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5 Unforgettable Young Adult Audiobooks

5 Unforgettable Young Adult Audiobooks

AudioFile for The Children’s Book Review

Award-Winning Audiobooks for Teens

Each of these unforgettable YA audiobooks is an AudioFile Earphones Award winner. Listeners will find themselves drawn into the stories, whether they explore a rich fantasy world or chronicle the impact of racism and incarceration. This list includes much-loved author and narrator duos as well as newer voices to the audiobook world, and a National Book Award finalist. Read on to discover excellent new audiobooks for teen listeners.

Punching the Air Audiobook

Punching the Air

Story by Ibi Zoboi and Yusef Salaam

Read by Ethan Herisse

Harper Audio | Length: 4.5 hrs. | Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award

Narrator Ethan Herisse’s voice is soft, slow, and somber as he narrates the poignant free-verse poems of the fictional character Amal Shahid. Herisse’s tone is so tender that one can imagine the sensitive shapes and perfect rhythms drawn and written by this 16-year-old artist-poet before he was incarcerated. The story was co-created by award-winning YA author Ibi Zoboi and Yusef Salaam, a prison reform activist. Both poets shine in every word. A gripping, powerful listen for teens and adults from the opening to the authors’ note at the end. Review »

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Raybearer Audiobook

Raybearer

Story by Jordan Ifueko

Read by Joniece Abbott-Pratt

Blackstone Audio | 13.75 hrs. | Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award

Joniece Abbott-Pratt’s evocative narration skillfully complements Ifueko’s vibrant multilayered fantasy. Tarisai’s pursuit of justice and sense of belonging are beautifully interwoven with Ifueko’s explorations of power, society, and family. Magic, mystery, metaphor, vivid imagery, and dialogue build into dramatic scenes and stirring reveals. Abbott-Pratt’s richly expressive characterizations imbue a fascinating cast with warmth and complexity, and her expert delivery evokes the listener’s curiosity at each turn. Review »

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DEAR JUSTYCE

Story by Nic Stone

Read by Dion Graham

Listening Library | 4.75 hrs. | Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award

Nic Stone narrates powerful author’s notes that frame her story and tell of her inspiration—teens without the opportunities that her first book’s hero, Justyce, had. Dion Graham delivers first-person letters and the raw third-person story of 16-year-old Quan, who is wrongly incarcerated in a juvenile detention center. Graham reads the letters with a mix of jive, envy, and caring. In the narrative he captures Quan’s plight in an unjust legal system—and the brightness and wit that thrive when he finds support. Review »

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We Are Not Free

Story by Traci Chee

Read by Scott Keiji Takeda, Dan Woren, Ryan Potter, Ali Fumiko, Sophie Oda, Andrew Kishino, Christopher Naoki Lee, Grace Rolek, Erika Aishii, Brittany Ishibashi, Kurt Sanchez Kanazawa, Terry Kitagawa

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt | 10.5 hrs. | Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award

An outstanding cast of narrators captures the experiences of 14 Japanese-American teenagers when they and their families are uprooted and forced to live in incarceration camps from 1942-45. Each chapter follows a different character’s story, with the narrator’s voice closely mirroring the character’s distinct and vibrant personality. The interconnected stories highlight individual experiences as they follow an overarching timeline. This work is timely and powerful, especially on audio. Review »

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Return of the Thief

Story by Megan Whalen Turner

Read by Steve West

Harper Audio | 11.5 hrs. | Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award

Author and narrator offer a tremendous finale concluding the Queen’s Thief series, stories that have spanned 20 years in creation. Steve West delivers the narrative of Pheris, Erondites’s grandson, who has physical disabilities and no language. After being dubbed “The Little Monster” early in his life, Pheris has chosen to adopt this persona as a guise. West’s precise reading highlights Pheris’s keen mind and careful observations. Review »

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The article 5 Unforgettable Young Adult Audiobooks was curated by AudioFile. AudioFile is an independent source of audiobook reviews and recommendations with a clear focus on the performance and listening experience. AudioFile Earphones Awards are given to exceptional audiobooks. To learn more, visit audiofilemagazine.com, Twitter @AudioFileMag, and Facebook @audiofilemagazine.

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Bianca Schulze is the founder of The Children’s Book Review. She is a reader, reviewer, mother and children’s book lover. She also has a decade’s worth of experience working with children in the great outdoors. Combined with her love of books and experience as a children’s specialist bookseller, the goal is to share her passion for children’s literature to grow readers. Born and raised in Sydney, Australia, she now lives with her husband and three children near Boulder, Colorado.

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