YALSA’s 2023 Amazing Audiobooks for Young Adults
The list of 43 titles is drawn from 51 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 2023 Amazing Audiobooks Blogging Team are:
Coordinator Jennifer Sutton, Lake Park High School, Roselle, IL;
Rebecca Baldwin, Cuyahoga County Public Library, North Royalton, OH;
Kathleen Barker, Plymouth, MI
Diana Ford, Severn School, Severna Park, MD;
Natalie LaRocque, Palatine Library District, Palatine, IL;
Shelley Mastalerz, Seattle Public Library, Seattle, WA;
Katie Patterson, Multnomah County Library, Portland, OR;
Josie Snow, Ruby M. Sisson Memorial Library, Pagosa Springs, CO;
Patricia Zeider, Glendale, CA
2023 Amazing Audiobooks Complete List
(*Denotes a Top Ten Title)
The Agathas. By Kathleen Glasgow. Read by a full cast. 2022. 11hr. Listening Library, $69 (9780593585023).
A year ago, Alice’s boyfriend, Steve, left her for her best friend, Brooke. Now, Brooke is missing, and Steve is in jail. Alice teams up with her tutor, Iris, to prove Steve's innocence, but the closer they get to solving the crime, the closer they get to danger.
*Ain't Burned All the Bright. By Jason Reynolds. Read by the author and a full cast. 2022. 40min. Simon & Schuster Audio, $19.99 (9781797137544).
In ten sentences, Jason Reynolds expresses the impact of racism, police brutality, and the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic as experienced by an African American family.
*All My Rage. By Sabaa Tahir. Read by a full cast. 2022. 10.5hr. Listening Library, $69 (9780593502235).
When his mother dies, Salahudin will do anything to keep her legacy, the Cloud's Rest Inn running but his decisions put both his and Noor's futures on the line. All three narrators preform wonderfully, and it is easy to feel Salahudin and Noor's rage grow throughout listening.
Alma Presses Play. By Tina Cane. Read by Dana Wing Lau. 2021. 5.5hr. Listening Library, $34 (9780593216774).
Presented in verse, and follows Alma, who is half-Chinese and half-Jewish, through coming of age in New York in the 1980’s. You won’t catch Alma without her Walkman, a thesaurus or book of myths, and she will most likely be coasting on her bike. Lau does a superb job of navigating Alma through searching for the answers - like are UFOs real? And through confusion and sadness like her parents’ divorce.
Alone Out Here. By Riley Redgate. Read by the author. 2022. 11.5hr. Findaway/Disney Hyperion, $39.99 (9781368080651).
First Daughter Leigh Chen and a handful of other teens are touring the Lazarus, first in a space fleet intended to save humans from an Earth that is ready to collapse. When an emergency forces Leigh and 52 other teens to launch the space shuttle onto its intended course with no pilots or technicians, the teens must do what they can to survive in space.
Anatomy: A Love Story. By Dana Schwartz. Read by Mhairi Morrison and Tim Campbell. 2022. 9.5hr. Macmillan Audio/Macmillan Young Listeners, $44.99 (9781250840578).
Hazel Sinnett wants to be a surgeon. When she meets Jack, a boy who makes money by digging up bodies for doctors to study, she enlists him to help her. Soon, rumors of men taking people off the streets and a plague racing through the city threaten them both. This audiobook captures the sense of the gothic, and the narrator is properly atmospheric.
Answers in the Pages. By David Levithan. Read by a full cast. 2022. 4hr. Listening Library, $45 (9780593608258).
Donovan’s book assignment turns his town upside down when parents try to ban the book because of the relationship between the two main characters. Donovan will stand up to his town to prevent the book from being banned. Three narrators weave together this timely story about acceptance.
*Azar on Fire. By Olivia Abtahi. Read by Alex McKenna. 2022. 9hr. Listening Library, $63 (9780593610305).
