Every month, AudioFile Magazine reviewers and editors select the best new audiobooks just for BookTrib’s readers. This month, listeners will confront racial barriers alongside a renowned mathematician, hop on the NYC subway with a joyful queer rom-com, float through space with an amnesiac, uncover secrets in the antebellum South and more. Grab your earbuds and queue ’em up!

Somebody’s Daughter

Written and read by Ashley C. Ford
Macmillan Audio | 8.75 hrs.

AudioFile Earphones Award Winner

Ashley C. Ford brings listeners into her life in this outstanding coming-of-age story, narrated with her welcoming and compassionate voice. She clearly differentiates the two sides of her mother: “Mama,” who was easygoing and kind, and “Mother,” who was abusive. Ford frequently fended for herself through hardship but hoped her incarcerated father offered her unconditional love. Her steadfast grandmother is Ford’s sterling creation — her spirit, wisdom and influence never wavered. An animated interview with Clint Smith reveals Ford’s surprise at her emotional reaction to narrating her audiobook and her great satisfaction at this accomplishment. 

My Remarkable Journey

by Katherine Johnson, Joylette Hylick, Katherine Moore | Read by Robin Miles
Harper Audio | 7.75 hrs.

AudioFile Earphones Award Winner

Even listeners familiar with Hidden Figures will find this audiobook memoir a revelation. The brilliant mathematician Katherine Johnson tells her own inspiring life story, including her battles against racial barriers and her intellectual triumphs. Narrator Robin Miles’s engaging style enlivens the work as her voice captures the wonder, triumph and grit of the author. Miles varies her tone to fit the content and mood, especially as Johnson points to the people who helped her realize her dreams.

One Last Stop

by Casey McQuiston | Read by Natalie Naudus
Macmillan Audio | 12.25 hrs.

AudioFile Earphones Award Winner

Narrator Natalie Naudus brings a quiet intensity to this genre-crossing audiobook featuring August, a prickly loner who tries to lose herself in New York City but instead finds purpose, community and unconventional romance. The latter involves kindhearted, butch Jane, who overrides August’s emotional barriers while facing a more serious hitch: Jane’s from the 1970s, trapped on the Q train in a time slip. Naudus’s smooth pacing keeps listeners on board, as do her well-timed snark and tender, unabashed love scenes. An immersive and utterly beguiling performance, the perfect fit for a tale of queer joy, first love and self-discovery. (Read BookTrib’s review here.)

Project Hail Mary

by Andy Weir | Read by Ray Porter
Audible, Inc. | 16.25 hrs.

AudioFile Earphones Award Winner

Through tone and pacing, narrator Ray Porter makes Andy Weir’s fantastical space opera seem plausible. Porter captures the panic and semi-hysterical self-deprecation of an amnesiac who is the sole survivor on a spacecraft cruising through space. As the protagonist’s memories return, Porter skillfully delivers a United Nations of accents for characters ranging from Dutch to Chinese and Russian. When a surprise character shows up in the far reaches of space, Porter takes his narration to an entirely new level. 

Legends of the North Cascades

by Jonathan Evison | Read by Edoardo Ballerini
Workman Publishing | 9.25 hrs.

AudioFile Earphones Award Winner

Narrator Edoardo Ballerini’s clear and evocative delivery of Evison’s novel works splendidly. The story explores the inner and outer lives of an Iraq War vet and former star football player named Dave Cartwright and also explores a legend involving a Native woman named S’tka who is cast out by her clan and survives on the edge of the ice with her son, N’ka. Ballerini’s performance is masterful. He is equally convincing in his portrayals of Dave; his 8-year-old daughter, Bella, the real heroine of the novel; and his brother, Travers, a hyper real estate developer. 

Stamped (For Kids)

by Jason Reynolds, Ibram X. Kendi, Sonja Cherry-Paul [Adapt.] | Read by Pe’Tehn Raighn-Kem Jackson
Hachette Audio | 2.5 hrs.

AudioFile Earphones Award Winner

How better to communicate this vital history of racism in America to its young audience than to have the audiobook narrated by a peer? Nine-year-old Pe’Tehn Raighn-Kem Jackson hits it out of the park with her lively and engaging reading. Her voice and delivery are unmistakably those of a kid — and she’s an inspired casting choice. Short chapters connect the history of racist ideas with the American present, also addressing the COVID-19 pandemic and recent police violence against Black people. Jackson’s relatable performance increases the accessibility of this important, sobering and inspiring work for young listeners. 

Reel

by Kennedy Ryan | Read by Eboni Flowers, Jakobi Diem, Nicole Small
Lyric Audiobooks | 16.5 hrs.

AudioFile Earphones Award Winner

Narrator Eboni Flowers uses her Broadway experience to portray Neevah Saint, a theater actress recruited to star in film director Canon Holt’s biopic about 1940s-era Black bisexual singer Dessi Blue. Flowers dazzles with her emotional and vocal range. Her smooth voice spotlights Neevah’s passion for Canon and his film. Jakobi Diem’s low, raking voice delivers Canon’s chapters, creating a refreshing hero both masculine and vulnerable. Nicole Small’s fizzy, textured voice delineates a clear contrast for Dessi Blue’s screenplay excerpts. April Christina sings two embedded songs that evoke Dessi’s era. This production provides a layered and significant performance. 

A Sitting in St. James

by Rita Williams-Garcia | Read by Machelle Williams
Harper Audio | 13.5 hrs.

AudioFile Earphones Award Winner

Machelle Williams skillfully narrates this sprawling story of generational secrets in antebellum Louisiana. La Petite Cottage plantation is home to three generations of Guilberts, as well as the people they enslaved. The family matriarch’s decision to sit for her portrait begins a chain of events that will upend everyone’s fortunes. Williams weaves a hypnotic spell, pulling the listener along to meet the huge cast of characters and hear their tangled stories. Williams makes clear the intricate language switching common to Creole Louisiana among both enslavers and the enslaved. 

Made in Korea

by Sarah Suk | Read by Raymond J. Lee, Joy Osmanski
Simon & Schuster Audio | 9 hrs.

AudioFile Earphones Award Winner

Narrators Raymond J. Lee and Joy Osmanski dazzle with their performances of two teens selling competing K-beauty products at their high school. Osmanski portrays Valerie Kwon with a sharp tone, channeling her intelligence and laser focus to succeed, and capturing Valerie’s humanity and faults. Lee, on the other hand, gives Wes Jung a laid-back tone, though his narration is especially compelling when he expresses Wes’s desire for acceptance by his family. Scenes featuring both Valerie and Wes together are splendid as the tension mounts and sparks fly. Both narrators render convincing teenage emotions and cultural authenticity, adding richness and depth to this listening experience. 

The Lowering Days

by Gregory Brown | Read by Nicole Altvater, David Aaron Baker
Harper Audio | 10 hrs.

AudioFile Earphones Award Winner

Brown’s debut novel, set in Maine’s Penobscot Valley in the 1980s, is performed with a compelling, confident delivery. Narrator David Aaron Baker is the voice of David Almerin Ames, who recalls a community divided when a Penobscot teen set fire to the paper mill on the eve of its reopening, destroying the town’s livelihood. Penobscot elder Moses’s sonorous, wisdom-filled voice supports and defends the powerless. Narrator Nicole Altvater contributes significantly with her portrayal of Molly, the girl who lit the fuse, including her smooth delivery of Penobscot words. 


This story appears through BookTrib’s partnership with AudioFile and contains material originating from the AudioFile website.