Audio for teens

Who says teenagers never listen? The following YA audiobooks are so compelling that teens will be lost in the stories.

shusterman_challenger deep audioThe audiobook version of Challenger Deep, Neal Shusterman's novel about one young man's battle with mental illness, reinforces both the disorienting confusion of the disease and the tenuous hopes for its treatment. Caden Bosch's first-person account of his experience plunges listeners into his hallucinations, where a pirate ship full of outsized characters appears. Narrator Michael Curran-Dorsano voices each member of this motley crew with consistent distinction and masterful detail. His even deeper achievement comes in the straightforward voicing of Caden himself, imparting the teen's vulnerability and his resilience with unvarnished honesty. (Blackstone Audio, 14 years and up)

suma_walls around us audioNova Ren Suma delivers a psychological thriller with traces of magical realism in The Walls Around Us. The story alternates between Violet, the privileged ballerina, and Amber, the convicted and incarcerated murderer. Each girl is read—and perfectly captured—by a different narrator: Amber (read by Sandy Rustin) is reserved, observant, and acquiescent, while Violet (read by Georgia King) is haughty, domineering, and impervious. Both readers take full advantage of Suma's lush prose as she explores the dark places of the human psyche. (Recorded Books, 14 years and up)

almond_tightrope walkers audioIn David Almond's epic but immediate novel The Tight-Rope Walkers, the trajectory of one young man's life, from boyhood through adolescence in a small village in the north of England, captures and reflects back the hopes and disillusionments of growing up. Dom's early life is shaped by tangled relationships with his best friend/romantic interest Holly, with the village hellion Vincent, and with his provincial parents. There is a dynamic, lyrical fury to Almond's prose, and Richard Halverson's stoic narration, with a pronounced northern accent and comfortable cadence, is its perfect match. (Brilliance Audio, 14 years and up)

kinsella_finding audrey audioBritish teen Audrey, star of Sophie Kinsella's Finding Audrey, suffers from an anxiety disorder that has kept her out of school and hiding behind dark glasses since a bullying incident took place the year before. Her brother Frank is obsessed with an online role-playing game, and when one of Frank's gamer teammates comes over, she finds herself somehow less anxious around him. Voicing Audrey, Gemma Whelan's sharply observed narration is LOL-funny; at the same time, Kinsella never hands down pat or unrealistic solutions to the very real emotional trauma Audrey has experienced. (Listening Library, 14 years and up)

From the May 2016 issue of Notes from the Horn Book.

Elissa Gershowitz

Elissa Gershowitz is executive editor of The Horn Book, Inc. She holds an MA from the Center for the Study of Children's Literature at Simmons University and a BA from Oberlin College.

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