Mini-Review Monday

“The world may be mean, but people don't have to be, not if they refuse.” ― Colson Whitehead, The Underground Railroad

It’s lovely to be read to, isn’t it? Rachel and I agree that “being read to by Bahni Turpin is lovelier still.” We’re on the same wave length, Rae and I—we unwittingly finished two different books in the same week retold by the two-time Odyssey Award winner and two-time recipient of the Audie Award for Best Solo Female Narration. Needless to say, we’re all heart eyes (and ears) for Bahni Turpin who has done her level best to ensure audio is an important artform.

Turpin has narrated big titles like The Hate U Give, Children of Blood and Bone, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, and If Beale Street Could Talk, to name a few. I just finished one of her latest: American Spy. Lauren Wilkinson’s debut novel kept popping up on a number of “Best Reads of 2019.” When I discovered Turpin would do the talking for Marie Mitchell, a former FBI agent, I couldn’t download the audible fast enough. I’m with the reviewer who said, “American Spy works on so many levels—it’s an expertly written spy thriller as well as a deeply intelligent literary novel that tackles issues of politics, race, and gender in a way that’s never even close to being heavy-handed or didactic. Above all, it’s just so hard to put down.” And with Turpin behind the mic, it was extra tough to turn off. —Tracy

Pulitzer and I don’t always agree. The Goldfinch? Stopped halfway through which was more than it deserved. Less? Heard from a trusted friend it was less than wonderful. Don’t even get me started on March. Still, we’re often simpatico: The Hours, Middlesex, To Kill a Mockingbird, to name just a few. And a huge amen for All the Light we Cannot See. Add The Underground Railroad to my list of absolute amens. Cora’s story will make you weep and silently hope and maybe even cheer and then weep and claw your way back to hope again. It’s not for the faint of heart. The truest ones seldom are. But it’s another I’d add to the grand list of required reading for life. And while I’m at it, I’d make listening to Bahni Turpin’s performance of it mandatory. —Rachel