Brilliance Audio has this cool new program where they send out review copies of their audiobooks, and when I got the box of Fall 2009 titles, I didn't know what to listen to first. With the help of my to-read list and a recommendation from my good friend Liz B, I picked up Carter Finally Gets It by Brent Crawford, which on the surface sounds like everything no one wants right now.
Besides being realistic fiction, Carter is set in the suburbs where the weather varies. The main character is from a white, middle-class family with two happily married parents and an older sister who sometimes antagonizes him, but generally isn't too bad. Carter is not the smartest or dumbest or handsomest or ugliest kid in the class. He has friends, but he's not super-popular. If you press me, I'll tell you that the book doesn't even have a plot; it's just a series of events and mishaps in Carter's freshman year. No vampires. No zombies. Nothing hi-tech. It's everything that could make for a boring book, but as Miss Snark always said: Good writing trumps all. In this case, good writing plus a great voice performance trump all.
Reader Nick Podehl's calling in life is to be a fourteen-year-old boy. Carter is a boy with a rich, dynamic inner monologue, and Podehl beautifully captures Carter's highs as well as his lows. Podehl also brings delight when he reads in the voices of Carter's friends and family, particularly the girls. Crawford's characters are real and recognizable to any reader, and when Podehl reads through the speech of fourteen-year-old girls caught up in fourteen-year-old boy/girl politics, you'll feel like you're in the hallway at a high school.
Carter reminded me a lot of another favorite guy-centered realistic book: Sleeping Freshmen Never Lie by David Lubar. It's got that sort of appeal where teens will read it and laugh, and adults will read it and laugh...and then cringe.
retailer info page at Brilliance Audio || Brent Crawford's website || The New York Post finally gets it || audiobook review at Green Bean Teen Queen
Review copy courtesy of Brilliance Audio.
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