Audio Book Mini Reviews: cheerleaders, family drama, and murdered presidents

Addy and Beth have been BFFs forever. Except last summer when Addy made a new friend at cheer camp. But now that they’re on varsity cheerleading, nothing can stop them — until a new coach, 27 and totally “tight” arrives to make their “girl bodies” tight, too. Beautifully recorded, voice actor Khristine Hvam crafts Abbott’s mean girls novel into something more insidious than typical high school bitchy fare. Though adult listeners will wonder when everyone else will realize how easy it is to knock a top girl like Beth down, the real excitement ramps up when a military recruiter is found dead, and both Coach and Addy are there. Highly recommended!

Terry McMillan follows a large cast of characters as they struggle to learn what it means to be good family, how to find a path in life, and when to hold their tongues. Narrated by several voice actors, all of whom do a splendid job. Yet, I wish this work were abridged so that the dialogue tags were clearer (Phylicia Rashad in particular doesn’t alter her voice for different characters). That ending is going to irritate some people, but it was fine by me. Distinct characters make this a must listen.

I started with the audio book of Assassination Vacation by Sarah Vowell, read by the author, but her witty, wandering style of creative nonfiction (and the author’s chipmunk voice) was too challenging for me. I switched to the paperback version and had a much better time following Vowell to places of historical significance connected to the assassinations of Lincoln, Garfield, and McKinley. Her path is indirect, more like falling down the Wikipedia rabbit hole during which you learn a lot but have no idea how you ended up where you are. An interesting read from a woman who’s a little too intent on proving she’s quirky for me to enjoy being in her headspace.

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7 comments

  1. Great reviews! I’ve been so curious about Megan Abbott’s books but haven’t gotten around to picking any of them up yet. I have a copy of You Will Know Me waiting on my shelf, but I’ve seen such mixed reviews that I’m definitely planning to try at least one other of her books. I think I’ll add Dare Me to my list!

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    • Even the most hardened British-classics-only bloggers I’ve followed for years get sucked in by Megan Abbott, so that was a push for me. I thought the audio book voice actor really brought it to life, too. Thank you for reading 🙂

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  2. I loved Assassination Vacation when I read it although it was so long ago I have trouble remembering much about it now. I always like what I’ve read of hers but I think I have a similar problem as you do, her quirkiness is mostly fine up until it just isn’t anymore.

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    • And for the audio book, she was reading herself. Her voice is quite chipmunky, which grated on me. Weirdly, the book didn’t seem to have a direction. It was kind of like falling down a Wikipedia hole, where you see there are connections, but going on that journey requires no map, just a leap.

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    • McMillan’s most famous novel has to be Waiting to Exhale if only because of the movie. I had stuck her in chick lit in my head, and then was dismissive until I randomly selected Who Asked You? when I couldn’t get another audio book I wanted. My bias would have made me miss a great book if I had really thought too hard about labels. Ever since I wrote that post about not calling books literary fiction anymore, I’ve been much more open to whatever comes my way.

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