Sunday, June 21, 2015

Landline Audiobook Review

Title: Landline
Author: Rainbow Rowell
Narrated by: Rebecca Lowman
Publisher: Macmillan Audio
Publication Date: July 8, 2014
ISBN-13: 978-1427239327

Listening copy via public library

Rainbow Rowell's Eleanor & Park is still crazy popular, and maybe one day it'll be in the library long enough for me to check it out. In the meantime, I listened to the audiobook of Landline.

Landline isn't YA, although an argument could be made that it's New Adult since a good portion happens in flashbacks when the main character, Georgie McCool, is in college.

The conceit of the story is that Georgie's marriage to college sweetheart Neal is at a crossroads, a road that could split off into either divorce or reconciliation. And Georgie is able to talk to Neal -- the actual Neal she knew in college -- on an old landline phone.

Given that conceit, the novel is largely made up of long phone conversations. There's humor and regret and hope in these conversations as the Today-Georgie talks to Then-Neal. She knows the mistakes that she'll make and maybe, just maybe, this is her chance to let Neal go before she makes them. But maybe, just maybe, this is her chance to make things right.

It's a what-if concept that's intriguing and kept me engaged. Georgie and Neal are well-developed, complex, flawed people. There are solid supporting characters, too. Rebecca Lowman does a fine job with the emotion and angst of the story. What I felt her narration lacked, though, was the humor. Lines that I know would have gotten a chuckle if I had read them fell flat as I listened. Georgie makes her living as a comedy writer, after all, and that wry, dry personality needed to come through more.

So depending on the experience that you want, you may wish to read the book over listening to the audio.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Beautiful Music for Ugly Children Book Review

Title: Beautiful Music for Ugly Children
Author: Kirstin Cronn-Mills
Publisher: Flux
Publication Date: October 8, 2012
ISBN-13: 978-0738732510

288 pp.

Copy provided via publisher

I picked up a copy of this title (signed by the author!) at the ALA Annual Conference last year, and though it's taken me awhile to get to it on my TBR pile, I am absolutely in love in with it.

Beautiful Music for Ugly Children is the story of Gabe, a high school senior who's looking forward to his post-high school life. He wants to put all the bullying and awfulness behind and start over in a new life. Because Gabe has spent the past 18 years as Elizabeth and now he's ready to transition.

His neighbor/friend/mentor John gets him a DJ gig on the local community radio station and a part-time job in an indie record store.  Gabe never thought transitioning would be easy, but his radio show becomes an underground hit. It's the one bright spot in his life, but he's scared he'll lose his fans if they found out about him.

Gabe's family basically ignores him, so he relies on his best friend, Paige, for support. Paige may just be into him, but he's kind of terrified to find out for sure in case he's wrong.

Then when he's finally outed and things turn violent, Gabe finds out who really stands with him.

Gabe's voice seems completely authentic, all the fears, hopes, insecurities, doubts, desires, and aspirations of any young person on the verge of a new life. There's humor, too, with Gabe's wit and charm.

Kirstin Cronn-Mills is straight, but she did her homework. She spoke with trans teens as she worked on the novel and Beautiful Music for Ugly Children ended up winning a Stonewall Award. (Just a reminder than you don't have to be X to write X. Do your research and have respect for that world and you can write from any POV.)

I'd recommend Beautiful Music for Ugly Children to readers who enjoyed Beauty Queens by Libba Bray or Whale Talk by Chris Crutcher.

Beautiful Music for Ugly Children Book Trailer:


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