YALSA’s 2022 Amazing Audiobooks for Young Adults
The list of 76 titles is drawn from 123 official nominations, which were posted and discussed in blog posts on The Hub. The list identifies notable audio recordings significant to young adults.
Members of the 2022 Amazing Audiobooks Blogging Team are: Coordinator Cathy Outten, California State University, Long Beach, CA; Rachel Adams, King County Library System, WA; Candace Fox, Parma, OH; Annie Jansen, Penn State University; Jodi Kruse, R. A. Long High School Library, Longview, WA; Abby Lance, Simmons University, Boston, MA; Christine Pyles, Euclid Public Library, Euclid, OH; Lorrie Roussin, Luna Middle School, San Antonio, TX; Josie Snow, Ruby Sisson Library, Pagosa Springs, CO; Caitlyn Seale, Mississauga, ON.
*indicates a top ten selection
Ace of Spades. By Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé. Read by Jeanette Illidge & Tapiwa Mugweni. Macmillan Audio, $59.99 (9781250808332).
Devon and Chiamaka are the only black kids at their school. The anonymous Aces starts a text message smear campaign on both of them. As they try to save themselves, the conspiracy of Aces is revealed to be much deeper and darker than imagined. Dual narrators make this an excellent listen.
All Thirteen: The Incredible Cave Rescue of the Thai Boys' Soccer Team. By Christina Soontornvat. Read by Quincy Surasmith & Christina Soontornvat. 2020. Brilliance Audio, $35.99 (9781713547792).
An honest and frank account of the 2018 Thai cave rescue told in a thrilling and fast-paced manner, perfect for younger and older teen readers alike. Quincy Surasmith is a capable narrator and will keep readers engaged with this tense and true story.
Any Way the Wind Blows: Simon Snow Trilogy, Book 3. By Rainbow Rowell. Read by Euan Morton. Macmillan Young Listeners, $69.99 (9781250803122).
In this conclusion of the trilogy, Simon, Baz and Penny are back in England. Penny with the demon-marked American she brought home, Simon attempting to reclaim a human life and rid himself of his tail, and Agatha learning about the significance of the Watford goats. Morton’s voicing of these characters brings them to life.
*Apple: Skin to the Core. By Eric Gansworth. Read by Eric Gansworth. 2020. Dreamscape Media LLC, $64.99 (9781662039706).
Eric Gansworth’s memoir of growing up Native covers his history from government boarding schools where his grandparents were educated, through growing up and getting himself off the reservation and out of his family home. This audiobook, narrated by Gansworth himself, speaks from his true heart to the listener.
Between Perfect and Real. By Ray Stoeve. Read by MW Cartozian Wilson. Recorded Books, Inc., $70 (9781705028339).
Dean is a trans guy struggling with coming out to his friends and family. Exploring the internet and joining community groups allows him to more clearly define himself while acting as Romeo in a play helps his self discovery. Wilson’s voice is well matched and he skillfully narrates this emotional story.
The Bitterwine Oath. By Hanna West. Read by Reba Buhr. Tantor Media, $63 (9781705222911).
Men in San Solano, Texas are randomly marked for death as the anniversary of the first massacre approaches. Nat must break a promise to her grandmother to join a secret society of women dedicated to saving those men--including Nat’s father. Reba Buhr’s outstanding narration makes this book perfectly eerie.
The Cat I Never Named: A True Story of Love, War and Survival. By Amra Sabic-El-Rayess and Laura L. Sullivan. Read by Leila Buck. 2020. Recorded Books, LLC, $98 (9781705017708).
Growing up in Bosnia during the 1990’s war, Muslim teen Amra lived through unfathomable horrors. As war looms, then goes from bad to worse, a cat saves her brother. They keep it around, much to their benefit over time. Buck’s narration artfully brings forward the emotions, dramatics, and voices through this heartbreaking tale.
*Chlorine Sky. By Mahogany L. Browne. Read by Mahogany L. Browne. Listening Library. $28 (9780593343784).