Azar's vocal folds and raspy voice dictate her life - until now. With the formation of an unexpected rock band, she is finally able to give a voice to her words and stretch herself in new ways.
Bitter. By Akwaeke Emezi. Read by Bahni Turpin. 2022. 7hr. Listening Library, $50 (9780593416662).
Within the walls of her school, Bitter feels safe from years of harm. Outside the walls, in the city of Lucille, her friends and classmates fight in the revolution. Should Bitter remain within her studio, or head out onto the streets? Turpin does a superb job of lending all characters personality and heart through her narration.
The Bone Spindle. By Leslie Vedder. Read by Lindsey Dorcus. 2022. 12hr. Listening Library, $75 (9780593503164).
The firstin a series, The Bone Spindle, is a mix between Indiana Jones and Sleeping Beauty. Lindsey Dorcus does an excellent job distinguishing between the three endearing main characters who drive the story. Readers should get ready for a wild listen with this gender-flipped, action-packed retelling.
Chasing After Knight. By Heather Buchta. Read by Kate Rudd. 2022. 9.5hr. Listening Library, $63 (9780593507926).
Alexa Brooks has spent the last four years trying to forget Carson Knight. Once, he was her best friend, but she ruined that...and the potential of anything more. Now, Carson is a famous actor who goes by Cayden McKnight, and Alexa's friend is convinced she is the reason for his bad boy attitude. She convinces Alexa to try and make things right. Is it too late for Alex to apologize and make amends?
Daughter of the Moon Goddess. By Sue Lynn Tan. Read by Natalie Naudus. 2022. 15hr. HarperAudio, $82.37 (9780063031340).
Xingyin grew up on the moon, the secret daughter of the Moon Goddess who was imprisoned on the moon by the Celestial Emperor. On evening, Xingyin's world shatters when she is discovered and she is forced to flee her home. Left with nothing, she becomes a servant in a noble house, and vows to do everything she can to free her mother. Her promise leads her on a perilous quest and pits her against the most powerful ruler in all the realms--the Celestial Emperor. This retelling of Chinese folktales brings to life a mythological realm full of beauty and mystery.
Dead End Girls. By Wendy Heard. Read by Natalie Naudus and Taylor Meskimen. 2022. Hachette Audio/Christy Ottaviano Books, $65 (9781668613238).
Maude has been planning her death for 2 years. But on the night before she can fake her death and start her new life, her step-cousin Frankie finds out about her plan. Frankie wants in. Can Maude keep her carefully laid plans from falling apart? And what secret is Frankie hiding?
*The Door of No Return. By Kwame Alexander. Read by Kobna Holdbrook-Smith. 2022. 3.5hr. Hachette Audio, $65 (9781668616437).
11-year-old Kofi is a born swimmer. Before he can challenge an annoying older cousin to a swimming race, Kofi's world is turned upside down: by an accident involving his older brother and by strangers that have arrived in his village.
The Epic Story of Every Living Thing. By Deb Caletti. Read by Brittany Pressley. 2022. 12.5hr. Listening Library, $75 (9780593611661).
Harper discovers her true self after she connects with her half siblings online to find their anonymous sperm donor father. Together they travel to Hawaii to find their biological father, along the way, they learn the family business of deep sea diving and uncover a mystery of shipwreck.
Gallant. By V.E. Schwab. Read by Julian Rhind-Tutt. 2022. 7.5hr. HarperCollins Publishers Inc./Greenwillow Books, $64.35 (9780063220751).
Olivia Prior, an orphan at the Merilance School for Girls, is miserable until a letter arrives from her uncle inviting her to come live with him. However, the only thing she has from her mother - a journal - urges her to never go to Gallant.
The Getaway. By Lamar Giles. Read by a full cast. 2022. 10hr. Scholastic Inc. (US)/Scholastic Press, $83.99 (9781338752038).
Jay is living in Karloff Country, one of the world's most famous resorts. But soon, a large group of tourists isn't actually leaving the resort and something sinister is happening behind their arrival. Wright and Parks do a good job of conveying the confusion of the teens as they deal with stranger and more deadly circumstances.
