The Peter White Public Library's Young Adult Audiobooks have a new home in the Teen Area. Previously integrated into the Adult Audiobook collection, our YA books on CD are now shelved in the same area as their companion print versions. Teens and adults alike will find some wonderful stories to help make long trips or busy work more enjoyable. Here are a few favorites.
"The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian" is Sherman Alexie's fictional account of his own freshman year of high school, so his audiobook reading of the book is especially compelling. Whose voice could portray the humor and heartache of this powerful story more vividly than the man who not only wrote it but lived it? Arnold "Junior" Spirit miraculously survived brain surgery as an infant but is left with physical deformities, stuttering and frequent seizures that make him the target of ridicule on the Spokane Indian reservation where he lives. Recognizing that his only hope of success and maybe even survival is to escape the "rez", Junior enrolls in a high school 22 miles away where the only other Indian is the school mascot. Alexie clearly remembers what it was like to be 14 years old, and his writing delivers hilariously funny scenes often followed by moments so painful they feel like a punch to the gut.
Since Jennifer Donnelly's "Revolution" is the story of two young women from very different worlds, it works very well to have two separate actresses provide their audiobook voices. "Revolution" weaves together the lives of Andi Alpers, a modern-day Brooklyn teenager consumed by grief and living on the edge, and Alexandrine Paradis, a brave young woman caught up in the French Revolution. About to be expelled from her prestigious private school, Andi accompanies her father to Paris where she discovers Alexandrine's antique diary and becomes completely absorbed in the centuries-old story. The connection between the two girls proves so strong it hurtles Andi physically into Alexandrine's dangerous world.
When a book is set in England I don't hear the English accents as I read, so it was fun to listen to British actress Justine Eyre read "A Spy in the House" by Y.S. Lee. Twelve-year-old pickpocket Mary Quinn is rescued from the gallows by complete strangers in 1850s London and whisked off to Miss Scrimshaw's Academy for Girls.
Mary becomes a teacher and, at age seventeen, discovers the academy's hidden mission: recruiting young women for the Agency, a top secret corps of elite female investigators. Mary enthusiastically accepts her first assignment and enters a wealthy household full of dangerous secrets.
I laughed out loud while reading Peter Cameron's "Someday This Pain Will Be Useful To You" and then laughed just as hard listening to Lincoln Hoppe's audiobook interpretation. James Sveck is an 18-year-old New Yorker obsessed with grammar whose grandmother is his best friend. Although he's been accepted to Brown University, James would rather buy an old house in the Midwest and avoid the company of people his own age. James' articulate, witty and sophisticated narrative voice cannot hide his vulnerability as he seeks to make sense of his increasingly complicated life. This quintessential New York story will be best appreciated by adults and more-worldly teen readers.
Neil Gaiman's charming story "The Graveyard Book" is even more captivating when read aloud by the author himself. A toddler escapes the house as his family is being murdered in the night, and he winds up in the shelter of a nearby graveyard. Like Mowgli in a much spookier version of "The Jungle Book," he wanders about learning lessons of survival from the quirky ghosts he encounters, who are determined to save him from the evil that destroyed his family.
Nothing expresses this book better than its well-known tagline, "It takes a graveyard to raise a child" and no one tells such a humorous yet disturbing story better than Neil Gaiman.
By Mary Schneeberger
Teen Services Coordinator