This novel-in-verse read by the author is an emotional and honest story of broken promises and friendships. In what feels like a stream of consciousness from a teenage girl, the reader travels through heartache and upheaval to realization and actualization. Mahogany L. Browne’s narration highlights her deft work as a poet.
Cinderella Is Dead. By Kalynn Bayron. Read by Bahni Turpin. 2020. Bloomsbury USA/Bloomsbury YA, $76 (9781547605590).
In Marseilles, Cinderella is more than just a fairy tale: her story is a guide for how women should behave. To avoid being forced to marry, Sophia flees and ends up in a movement to topple the monarchy. Turpin breathes life into the characters but is especially perfect as Sophia.
City of the Plague God. By Sarwat Chadda. Read by Vikas Adam. Listening Library, $63 (9780593291160).
Sik’s world is turned upside down when demons break into his family’s deli. Suddenly, he finds himself surrounded by ancient Mesopotamian gods, goddesses, and heroes. Plus, he has to save New York City from a deadly disease. Narrator Vikas Adams perfectly captures the humor and adventure of this quick-paced epic.
Class Act. By Jerry Craft. Read by Nile Bullock, Jesus Del Orden, Guy Lockard, Marc Thompson, Peyton Lusk, Rebecca Soler, Dan Bittner, January LaVoy, Phoebe Strole, Jordan Cobb, A.J. Beckles, Robin Miles, Ron Butler, Miles Harvey, Kim Mai Guest, Kyla Garcia & Soneela Nankani. HarperCollins Publishers Inc./Quill Tree Books. $34.98 (9780063032057).
Three friends in middle school must learn to confront their different backgrounds, acknowledge racism in their school, and find common ground in their struggles if they are going to remain friends. A sequel to New Kid, the full cast narration, music, and sound effects help bring this graphic novel alive in audio.
A Complicated Love Story Set in Space. By Shaun David Hutchinson. Read by Gibson Frazier, Candace Thaxton, and Kevin R. Free. Simon & Schuster Audio, $79.99 (9781797118222).
There’s nothing normal about waking up in a spacesuit floating in space, but that’s exactly what happens to Noa. How did he get here? Trapped on board the spaceship Qriosity with strangers, they must navigate space, incredible danger, and mysteries of the heart. The cast of voices brings each character to life.
*Concrete Rose. By Angie Thomas. Read by Dion Graham. HarperCollins Publishers Inc./Balzer + Bray, $59.98 (9780063043817).
In this prequel to 2017’s The Hate U Give, Dion Graham masterfully gives life to fan favorite and Starr’s father, Maverick Carter, detailing his life and experiences from his years. Graham’s voice matches the character well and brings the story to life.
The Cost of Knowing. By Brittney Morris. Read by Kevin R. Free. Simon & Schuster Audio, $59.99 (9781797117898).
Since his parents’ death, Alex has been able to touch objects and see the future. When he sees the death of his younger brother, he ends up in a race against time to figure out what happened. Free’s narration effortlessly grounds the fantasy elements in reality and fully embodies Alex’s emotions.
The Cousins. By Karen M. McManus. Read by Sarah Skaer, Kate Reinders, David Garelik & Julia Whelan. 2020. Listening Library, $69 (9781984842152).
The Story cousins come together when their estranged grandmother writes a letter inviting them to work at her island resort for the summer. The cousins quickly uncover many family secrets. The book’s four POV characters are voiced by different readers who do an incredible job developing unique personalities in this thrilling mystery.
Crownchasers. By Rebecca Coffindaffer. Read by Reba Buhr. 2020. Harper Audio, $69.50 (9780063033160).
Alyssa Farshot’s space exploration is cut short when her emperor uncle dies. Rather than name her the heir apparent, he initiates a crownchase, a high stakes race to claim the throne. Reba Buhr elevates this story with her interpretation of a galaxy of memorable characters.
A Cuban Girl's Guide to Tea and Tomorrow. By Laura Taylor Namey. Read by Frankie Corzo. 2020. Simon & Schuster Audio, $59.99 (9781797123912).