Golden Boys. By Phil Stamper. Read by a full cast. 2022. 9hr. Listening Library, $64 (9780593347690).
The summer before senior year is bringing big changes for best friends Gabriel, Reese, Sal and Heath. Each is leaving their small Ohio town for the summer and has no idea what to expect. Will their friendship be the same when they return? A great ensemble performance with heartfelt narration.
Heat Wave. By T.J. Klune. Read by Michael Lesley. 2022. 13hr. Macmillan Audio/Macmillan Young Listeners, $59.99 (9781250856142).
Nick, Seth, Gibby, and Jazz are back for one last romp in Nova City in the final installment of the The Extraordinaries series. Listen as Nick grapples with his new found powers, and the return of an unexpected Extraordinarie! Lesley does a stellar job of giving each character voice and personality.
*The Honeys. By Ryan La Sala. Read by Pete Cross. 2022. 11hr. Scholastic Inc. Audiobooks, $83.99 (9781338853186).
After the sudden, violent death of their twin sister, Caroline, Mars is determined to find out more about the last weeks of her life. That means returning to the Aspen Conservatory, a place they swore they'd never set foot in again.
Hunting By Stars. By Cherie Dimaline. Read by Meegwun Fairbrother and Michelle St. John. 2021. 12.5hr. Books on Tape/Tundra Books/Penguin Teen Canada, $43 (9780735269705).
When French, an Indigenous boy who has been on the run with his found family for years trying to escape capture from the opened and reopened residential schools, wakes up in a pitch black room all alone, he knows where he is. Meanwhile as his family searches for French, many dangers arise for them. St John and Fairbrother give voice to French and his family, and all the dangers they face as well as the love shared within their family in this sequel to The Marrow Thieves.
Icebreaker. By A.L. Graziadei. Read by Tom Picasso. 2022. 8.5hr. Recorded Books, Inc., $79 (9781705051429).
Mickey James III is destined for hockey stardom. That's what the Mickey James' do; they play hockey. All that stands in his way is one year at Heartland University, the draft, and his rival Jaysen Caulfield...who also happens to be super hot...and on Mickey's team. As the year goes on, Mickey has to face his feelings-about hockey and about Jaysen.
Iron Widow. By Xiran Jay Zhao. Read by Rong Fu. 2021. 12hr. Books on Tape/Tundra Books/Penguin Teen Canada, $60 (9780735269972).
Zetian offers herself up as a concubine pilot in the fight against mecha aliens attacking her country knowing it will cost her her life. But when your goal is to avenge the death of your sister, you know death is coming anyway. The emotional range of narrator Rong Fu reflects the main character and feeling of urgency throughout the book.
Jennifer Chan Is Not Alone. By Tae Keller. Read by a full cast. 2022. 7hr. Listening Library, $56 (9780593559994).
Thanks to her popular best friend Reagan, Mallory Moss knows the key to surviving middle school: Fit in and keep your head down. But when new student Jennifer Chan moves in across the street from Mallory, it becomes clear that Jennifer does *not* know about these unspoken rules. Then Jennifer goes missing.
The Last Cuentista. By Donna Barba Higuera. Read by Frankie Corzo. 2021. 8.5hr. Recorded Books, Inc., $79 (9781705044308).
Petra Peña wants to be a storyteller like her abuelita, but first, Petra must get to her new home. Petra and her family are lucky enough to be part of a group chosen to settle a new planet and carry on the human race, all is planned out for safe arrival. Except things don't go as planned, when Petra wakes up, she realizes she is the only one who has any memories of life on Earth. Everyone else has had all their memories erased. Can Petra's stories save the future? Frankie Corzo brings Petra to life with spirit and makes you want to lean in to listen to every cuento.
Little Thieves. By Margaret Owen. Read by Saskia Maarleveld. 2021.14hr. Macmillan Audio/Macmillan Young Listeners, $59.99 (9781250795434).
