To Be American

Written by Francisca Goldsmith on Wednesday, June 28, 2017


With American Independence Day falling during AudiobookSYNC’s tenth week, it seems right to turn to a pair of audiobooks in which the possible meanings of being American lies at the core.


MY NAME IS NOT EASY, a National Book Award Finalist (2011) and a YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults winner (2012), comes from Alaskan author Debby Dahl Edwardson. In accurate historical fiction, we meet three Inupiak (Eskimo) youth sent to a boarding school where they’re estranged from their native culture and used as illegal test subjects. Nick Podehl and Amy Rubinate share the narration here for Brilliance Audio, and both sound credibly young and provide the wide range of emotions experienced by these young Americans.

AMERICAN NIGHT: THE BALLAD OF JUAN JOSÉ is the work of award-winning playwright, filmmaker, and actor Richard Montoya. Staged with comedy trio Culture Clash and a full cast, this play features vignettes from the dreams of the title character, a Mexican immigrant, during the night before his U.S. citizenship exam. Thanks to L.A. Theatre Works for contributing this recording of the performance, which was developed by Culture Clash with Jo Bonney and which takes listeners into alleys of American history as a hard working and imaginative student might rehearse them in anticipation of the big exam.

To extend the value of these two titles for teens’ own collections, we are offering an audiobook discussion guide to accompany them, which will be published here over the weekend. If you regularly work with a teen book group or teach a summer school history class, you might use the guide to delve into the stories of being American the week’s selections offer. Be sure to remind your group to download this week's free audiobooks and listen to them for a discussion you can schedule in a week or month from now, after all have had the opportunity to listen.

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