Lila's emotional meltdown triggers a change of plans and locations. Instead of staying and taking over her Abuela's panaderia, she must process her grief at her Tia's inn in Winchester England. Frankie Corzo charmingly brings Lila and quirky secondary characters to life.
The Darkness Outside Us. By Eliot Schrefer. Read by James Fouhey. HarperAudio, $26.99 (9780063089358).
Ambrose and Kodiak are on a mission to save Ambrose’s sister on a distant planet. When the ship’s operating system turns evil and secrets surface, the two teens will be pushed to the limits of love and survival. Fouhey’s voice adds tension and personality to this science fiction romance.
Dawn Raid. By Pauline Vaeluaga Smith. Read by Tameka Sowman Vahatau. Dreamscape Media, LLC, $64.99 (9781662083228).
In 1970’s New Zealand, Sofia wants to just be a regular kid while living in a time where “overstayers” are being targeted, resulting in racist attacks. Experiencing a Dawn Raid where her own family is attacked brings reality into stark relief. Vahatau’s narration is perfect for Sofia’s accent and youthful voice.
Donuts and Other Proclamations of Love. By Jared Reck. Read by Kirby Heyborne. Listening Library, $63 (9780593398968).
Oscar is riding out high school to get his diploma and take over the food truck he has been running with his grandfather. Lou steamrolls him into cooking up the mountains of leftover apples from the cafeteria to reduce food waste. Heyborne’s voicing, especially of Oscar’s grandfather, makes this unforgettable.
The Electric Kingdom. By David Arnold. Read by Thérèse Plummer. Listening Library, $75 (9780593342572).
In this mind-bending post-apocalyptic story, a deadly Fly Flu has laid waste to Earth. A few teen survivors must find their way to a life worth living. Stories intertwine and time bends to intrigue the reader. Plummer’s narration is fantastic, her voice well-suited with attention to sounds and inflection.
*Firekeeper’s Daughter. By Angeline Boulley. Read by Isabella Star LeBlanc. Macmillan Young Listeners, $49.99 (9781250779519).
Daunis Fontain's world has been turned upside down. Shortly after a family tragedy, her best friend was murdered, revealing secrets eating away at her community. Narrator Isabella Star LeBlanc perfectly captures the strong lead character's voice, bringing Daunis, and her community, to life for the listener.
Flash Fire. By TJ Klune. Read by Michael Lesley. Macmillan Audio, $63 (9781250807755).
In this sequel to The Extraordinaries, Nick and his superhero boyfriend Seth are faced with a whole deluge of superpowered people and supersecrets that change everything. Lesley’s voice continues as the perfect match for Nick; his performance of the amazing characters makes this a joyful romp of a book.
Flyy Girls. By Ashley Woodfolk.
- Noelle: The Mean Girl Book #3. Read by Shayna Small. Listening Library, $28.00 (9780593340660).
- Tobyn: The It Girl Book #4. Read by Nicole Lewis. Listening Library, $28.00 (9780593397596).
Noelle is focused on her family, school, and the cello. When her dad loses his job, Noelle doesn’t think twice about working more hours. When her friend Tobyn starts occupying her thoughts, Noelle wonders if being a hard worker even matters anymore. Shayna Small narrates this compelling story for hesitant readers.Tobyn Wolfe knows she’s can be a star. When she enters a contest to join the all-female band Maybe Sunday, her mom thinks she’s wasting her time. Can Tobyn prove to her mom that she has what it takes? Lewis gives Tobyn a voice in this captivating, quick read.
From a Whisper to a Rallying Cry: The Killing of Vincent Chin and the Trial that Galvanized the Asian American Movement. By Paula Yoo. Read by Catherine Ho. Recorded Books, $24.99 (9781705028384).
Yoo educates young readers about the killing of Vincent Chin in 1982 including Chin's life, the circumstances of his death, and the aftermath for his family and in the courts. Catherine Ho breathes urgency and a call to action to the listener all these years later.