Vanja, the adoptive daughter of Fortune and Death, is a master thief. When she steals from the wrong person, she finds herself cursed to turn into jewels unless she can make up for all that she's taken. The narration brings to life this fantastical world and all it's mysteries.
Loveless. By Alice Oseman. Read by a full cast. 2022. 10.5hr. Scholastic, Inc., $89.99 (9781338780512).
Georgia is just trying to live her best life. She loves fanfiction and romance, so why can't she find it in her own life. What if she doesn't even want it for herself? The narrator captures the uncertainty and emotions behind questioning your own sexuality as the author helps readers take a look at their own definition of the word "love."
The Peach Rebellion. By Wendelin Van Draanen. Read by Lauri Jo Daniels and Emily Ellet. 2022. 12hr. Listening Library, $75 (9780593585009).
Ginny Rose and Peggy were best friends at seven when Ginny Rose and her father worked on the peach farm owned by Peggy’s family. Nearly ten years later, Ginny Rose’s family has come back to town but their escape from the dust bowl still haunts them. The narration of the two best friends is bright and compelling.
Queer Ducks (and Other Animals). By Eliot Schrefer. Read by a full cast. 2022. 5.5hr. HarperCollins Publishers, Inc./Katherine Tegen Books, $56.62 (9780063069527).
This well-researched title explores queer behavior in animals and handily dismantles many of the justifications humans use to inform their biases against LGBTQIAP+ humans. The humor and light-hearted tone translate well into an audio format and make for an entertaining reading and learning experience.
*The Silence That Binds Us. By Joanna Ho. Read by Raechel Wong. 2022. 11.5hr. HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. HarperTeen, $72.02 (9780063059375).
When May's kind, smart, athletic older brother dies by suicide, her family and friends are blindsided. When a rich venture capitalist states publicly that Asian parents put too much pressure on their children and that this is the reason so many students have committed suicide recently, May can't stay silent. Honest, heartfelt narration on an intense and important topic.
*Skin of the Sea. By Natasha Bowen. Read by Yetide Badaki. 2022. 11.5 hr. Listening Library, $75 (9780593343692).
Simi, a Mami Wata, collects the souls of those who die at sea. Then, disaster strikes, and she must save all of humanity. Yetide Badaki characters to life with depth and nuance, creating a version of The Little Mermaid that is a beautiful mesh of history and myth.
Soul of the Deep. By Natasha Bowen. Read by Yetide Badaki. 2022. 11hr. Listening Library, $69 (9780593609743).
Simi traded away her freedom to save the world, but now the world is in danger from an even greater threat, and the only way to save the world is to ally herself with the very force she fought to defeat last time. Can Simi save the world, and find herself again?
A Spindle Splintered. By Alix E. Harrow. Read by Amy Landon. 2021. 3.5hr. Macmillan Audio, $24.99 (9781250824486).
This retelling of Sleeping Beauty takes a fairy tale and integrates chronic illness in a beautiful, natural way. Harrow weaves a story, within a story, within a story, a complexity that narrator Amy Landon expertly navigates and brings to light.
*The Sunbearer Trials. By Aiden Thomas. Read by André Santana. 2022. 13.5hr. Macmillan Audio/Macmillan Young Listeners, $59.99 (9781250866189).
Each decade, the sun's power must be recharged so Sol can keep traveling the sky; protecting humanity by keeping the destructive obsidian gods away. Gold and Jade semidioses (children of gods) compete in the Sunbearer Trials for the honor of becoming the sunbearer. The loser of the trials forfeits their life to recharge Sol's power.
Sunny G’s Series of Rash Decisions. By Navdeep Singh Dhillon. Read by Shahjehan Khan. 2022. 7.5hr. Listening Library, $56 (9780593411315).
When Mindii Vang steals Sunny G's notebook, the only item that was left after his brother's death, Sunny chases her and adventure the rest of the night. Good thing prom was such a bust. Khan does a beautiful job narrating multiple languages, accents and representing Sunny G's stutter.
