Living History

Written by Francisca Goldsmith on Thursday, July 23, 2020

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This week’s #OwnVoices audiobooks include a contemporary classic and a novel whose author continues to write award-winners. Thank you to Recorded Books and Candlewick on Brilliance for this tremendous pair!


Octavia Butler’s genre blending science fiction historical novel Kindred belongs in everyone’s ears, and especially this summer as the world undertakes a review of how past wrongs need present correction.  Narrator Kim Staunton uses a range of accents to help listeners track a story with multiple timelines and shifting emotions as we follow a 20th-century Los Angeles woman back to the story of her slaveholder ancestor in Maryland more than a century earlier.  Butler’s genius will attract story lovers of all genres, and everyone will come away wanting to talk about this listening experience in our current context.

Author Meg Medina has earned many awards for her books for both kids and teens.  Burn Baby Burn, narrated with fluid interweaving of English and Spanish by Marisol Ramirez, is set in New York City during the hot, restless summer of 1977.  It shares several themes with its paired audiobook title for the week, including its presentation of a family with a member who is a bully, and a cultural milieu that is dangerous, especially, as is the case here, for the Cuban American girl at the story’s center. There are plenty of historically accurate facets to this story as well, including the looming terror New Yorkers felt during the summer of the Son of Sam killings.

Our final pair of free audiobooks for SYNC 2020 will keep you listening and probably even repeating your listening to them.  Fortunately, as with all 26 audiobooks you’ve been able to download this season, they are yours for the next 98 years.  So, dig in, listen up, and come back between now and next SYNC season for tips and ideas about other audiobooks of high interest to teen listeners.

Thanks for joining us in 2020!

Photos above show this week's narrators, Marisol Ramirez (left) and Kim Staunton (right)

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