*Game Changer. By Neal Shusterman. Read by Andrew Eiden & Jennifer Jill Araya. HarperCollins Publishers Inc./Quill Tree Books, $67.48 (9780063033061).
Ashley finds himself the locus of the universe after a severe head injury sustained in a football game. Every time he takes a hard hit, he finds himself knocked into an alternate universe in which seemingly small historical social actions have big consequences in this thought provoking time bender.
The Gilded Ones: Deathless, Book 1. By Namina Forna. Read by Shayna Small. Listening Library, $75 (9780593207833).
Deka’s only wish is to be declared pure during the blood ceremony, but her village is attacked and Deka discovers she is an impure one, an alaki. Suffering untold horror, Deka believes this is her fate until she is given an opportunity to fight for the emperor.
The Girl from the Sea. By Molly Knox Ostertag. Read by Shannon Tyo, Kristen Sieh, M.J. Kang, Raymond Lee, Grant Beck, and others. Scholastic Audio, $74.99 (9781338773699).
When Morgan is rescued from drowning in what she thinks was a dream and kisses the girl who rescues her, it turns out it wasn’t a dream but magic of a different kind. A marvelous audio adaptation of a graphic novel with lovely lesbian representation performed by a full cast.
The Girls I’ve Been. By Tess Sharpe. Read by Tess Sharpe. Listening Library, $63 (9780593400401).
Nora and her two friends are being held hostage inside a bank, but Nora isn’t an ordinary girl. She grew up with a con-artist and knows how to survive and protect those she cares about. The narration portrays the emotional range of the characters in this action packed, killer story.
A Good Girl's Guide to Murder. By Holly Jackson
- Good Girl, Bad Blood Book 2. Read by MacLeod Andrews, Donte Bonner, James Fouhey, Neil Hellegers, Cary Hite, Amy Landon, Raymond J. Lee, Keylor Leigh, Maggi-Meg Reed, Shezi Sardar, and Bailey Carr. Listening Library, $69 (9780593342398).
- As Good as Dead Book 3. Read by Bailey Carr, Kristen DiMercurio, Robert Fass, Lauren Fortgang, Johnny Heller, Barrett Leddy, Shezi Sardar, Vassilea Terzaki and Megan Tusing. Listening Library, $75 (9780593416761).
After the events of the previous year, Pippa Fitz-Amobi swears she’s done investigating. At least until the brother of a good friend goes missing and Pip is the only one willing to help. A full cast of narrators creates a podcast feel and makes the story compulsively listenable.A shocking turnaround in the finale to the trilogy as the true crime podcast turns on the investigator herself. Once again brought to a spectacular audio experience using a full cast in audiobook form, this wrap up to the story will keep readers breathless to the end.
The Hill We Climb. By Amanda Gorman. Read by Amanda Gorman and Oprah Winfrey. Books on Tape, $22 (9780593460900).
National Youth Poet Laureate, Amanda Gorman, recites once more the poem she performed at President Joe Biden's inauguration in January 2021. Oprah Winfrey reads a thoughtful foreward and Gorman's melodious recitation is a deliberate and powerful call to action for teen readers across the nation.
Hold Back the Tide. By Melinda Salisbury. Read by Elle Newlands. Scholastic Audio, $74.99 (9781338751086).
Everyone in her small town knows Alva’s father murdered her mother, but no one can prove it. With no other options, Alva spends her days planning her escape from him until monsters begin escaping from the loch her family guards. Newlands’ Scottish brogue grounds the listener and communicates the suspense.
Home is Not a Country. By Safia Elhillo. Read by Safia Elhillo, intro by Christopher Myers. Listening Library, $38 (9780593343715).
Nima feels like an outsider trying to be part of her mother’s culture while missing the father she never knew. When tragedy strikes, she learns something about her father that changes her entire life. This lyrically beautiful novel in verse is full of precise subtext with high teen appeal, skillfully narrated by the author.
*How Moon Fuentez Fell in Love with the Universe. By Raquel Vasquez Gilliland. Read by Kyla Garcia. Simon & Schuster Audio, $63 (9781797125497).
