Broken Dreams

Written by Francisca Goldsmith on Thursday, May 21, 2020

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Week 4’s free audiobooks bring listeners an #OwnVoices pair that include a stage play and a novel, each based on real events. Thank you L. A. Theatre Works and Scholastic Audio for these outstanding and free audiobooks.


Cast members of SISTERS MATSUMOTO include Suzy Nakamura, June Angela, and Keiko Agena (photo by Matt Petit)

Philip Kan Gotanda’s play Sisters Matsumoto gives us the opportunity to spend time with a Japanese American family who return to their home after years in government internment during World War II. The sisters are played by Keiko Agena, June Angela, and Suzy Nakamura, with additional roles performed by Ryun Yu, Kurt Kanazawa, Ron Bottitta, and Greg Watanabe. As L. A. Theatre Works often provides, this recording concludes with a panel discussion; in this case the panel is among Japanese American artists with first hand experiences of the internment’s effects then and now.

Francisco X. Stork’s novel Disappeared comes to listeners in two voices: Roxana Ortega and Christian Barillas alternate as the novel shifts viewpoints between these two siblings. Both focus on las desaparecidas of Juarez, the hundreds of girls and women who have disappeared from a community overrun by drug trade criminals. Author and narrators create a narrative that makes the situation come to life.

Both of this week’s audiobooks may spark teen interest in pursuing more information about the times, places, and events they bring to life in listening readers’ minds. There is plenty of supporting help online, in a variety of formats, and including primary source material that is accessible to many teen researchers. The Library of Congress provides a wide array of primary source sets and is a good place to start. Museums and galleries also offer graphic arts material to expand awareness and these, too, are available without taking a physical trip to the museum.

Photos: Top left: Philip Kan Gotanda; right, Francisco X. Stork; cast members of SISTERS MATSUMOTO Suzy Nakamura, June Angela, and Keiko Agena (photo by Matt Petit)

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