Getting out the Vote: Audiobooks for Election Season
It’s election season! I’m sure that you know this already, but with quarantines and Stay at Home orders and way too much Coronavirus doomscrolling, some of that election fever, particularly for local elections, has been less evident this year. The one thing that has kept me more involved than I might have been is that I’ve been talking to my teenage son about upcoming elections, and his interest has reminded me of how important it is for young people to take part in our political process. After all, it won’t be too long before they’ll be making policy decisions and helping to shape our government. Even if teens aren’t able to vote yet, they can still play a role–it’s never too early to start speaking up and speaking out!
If you’re looking to embrace the excitement of the election season, make sure to check out the following audiobooks. These audios highlight activism, involvement, and taking a stand. The characters in these stories bravely confront the big societal and political issues that affect today’s teens–racism, civil disobedience, voter suppression, and religious freedom. It is great to see teens’ interests and passions being so sensitively represented, and these stories are sure to resonate. Let’s get out the vote!
The Voting Booth, by Brandy Colbert, narrated by Robin Eller and Cary Hite. 6 hrs, 5 min. Dreamscape Media, 2020.
Robin Eller and Cary Hite take turns as they narrate the story of two Black teens, Marva and Duke, who overcome enormous obstacles in order to vote for the first time. Marva is all about political activism. She has been working hard to register people to vote and help them get to the polls, and she is the first person in line on voting day. Duke comes from a family that hugely values political activism, too, but in his case, he really just wants to get the voting over so that he can continue on with his life. When he is turned away at the polls, he’s ready to give up, but Marva certainly is not. The two teens spend the entire day getting to know each other and encountering barrier after barrier in their quest to get Duke’s vote in.
The alternating first-person narration in this audio helps to draw listeners closer to Marva and Duke, allowing us to know their innermost thoughts and concerns. Eller and Hite’s narration deepens this intimacy, as Marva and Duke’s personalities are so authentically realized. Both narrators balance the warmth and humor of the story with the thorny issues that the two must confront–voter suppression, systemic racism, and gun violence, among others. The one drawback to this audio is that the sound quality between Marva and Duke’s sections are notably different. Many listeners won’t care at all, but those who hate to fumble with the volume controls may be annoyed. Aside from this minor technical issue, this is an audio that is sure to capture your heart.
Yes No Maybe So, by Becky Albertalli and Aisha Saeed, narrated by Tiya Sircar and Michael Crouch. 10 hrs, 57 min. HarperAudio, 2020.
Talented narrators Tiya Sircar and Michael Crouch join forces to tell the story of Georgia teens Jamie and Maya who discover the importance of political activism and speaking out against bigotry and injustice. Jamie and Maya start out the summer as a reluctant political canvassing pair, but before they know it, they begin to realize that they really can make a difference. Jamie, who comes from a Jewish family, and Maya, a Pakistani-American Muslim, come from very different families, but their shared passion and courage draw them together. When a discriminatory anti-hijab bill comes up for consideration, they are galvanized to take a stand. Even if they can’t win the fight, it won’t be for lack of trying.
Sircar and Crouch are a perfectly balanced duo, embodying the characters’ personalities and imbuing them with depth and complexity. Sircar’s Maya is enthusiastic and energetic, warm and giving, even though she is struggling not to worry about her parents’ separation and her best friend who has suddenly dropped out of her life. For his part, Crouch is tailor-made for Jamie’s narration, bringing out Jamie’s hesitancy and awkwardness as he tries to conquer his fears and learns how to say what he thinks. Together, the two create a completely believable and utterly charming rom-com-meets-activism story. Definitely something for everyone in this delightful audio.
Running, by Natalia Sylvester, narrated by Frankie Corzo. 8 hrs, 1 min. Recorded Books, 2020.
Narrator Frankie Corzo provides an authentic and nuanced portrayal of fifteen-year-old Mariana Ruiz, whose father has embarked on an ambitious, and occasionally ruthless, run for president. Mari is no stranger to campaigns, as her father, a U.S. Senator from Florida, has long been involved in state and local politics. But this campaign is different. With the presidential race, the political spotlight is shining on her as never before, and every aspect of her life is open for scrutiny.
While pressure from the campaign intensifies, Mari becomes involved in local politics herself and publicly advocates for more responsible environmental policies. As she becomes more politically engaged, she discovers that her father, whom she has always idolized, isn’t the man she had thought him to be. Corzo skillfully conveys Mari’s inner turmoil as she begins to find her own voice, realizing that her growing political sensibility may bring a wedge between herself and her family. Corzo’s depiction of Mari’s circle of friends is particularly well done, as she seamlessly incorporates the many voices and accents (Haitian, Dominican, Cuban, Peruvian) that make up this diverse community. Many Spanish words and phrases are woven throughout and are fluently rendered by Corzo (so happy that Recorded Books selected a Latinx narrator for this audio…yay!!). Corzo’s sensitive delivery makes for a truly powerful and moving audiobook. This is one that you won’t want to put down, and who knows, it might just make you want to get involved yourself!