Moon Fuentez lurks in the shadow of her gorgeous social media star twin. As the unsung photographer and “merch girl” on her influencer summer tour, Moon is in the background, but then her own star starts to shine. Garcia’s narration rings true to all the voices in this story.
In the Shadow of the Moon: America, Russia, and the Hidden History of the Space Race. By Amy Cherrix. Read by Josh Horowitz. HarperCollins Publishers Inc./Balzer+Bray, $52.48 (9780063058224).
Cherrix gives readers a fascinating exploration of the space race focusing on Nazi officer turned American hero Wernher von Braun, and his lesser known Russian counterpart Sergei Korolev. Josh Horowitz's narration helps keep this work engaging and interesting and readers will especially take to his dynamic accent work.
In the Wild Light. By Jeff Zentner. Read by Michael Crouch. Listening Library, $69 (9780593399040).
Cash and Delaney are barely surviving in their small Appalachian town. Cash is being raised by his grandparents after his mother's drug overdose, and Delaney is in an unstable home. A scientific discovery gives them both places at a prestigious boarding school. Crouch’s narration demonstrates Cash’s unsurety, gentleness and grief.
The Initial Insult. By Mindy McGinnis. Read by Lisa Flanagan, Brittany Pressley & Tim Campbell. HarperCollins Publishers Inc./Katherine Tegen Books, $52.48 (9780063064232).
Before her parents disappeared, Tress was fine. Now living with her abusive grandfather at a dilapidated zoo, she is one insult away from snapping. When she does, a horror story inspired by Edgar Allen Poe ensues. This first-in-a-duology audiobook is a master craft of dueling narrators and an interfering wildcat.
*K-Pop Confidential. By Stephan Lee. Read by Joy Osmanski. 2020. Scholastic Audio, $74.99 (9781338673401).
Candace Park’s secret dream of being a K-Pop star comes true, but she quickly learns firsthand the responsibilities of becoming an idol, the vastly different expectations of female stars, and the weight of being the face of a Korean corporate empire. Joy Osmanski engagingly handles the characterization, language, and singing.
*Last Night at the Telegraph Club. By Malinda Lo. Read by Emily Woo Zeller. Listening Library, $75 (9780593341650).
In 1954 San Francisco the Red-Scare looms over everything including the life of Lily and her Chinese American family. In the midst of all the fear and racism, Lily finds love and acceptance at the lesbian bar Telegraph Club. Zeller’s narration is expressive, giving voice to individual characters.
The Love Curse of Melody McIntyre. By Robin Talley. Read by Jennifer Jill Araya. 2020. HarperTeen, $67.48 (9780063033641).
Melody McIntyre’s love life may be a red hot mess, but she’s striving to be Beaconville Theater’s best stage manager. Vowing to not fall in love during the production of Les Misérables seems to be doable until she meets Odile. Production and narration are pitch perfect, even on the accents.
Love in English. By Maria E. Andreu. Read by Frankie Corzo. HarperCollins Publishers Inc./Balzer + Bray, $52.48 (9780063058118).
While at its heart a rom-com, Love in English also is a peek into the struggles of adjusting to life in a new place with a new language. The narrator did a nice job of showing the code switching that happens when we have to live in one or more languages.
Middletown. By Sarah Moon. Read by Hope Newhouse. Dreamscape Media, LLC, $64.99 (9781662083211).
Teens Eli and Anna lose their alcohol addicted mom to rehab. To avoid social services the girls impersonate their aunt and end up on the road to find the care they need. This audiobook engages in struggles with relationships and addiction. Narrator Newhouse captures the pacing of the story well.
The Mirror Season. By Anna-Marie McLemore. Read by Jennifer Jill Araya. Recorded Books, LLC, $79 (9781705039366).
Two teens learn they were both sexually assaulted at the same party. They slowly become friends, but in order to truly heal they must find out what happened that night. Brilliant narration for an important story by Jennifer Jill Araya.
