Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Bloomin' bad listening

When I listen to an audio book, it becomes difficult to separate the reader from the book. When the reader is especially good, it makes the book even better than it would have been had I read it on my own. I haven't often had a reader who made the book worse, but it happened with this audio book.

I have to say that this is my least favorite Sharon Creech novel I've read so far - and I've really enjoyed all the other ones I've read, particularly Granny Torelli Makes Soup, Walk Two Moons, and Ruby Holler. The story is about 13-year-old Dinnie, who has lived in dozens of places. Her father is constantly on the lookout for a new "opportunity," which invariably involves moving on to a new town. All this moving begins to take its toll on her family. Her brother keeps getting into trouble, finally ending up in jail; her older sister elopes at eighteen, and find that she's pregnant while her Marine husband is sent overseas.

Dinnie's uncle is hired to be headmaster at an international school in Switzerland, and Dinnie suddenly finds herself whisked away from her home to live with her aunt and uncle while she attends the school. This is a huge "opportunity" for her, only she isn't so sure she wants any part of it. The novel is a coming-of-age story, of sorts, but it kind of left me with an "eh" kind of feeling at the end. I didn't feel like I knew any of the characters very well; none of them stood out for me, particularly, so I didn't feel very connected to the book. Dinnie, as first-person narrator, had a way of talking that didn't sound at all like a teenager. She said things like, "He sported a gold watch." Sported? On what planet would a 13-year-old say that?

The reader the publisher chose to narrate this particular audio book did not help matters. It wasn't that she didn't read well - she was fine. But her voice seemed, to me, at least, better suited to reading adult novels - it was just too old for the voice of the narrator to ring true. It also seemed bizarre to me that, for a novel set in Lugano, where Italian is spoken, they wouldn't get a narrator who could speak the language well enough not to completely mangle it every time an Italian word was used. The students at the international school come from all over, but somehow Dinnie's Japanese, Italian and Spanish friends all spoke with Russian accents. Russian, with a hint of Romanian vampire - so that I kept expecting one of them to say, "I don't drink -- wine."

If you'd like to try something by Sharon Creech, I'd opt for one of her other books.

Bloomability by Sharon Creech (Listening Library 2000)


  1. I think it's hard to find a good audiobook. I still prefer to read the novel, etc by myself.

  2. There are people who come to the library where I work, and the way they choose their audio books is they see who the reader is. It's so common that the catalogers have now made a field for the name of the reader, so if you like a particular reader, you can click on their name in the catalog, and all the books they've read will come up! And there are some who love certain readers (e.g. the one who reads Janet Evanovich's books) who refuse to read the books themselves because they love to hear them read aloud. Maybe one day you'll find one you like!

  3. Walk Two Moons is one of my favorite "children's" books ever. I bought several other books of Creech's and like none so well as that. But, you have my admiration for listening to a book on tape. Usually the reader's voice is so impeccable it soothes me to sleep. I'm a horrible listener!

  4. I love listening to books on tape in the car - in fact, I get so wrapped up in them that they keep me awake, especially during solo night drives. But you'd better stay away from them then! :-)

    Walk Two Moons was a wonderful book! I guess that's a hard act to follow.

  5. Geez...I haven't read anything by Sharon Creech either!! I'm not a big audio book person. If I had to go further for work, I would probably listen to more. But I just haven't gotten into them.

  6. Yeah, if you don't have far enough to drive, it's too hard to keep up with what's going on. Maybe you could try one the next time you take a long car trip?

    I like to listen to ones I'd probably never read otherwise - it's also a good way to try out a new author. I think I'm more willing to take risks with an audio book.


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