Together We Burn. By Isabel Ibañez. Read by Ana Osorio. 2022. 13hr. Macmillan Audio/Macmillan Young Listeners, $59.99 (9781250855282).
Zarela comes from a family of performers. Her mother was a famous Flamenco dancer and her father is the best Dragonador in Hispalia. When disaster strikes their family’s dragon ring Zarela is left with no choice but to do the unthinkable and become a Dragonador herself. Determined to save her family and their reputation she allies herself with a surly Dragon hunter. However, it seems like someone is working to destroy everything she holds dear. Can she pull off one last performance to save her home? Ana Osorio gives voice to all of Zarela passion and fight in this captivating listen.
Tumble. By Celia C. Pérez. Read by Victoria Villareal. 2022. 9hr. Listening Library, $63 (9780593590393).
Adela Ramirez’s life is changing. Her baby brother is on the way and her stepdad wants to adopt her, but before she can make that decision she wants to meet her dad; her real dad. Her search leads her to the Bravo family—local heroes famous for their wrestling prowess. Will Addie’s new family of luchadores be able to answer the questions she has about herself?
Vespertine. By Margaret Rogerson. Read by Caitlin Davies. 2021. 12hr. Simon & Schuster Audio, $79.99 (9781797130415).
Artemisia accepts the saint's relic and takes on the spirit of a revenant in order to save her fellow sisters at the convent. She must battle for control of her own body as well a learn the truths buried in the past about creating, controlling and using a relic. Davies breathes life into both Artemisia and her revenant.
*Vinyl Moon. By Mahogany L. Browne. Read by Bahni Turpin. 2022. 5hr. Listening Library, $38 (9780593506462).
Angel's mother sends her to live with her uncle on the opposite coast in Brooklyn in order to escape a violent situation. For the first time in her life, she starts to consider what she actually wants out of life and creates a home for herself. The story is lovingly told in vignettes with a narrator who provides compassion to a complex story.
*The Weight of Blood. By Tiffany D. Jackson. Read by a full cast. 2022. 11hr. HarperCollins Publishers Inc./Katherine Tegen Books, $72.07 (9780063029170).
Prom ended in flames and chaos. All the few survivors could say is "Maddy did it." But how? Why? Despite being bullied by her classmates her entire life, Maddy believed she had a chance at “normal” now that everyone knows her secret- that she is biracial. But, some of Maddy’s classmates see Maddy’s dream prom night as a chance to further humiliate her. It turns out that Maddy has another secret she’s been hiding-one that will change Springville forever.
What About Will. By Ellen Hopkins. Read by Michael Wetherbee. 2021. 5hr. Listening Library, $38 (9780593453797).
Trace is a kid just like any other who loves baseball, music, and spending time with his family. But then his brother Will is injured and ends up with a traumatic brain injury and Trace’s life begins to change. His parents get a divorce, Will isn’t around much anymore, and Trace worries about what he’s doing. When things escalate out of control, Trace has to make some difficult choices to help his brother and heal.
When We Make It. By Elisabet Velasquez. Read by the author. 2021. 4hr. Listening Library, $38 (9780593455937).
This novel in verse follows Sarai, a first generation Puerto Rican growing up in Bushwick with her mother and her sister, Estrella. Covering housing instability, generational trauma, and identity; Sarai keeps asking questions that brings her closer to herself. Narrated by the author, it feels as if she embodies the main characters true emotions.
You’ve Reached Sam. By Dustin Thao. Read by Soneela Nankani. 2021. 9.5hr. Macmillan Audio/Macmillan Young Listeners, $49.99 (9781250820822).
After the death of her boyfriend, Sam, Julie is left reeling. Then, she finds a message from Sam, and all she wants to do is call him. When he picks up, everything changes. The depth of grief the narrator can convey is matched by the healing expressed throughout the story.