Off The Record. By Camryn Garrett. Read by Joniece Abbott-Pratt. Listening Library, $63 (9780593399460).
When Josie wins a writing contest she’s tasked with writing a celebrity profile on a young actor. During her interviews, Josie is told a dark secret and must decide whether to expose the man responsible. Abbott-Pratt gives various voices to each female character creating a powerful, personal story.
Once Upon a Quinceañera. By Monica Gomez-Hira. Read by Frankie Corzo. HarperTeen, $67.48 (9780063061415).
Stuck playing Belle as part of her internship for Dreams Come True, Carmen Aguilar finds herself thrown back into the arms of a cheating ex-boyfriend. Making matters worse, she must now perform with him at her cousin’s quinceañera--the same cousin whose tattling ended Carmen’s own chance at a quince.
One Last Stop. By Casey McQuiston. Read by Natalie Naudus. Macmillan Audio, $59.99 (9781250803184).
August isn’t looking for love, just a place in the world, when she meets Jane who seems to impossibly always be on her train. Jane has been stuck in limbo since 1973. Only August can help her get free. Naudus’s narration gives life to the fabulous characters in this lesbian love story.
One Two Three. By Laurie Frankel. Read by Emma Galvin, Jesse Vilinsky, and Rebecca Soler. Macmillan Audio Production from St. Martin's Press, $69.99 (9781250790958).
Sixteen year old triplets Mab, Monday and Mirabelle are in a race against the clock to find the evidence their town needs to shut down the chemical company responsible for killing and maiming generations of town residents.
Out: How to Be Your Authentic Self. By Miles McKenna & Tyler Oakley. Read by Miles McKenna. 2020. Tantor Audio, $47.95 (9781494532796).
YouTube activist McKenna narrates this book, filled with wisdom and tips for people who may (or may not) want to come out. Empowering listeners with the freedom to explore their identities and feel comfortable in their world, Out has validation and inspiration for any queer person and the allies who support them.
Perfect on Paper. By Sophie Gonzalez. Read by Barrie Kreinik. Macmillan Audio, $63 (9781250805386).
Darcy runs an anonymous relationship advice service through a vacant locker. She's obsessed with her success rate. Things change when a boy catches her and she learns something unsavory about her best friend/crush's girlfriend. Kreinik does a great job narrating this story of secrets, lies, unrequited crushes, and friendships.
Pocket Change Collective. By Amyra Leon and Chella Man.
- Concrete Kids. Read by Amyra Leon. 2020. Listening Library, $22 (9780593294833).
Leon takes listeners through her childhood in Harlem, exploring topics such as foster care, self-love, Blackness and resilience. Told in free verse, Leon’s repetition of phrases is extremely powerful. Read by the author, the text is intimate and personal.
- Continuum. Read by Chella Man. Listening Library, $22 (9780593411452).
This self-reflective tale explores what it is like to be genderqueer, deaf, transgender and Jewish. The audiobook is given a personal and intimate touch by being read in the author’s own voice.
Pumpkin. By Julie Murphy. Read by Chad Burris. HarperCollins Publishers Inc/Balzer & Bray, $54.05 (9780063088764).
Waylon is an openly gay teen in a small Texas town. His plan is to move to Austin and embrace his fabulous self. When he gets dumped, Waylon records an audition tape for his favorite reality show about drag queens. The attention he receives gets him nominated for prom queen.
Rent a Boyfriend. By Gloria Chao. Read by Feodor Chin and Emily Woo Zeller. 2020. Simon & Schuster/Simon & Schuster Audio, $59.99 (9781797113210).
Chloe Wang has the perfect plan to stop her parents from forcing her to accept an unwanted proposal: hire Drew as a fake boyfriend. Zeller and Chin voice their respective characters with compassion and understanding with Zeller balancing Chloe’s desire to be herself and her wish to respect her family.
Sasha Masha. By Agnes Borinsky. Read by Agnes Borinsky. 2020. Tantor Audio, $47.95 (9781705234839).
