Written by Francisca Goldsmith on Thursday, May 30, 2019

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Friends and family are important people in all our lives. Sometimes, however, instead of looking to others for support and rescue we need to get through hard times on our own. This week’s pair of audiobooks from Penguin Random House Audio/Listening Library shows how some fictional teens face such events.


Jorjeana Marie narrates Kerry Kletter’s THE FIRST TIME SHE DROWNED in tones that make 18-year-old Cassie sound believable. Here is a story of a girl who must break free from an abusive mother while she also learns to navigate college life after two years in an institutional setting.  Kletter’s lyrical language is mirrored in Marie’s pacing, making this an easy listen in spite of its difficult subject matter.

WILD BIRD, by Wendelin Van Draanen (who write the Sammy Keyes novels for younger readers), is narrated by Alex McKenna. The setting here is a therapy camp where 14-year-old Wren experiences widely ranging emotions as she comes to terms with herself and her capacities. McKenna gives Wren a slightly rough interior voice, an edginess that makes listeners aware of her vulnerability as well as her potential. Wren is complex and McKenna reels listening readers into rooting for her in spite of this character’s realistic imperfections.

Self-reliance isn’t a skill just for the self-assured. In fact, as this week’s central characters reveal, uncertainty about yourself may lead you to becoming self-reliant.


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