This summer, SYNC will be providing two free teen audiobooks each week from April 27th to August 16th. Each week will focus on a specific theme, pairing a classic YA title with a more modern YA title. These two titles will be available to download for free this week only (from 6/29 to 7/06) at the SYNC website. The tenth week will start on Thursday, June 29th with My Name is Not Easy and American Night: The Ballad of Juan José . The theme for the tenth week is “American Independence Day (July 4).”
Nick Podehl and Amy Rubinate share the narration of this National Book Award finalist, a fictional account—based on true events—of five Alaskans who attend a Catholic boarding school in the 1960s. The characters experience forced separation from family members and eradication of their language as they become illegal test subjects in a military experiment and suffer other injustices. Podehl’s and Rubinate’s dual narration of emotional adolescent voices creates a connection between today’s listeners and these historical events, which are little known outside of Alaska. Since neither narrator is a native Alaskan, it’s perhaps to their credit that neither attempts an Inupiak, Yupik, or other Alaskan accent. Both add levity when warranted to break the gravitas of this important story. The Library owns this in both book and Kindle/PDF formats.
Laughter and applause fill this theatrical look at American history from the perspective of a Mexican who is cramming for his citizenship test. Policeman Juan José, who fled on foot to the U.S. to escape corruption and drug wars, is haunted by Teddy Roosevelt, Sacajawea, Bob Dylan, Jackie Robinson, Violet Pettus (an African-American nurse during the 1928 flu pandemic), Emmett Till, and union leader Harry Bridges, all played with over-the-top accents and comedy by cast members of Culture Clash. Pop references from musicals like THE BOOK OF MORMON, FIDDLER ON THE ROOF, and WICKED, as well as anachronisms like Roosevelt texting, add to the hilarity. The historical selections are sharp, pointed, and thought-provoking. The musical selections, news bites, and delivery make for a performance that simply gets better with each listen.