Transgender author and narrator Agnes Borinsky explores gender identity and sexuality this story. Alex misses his best friend who moved to a different school, but meets a new friend who helps him understand that Alex might be happiest living his life as not he, but she. She is Sasha Masha.
She's Too Pretty to Burn. By Wendy Heard. Read by Frankie Corzo, Bailey Carr, and Stephen Dexter.Dreamscape Media, LLC, $64.99 (9781662051333).
Mick and Veronica come together at a pivotal point for them both. Mick is reeling from her relationship with her mother and Veronica needs inspiration for her photography. Can their love overcome the darker and darker events revolving around Veronica’s friend Nico's art? Three narrators give this psychological thriller vibrant life.
*Singled Out: The True Story of Glenn Burke. By Andrew Maraniss. Read by Kevin R. Free. Listening Library, $50 (9780593346211).
Maraniss tells Burke’s story from his childhood to his days as the MLB’s first openly gay player and the inventor of the high five while simultaneously placing his life in the broader historical context. Read with an excellent flow while making clear to listeners where footnotes and asides are.
Six Crimson Cranes. By Elizabeth Lim. Read by Emily Woo Zeller. Listening Library, $75 (9780593398883).
Princess Shiori has hidden magical powers her stepmother discovers. She herself is a powerful sorceress, casting a curse on Shiori and her six brothers. Shiori must break the curse to save her brothers and her kingdom. Includes elements from many mythologies. Zeller does an excellent job bringing Shiori to life.
Sixteen Scandals. By Sophie Jordan. Read by Moira Quirk. Recorded Books, LLC, $60 (9781980077589).
After Primrose’s mother informs her that her debut into London society is being postponed a year, Prim and her best friend go on an adventure through London. When they get separated, Prim is rescued by a handsome stranger. Quirk’s mastery of English accents helps to root the listener in the story.
Some Girls Do. By Jennifer Dugan. Read by Nora Hunter and Bailey Carr. Listening Library, $63 (9780593397879).
What is your local closeted bisexual supposed to do when a very queer, very out, track star moves to town? Dual narrators gracefully capture Morgan and Ruby’s struggles as their feelings grow despite their different desires about being out.
Starfish. By Lisa Fipps. Read by Jenna Lamia. Listening Library, $34 (9780593341674).
Since her 5th birthday when she cannonballed into the pool, Ellie has been known as "Splash." Her weight has made her the target of bullies, most especially her mother. Lamia’s narration gives Ellie life. She gives distinguishing voices for all of the characters and does a good Texas accent.
Sugar Town Queens. By Malla Nunn. Read by Bahni Turpin. Listening Library, $63.00 (9780593397893).
Living in the Sugar Town slum of South Africa is all Amandla has ever known, so when she finds an address and cash in her mother’s bag she follows the lead to discover the mystery. Turpin’s expert narration gives life to all the colorful women in Amandla’s world.
These Violent Delights. By Chloe Gong. Read by Cindy Kay. Tantor Audio, $54.95 (9781705283837).
In this retelling of Romeo & Juliet set in 1920s Shanghai, Juliette Kai and Roma Montagov, heirs to rival gangs, must put aside their differences and work together to stop the contagion that’s threatening to destroy their city. Kay voices Juliette and Roma well, fully embodying their emotions.
They’ll Never Catch Us. By Jessica Goodman. Read by Jesse Vilinsky, Phoebe Strole, and Kristen Sieh. Listening Library, $69 (9780593398012).
Track star sisters Stella and Ellie aren’t sure whether to hate or befriend the new student Mila. But when Mila goes missing the sisters become the number one suspects, and have to work together to find the truth. The three narrators add tension and suspense to this sports thriller.
This Is Not The Jess Show. By Anna Carey. Read by Suzy Jackson. Blackstone Audio, Inc., $47.95 (9781094032528).
Jess is living in the 90's dealing with everyday teenage drama. When her younger sister ends up in the hospital, it sparks Jess to uncover a deep secret about the town. Jackson perfectly portrays Jess’s emotional roller-coaster from everyday girl, to an angry teenager hellbent on finding the truth.
