaging, entertaining,