Audiobook Review: The Help by Kathryn Stockett

I loved The Help audiobook so much that I didn’t want it to end. I could have listened to stories about those characters every single day.

The Help

Author: Kathryn Stockett

Narrators: Jenna Lamia, Bahni Turpin, Octavia Spencer

Audiobook length: 18 hours, 19 minutes

Genre: Realistic, historical, southern fiction

Publisher: Penguin Audio

I’m pretty sure everything that I could possibly say about The Help has probably already been said at some point, but I’m going to try. I won’t go into the fact that the novel, and Kathryn Stockett, perpetuated the Mammy stereotype in The Help and that no white woman will ever be able to fully express or comprehend what it was like to be African-American in the South during this time. What I will talk about is the fact that The Help is highly entertaining. It is a really good story, and I did not want the audiobook to end.

I haven’t read this as a print book, but the audiobook was fantastic. The narrators, particularly Octavia Spencer, perfectly embody their characters, and I was able to visualize everything through the rhythm, cadence, and passion in their voices. By the way, Octavia Spencer plays Minny in the movie, so she was well-versed in Minny’s sass, passion, hardships, and anger for her role in the movie. The listener really gets a true sense of how each character felt. I honestly don’t know if I would have enjoyed to read the print version of the book; I think having four distinct voices to listen to really worked for this book. I do want to try to read The Help in the future though.

I think that readers of The Help can and should enjoy this story for the emotions it elicits and for the absolutely wonderful story it tells. However, a reader should also remember that the story told here is one person’s side of the story – the white side, whether or not you have African-American characters who are “speaking their minds”.

Oops. Got a little rant-y there. Back to the book: I honestly didn’t want this audiobook to end. I could’ve listened to stories about Skeeter, Minny, Aibileen, and the rest every single day on the way to and from work. I know I’ve said it a few times already, but The Help is truly entertaining. I enjoyed the four voices of the woman chosen to narrate this one. I got completely swept up in this story. I cried, laughed, smiled, and felt sick. This audiobook evoked emotions in me that no other audiobook has done so far. I wanted it to keep going. I missed the characters as soon as it ended.

If you like audiobooks, I would highly, HIGHLY, highly recommend this one.

Audiobook Review: Wonder by R.J. Palacio

After reading/listening to The Dead Fathers Club, which ruined all audiobooks for me, Wonder was the second one I could get through. It was a rough start, but I ended up really enjoying it.

Wonder

Title: Wonder

Author: R.J. Palacio

Reader: Nick Podehl, Kate Rudd, and Diana Steele

The Wonder audiobook is narrated by three different people. The person who narrated the main character, Auggie Pullman, is a woman, and it is pretty obvious that she is not a young boy but rather a woman attempting to sound like a young boy. At first, I found it really difficult to get used to her voice because she purposely has a slight lisp and a scratchy voice. Honestly, I didn’t think I would be able to force myself to listen to the entire thing for eight hours, but I was drawn in by the story and I couldn’t stop listening. Eventually, I got used to her voice – I think it probably helped that it changed between the narrators and points of view about every disc and a half so I didn’t get too irritated. By the end of the audiobook, however, I found myself actually enjoying her voice; not sure how that happened.

While there are only three narrators, we get a total of six different perspectives throughout the book, and each of their voices was unique to me. Occasionally you could tell that it was the same narrator, but for the most part, their voices were different but not in such a way that it was weird. In between The Dead Fathers Club and Wonder, I tried several different audiobooks but couldn’t get more than one drive to work through them. Several of them had readers that tried too hard to make the voices distinct – a super rough, scratchy voice for an old man, etc.

As for the book, I liked the story a lot. You might have seen my Quote Quoted post where I talked about one of the parts that really hit home for me. I could relate to a lot of this book, and I think the lesson being taught in the book is something that everyone should read. My only issue with this book was the ending. To me, the ending of this book was too perfect. For a novel about a young boy’s struggles with bullying that felt authentic and real, the ending felt wrong. Real life isn’t like that. It isn’t tied up with a cute little bow. Everyone doesn’t just suddenly realize that just because you look different on the outside, you’re super cool and interesting on the inside. It’d be nice if that happened, but it doesn’t. I really loved how Palacio handled everything in the book when it came to how mean people can be, the horrible things they’ll do or say, and how it feels to be the one on the receiving end of all of this crap, but the end disappointed me. Other than that, great book and great audiobook. Definitely recommended.

Audiobook Review: The Dead Fathers Club by Matt Haig

You guys know how much I love Matt Haig (I mention The Humans like once a week) and last month read and reviewed Samuel Blink and the Forbidden Forest. I’m making my way through all of his books, and I recently decided to try audiobooks. The Dead Fathers Club was my first audiobook, and honestly, I think it might’ve ruined every other audiobook I might try. Ha.The Dead Fathers Club

 

 

Title: The Dead Fathers Club

Author: Matt Haig

Reader: Andrew Dennis

 

 

Why did this audiobook ruin all other audiobooks for me?

  1. It’s got the PERFECT reader. The Dead Fathers Club is set from the perspective of Phillip, an eleven-year-old boy. The reader, Andrew Dennis, was twelve when he read for this book. Andrew’s intonation perfectly captured the wonder, anger, confusion, and grief of Phillip in a way that kept me hooked onto every word.
  2. It’s an update on Hamlet: Phillip’s father was murdered, and when his dad’s ghost appears to him to tell Phillip he’s become a member of “the dead father’s club”, Phillip must avenge his father’s death at the hands of Uncle Alan or he’ll never rest. The book is set in modern-day England with a cast of very interesting characters: Uncle Alan who’s sweet on Phillip’s mom, Uncle Alan’s Bible-bashing business partner and his young daughter, a bunch of bullies, new friends, and some fish.
  3. It’s got a great story: The story itself was so powerful, just like everything Matt Haig does. The story is equally charming and tragic.
  4. It’s genre-bending: You never quite know whether the story is supernatural or a story about how a child’s imagination can create a whole story as a response to the grief surrounding a parent’s death. Is Phillip’s grief about to overcome him and force him into a mental breakdown or are ghosts real? I loved this idea, and I’m glad we never quite know the truth.
  5. It’s different: The writing style is so cool. Okay, I know I listened to the audiobook, but I loved the way it perfectly captured the way young children tell stories; there weren’t breaks really and the story easily flowed from one topic to the next. I decided to look up what the book actually looked like, and it was just as I imagined it. Here’s a sample:

    “I am all too heavy. I dont even feel like I have a body it is like I am the river bank and the mud and I have been the mud for 2000 million years and I can see everything I can see Terry and Leah on the river bank and Terry who is St Johns Ambulance pinching her nose and blowing in her mouth and he stops blowing and he listens to her mouth and looks at Alan sinking under.”

    The whole thing isn’t like this. Some parts have more periods but isn’t this wonderful? I love this section.

  6. It’s got an abrupt ending: This spurred me to yell out in my car, “Are you kidding me? No. No. No. It did not just end like that.” Yes, out loud in my car. 🙂 I actually really liked the ending after I had time to process that the book was over. It allows the reader to interpret what they think happened.
  7. It’s got all the feels: The book is both as fun as you might expect from the description but also really emotional, thought-provoking, and deep. A wonderful book, just as I’ve come to expect from Matt Haig.
    If you’re interested in getting into audiobooks, I would highly recommend starting with this one. It was a great start for me, and, in my opinion, the reader was perfect. As a kid about the same age as the narrator of the book, he was able to perfectly invoke all of the feelings that Phillip had. Loved this one.