Time Travel for Love and Profit. By Sarah Lariviere. Read by Kristen Sieh. Listening Library, $56 (9780593294024).
Nephele wants a do-over of her disastrous freshman year of high school. Inspired by the book, Time Travel for Love and Profit, she creates an app that throws her into a time loop. Kristen Sieh creates the perfect voice for a memorable character.
Tokyo Ever After. By Emiko Jean. Read by Ali Ahn. Macmillan Young Listeners, $49.99 (9781250804167).
While the text has the nostalgic rags-to-riches trope, it also recognizes and provides a glimpse into the struggle that people with multicultural backgrounds can experience throughout their lives. Ali Ahn does a great job of narrating and differentiating the female characters and emphasizing the seriousness in the male characters.
Unspeakable: The Tulsa Race Massacre. By Carole Boston Weatherford. Read by January LaVoy and Carole Boston Weatherford. Dreamscape Media, LLC, $28.00 (9781666501940).
A picture book length listen, this heartbreaking book looks at an often untold story of a white mob attacking a black community in 1921 Tulsa. LaVoy’s voice and sound effects make this an experience to remember, and the author’s reading of background information really lends gravitas to the story.
We Must Not Forget: Holocaust Stories of Survival and Resistance. By Deborah Hopkinson. Read by Rosie Jones. Scholastic Audio, $83.99 (9781338739299).
This nonfiction account weaves together oral histories, manuscripts, memoirs and archives to chronicle the survival and resistance efforts of young Holocaust survivors, with a call to action and parallels to current events. Jones’ narration is engaging and informative.
What Beauty There Is. By Cory Anderson. Read by Dan Bittner and Emma Galvin. Macmillan Young Listeners 49.99 (9781250780447).
Jack Dahl is living in poverty, caring for his brother. Desperate, he connects with his incarcerated father, but now there are several factions hunting them down. With no one to trust he finds an unlikely ally with Ava Bardem. This thriller is masterfully voiced by Bitner and Galvin.
What I Like About Me. By Jenna Guillaume. Read by Candice Moll. Listening Library, $56 (9780593400296).
Over the course of one summer vacation in Australia, Masie learns to love her body, juggle new and old friendships, force out family secrets and compete in a beauty pageant. Narrator Moll brings the spunk and humor of Masie to life with her charismatic narration.
*When You Look Like Us. By Pamela N. Harris. Read by Preston Butler III. HarperCollins Publishers Inc./Quill Tree Books, $67.48 (9780063064317).
Jay’s sister Nic has disappeared again. But going missing from their neighborhood raises no alarm for police action. This is an edge-of-your-seat thriller rooted in classism and racism. Butler’s voice as Jay and his cadence keeps the listener’s blood pumping as Jay tries to bring his sister home.
White Smoke. By Tiffany D. Jackson. Read by Marcella Cox. HarperAudio, $26.99 (9780063029125).
The move to Cedarville is supposed to get Mari away from the scandal of a drug overdose, but it turns out that the family’s new home–while scandal free–comes with some malevolent guests. Marcella Cox handles multiple characters and sound effects in a way that enhances the hair raising plot.
The Witch King. By H.E. Edgmon. Read by Dani Martineck. HarperCollins Publishers Inc./Harlequin, $69.50 (9781488211249).
Transgendered Wyatt is dragged from Texas back to his home Fae kingdom where he is betrothed to the prince. To avoid marriage he makes an alliance with an enemy, potentially destroying the kingdom forever. Martineck’s narration fits the voices of these colorful and fascinating characters perfectly.
You Have a Match. By Emma Lord. Read by Eva Kaminsky. Macmillan Audio, $44.99 (9781250792280).
Abby signs up for a DNA service and discovers she has an older sister she was never told about. They meet up at summer camp, where Abby’s crush happens to be the chef. Typical summer camp antics ensue. Kaminsky’s masterful narration adds a heartfelt feel to this novel of sisterhood, romance and friendship.