60 Booklist February 1, 2017 www.booklistreader.com
panic grooms, he shines with the British main
character and his Irish counterpart. His characters are easily distinguishable, and his pace
right-on. A good choice for listeners in the
mood to try something a bit different than the
usual thriller. —Liz Kirchhoff
Two by Two.
By Nicholas Sparks. Read by Ari Fliakos.
2016. 15hr. Hachette, CD, $35 (9781619691391).
When Russell Green decides to start his own
business, his marriage disintegrates, and the
worst and simultaneously best year of his life
commences. Fliakos’ narration communicates
Russ’ confusion, fear, and grief resulting from
these challenges. As Russ adapts to being his
daughter’s primary caregiver, Fliakos conveys
the joy, wonder, and pride of fatherhood. He
even makes Russ’ internal monologues feel authentic and creates an emotional connection
during his roller-coaster trials and triumphs.
Additionally, Fliakos’ tenor voice easily creates
realistic and unique voices for all the women
and children who play significant roles in Russ’
life. When more heartbreaking family tragedy
strikes, Fliakos captures the poignancy of Russ’
final transformation into full adulthood. The
bittersweet ending immerses listeners in Russ’
family drama, showcasing his growth from bystander to a man fully engaged in his life. As
each domino falls, Fliakos illustrates the full
range of emotions that only family, tragedy,
and recovery can invoke. —Karen Toonen
Full of Beans.
By Jennifer L. Holm. Read by Kirby
2016. 3.5hr. Listening Library, CD, $27 (9780735207561).
It is the height of the Depression in 1934
in Key West, Florida, and 10-year-old Beans
Curry will do just about anything to help out
his impoverished fami-
ly: dive through garbage
to collect empty bot-
tles for cash; deliver
laundry to his mom’s
clients in his wagon;
babysit the infants in
the neighborhood; and
even smuggle bootleg
liquor concealed in empty coffins. Heyborne
introduces us to Beans’ “Keepsies” gang:
young lads Pork Chop, Too Bad, and Beans’
8-year-old brother, Kermit. Heyborne’s en-
gaging tenor makes their lively dialogue both
youthful and genuine. Bootleg runner Johnny
Cakes has a seductive menace in his persua-
sive voice as he hires Beans to set off a false
fire-alarm bell to divert attention from the
smugglers’ transport. When New Dealer Ju-
lius Stone Jr. arrives from Washington, D.C.,
to transform Key West into a tourist destina-
tion, his eastern sophistication is humorously
undercut by his somewhat clueless statements.
Heyborne produces some memorable and au-
These youth and adult fiction titles and memoirs on audio, reviewed between February 1, 2016, and Janu-
ary 2017, offer insights into diversity. —Joyce Saricks
Another Brooklyn. By Jacqueline Woodson. Read by Robin
Miles. 2016. 3hr. Harper, DD, $13.99 (9780062472663).
Miles inhabits the complex, introspective August, who returns to Brooklyn to bury her father and is haunted by her
memories of growing up in this diverse neighborhood.
Becoming Maria. By Sonia Manzano. Read by the author.
2015. 8hr. Scholastic, CD, $34.99 (9780545880817). Gr. 8–11.
Educator and actress Manzano, best known as Maria on
Sesame Street, speaks from the heart as she relates her difficult childhood as the daughter
of poor Puerto Rican immigrants and the challenges she faced before achieving success.
Being Jazz: My Life as a (Transgender) Teen. By Jazz Jennings. Read by the author. 2016.
4hr. Listening Library, CD, $30 (9780735207448). Gr. 7–10.
Transgender teen Jennings narrates her memoir with youthful enthusiasm, discussing
what transgender is and what it means to her as well as recounting the many battles she
and her family have fought.
The Family Fletcher Takes Rock Island. By Dana Alison Levy. Read by Dan Woren. 2016.
6.5hr. Books on Tape, CD, $40 (9781101916438). Gr. 4–7.
In a voice both comedic and gentle and often enhanced by enthusiastic sound effects,
Woren invites listeners to join the rollicking escapades of this family—consisting of two
dads and four sons—on summer vacation.
The Great American Whatever. By Tim Federle. Read by the author. 2016. 6.5hr. Simon
& Schuster Audio, CD, $29.99 (9781442395008). Gr. 9–12.
Author Federle masterfully narrates this sardonically funny yet poignant coming-of-age
novel about Quinn, a budding 16-year-old gay screenwriter who mourns the recent death
of Annabeth, his older sister and collaborator.
Here Comes the Sun. By Nicole Dennis-Benn. Read by Bahni Turpin. 2016. 11.5hr. HighBridge, CD, $39.99 (9781681682709).
Turpin’s mesmerizing reading and musical cadence engage listeners in the lives of teen
Thandi and her older sister, Margot, who is determined to save Thandi from abuse in Jamaica, where homophobia, exploitation, and sexual assault hold sway.
If I Was Your Girl. By Meredith Russo. Read by Samia Mounts. 2016. 7hr. Macmillan, CD,
$34.99 (9781427272935). Gr. 9–12.
Russo draws heavily from her real-life experiences as a trans woman for her debut novel, and Mounts’ expressive performance enhances this powerful story of her struggles
and the challenges she faced.
Taking Flight. By Michaela DePrince and Elaine DePrince. Read by Allyson Johnson.
2015. 5.5hr. Tantor, CD, $29.99 (9781494518226). Gr. 7–12.
In her wonderfully effective reading, Johnson channels Sierra Leonean orphan Mabinty,
who becomes Michaela when adopted and achieves her dream of becoming a ballerina in
this heartwarming, empowering memoir.
The Underground Railroad. By Colson Whitehead. Read by Bahni Turpin. 2016. 11hr.
Books on Tape, CD, $40 (9781524736279).
Turpin’s haunting narration of Whitehead’s unsettling exploration of slavery in the antebellum South evokes the harsh realities of a slave’s life and immerses listeners in the
lives of a diverse cast, white and black, Northern and Southern, educated and illiterate.
Watched. By Marina Budhos. Read by Sunil Malhotra. 2016. 7hr. Listening Library, CD,
$40 (9780735287143). Gr. 6–9.
Malhotra’s richly accented narration intensifies the story of Naeem, an immigrant teen
from Bangladesh, who falls afoul of the police and agrees to infiltrate a young Muslim
organization—only to find his best friend a target.
TOP 10 DIVERSE AUDIOS