(That's not the fairest of titles, given that a million things make me cry. I'm a cry-reader. Emotions! Bring me all the emotions!)
One of the reasons I picked the Teens category for the Armchair Audies project is that I'd already devoured a few of the titles, and looked forward to a chance to revisit them and discuss them here. Plus, I've done it for the past couple of years, and have predicted correctly each time (it's a tiny triumph, but I like it.) So now I'm going to visit a couple of nominees which are parts of series. Both of these books are wonderful and more than deserve their nominations.
First up is LA Meyer's Viva Jacquelina! (Listen & Live Audio, 2012), narrated by Katherine Kellgren. You may recognize her name because I've mentioned her here more often than almost any other narrator (she might actually - gasp! - beat Simon Vance in the I-just-made-this-up Overreader Tag War by the time these Audies are awarded.) She's consistenly had books in the running for Audies Teen category, and has won, and you can listen to any of Meyer's Bloody Jack series to find out why. For the uninitiated, Mary "Jacky" Faber was a London orphan who dressed like a boy to join the navy and escape street gangs, and who subsequently has sailed around the world making a name (or many names, Jaquelina being the latest of them) as sailor, owner of a shipping line, benefactor of an orphanage, spy, temporary buddy of Napoleon, diver for sunken treasure, stage performer, smuggler of slaves to freedom, and always devoted friend to many world-wide. Her heart belongs to Jaimy Fletcher, but Jaimy's in the Navy, and while he and Jacky often end up in hot water, they are rarely in the same waters. (That's the main reason this book made me cry.) There's adventure and treachery and danger and singing and accents and, in this 10th book in the series, freedom fighters and Goya and the Spanish Inquisition. Kellgren narrates the series with exemplary skill - those many award nominations and wins are beyond justified - and as much as I enjoy the character and series, it's one I would chose never to read in print or with another narrator, because she fully inhabits not just the main characters, but all of the other recurring and occasional people in Jacky's world.
And next is Elizabeth Wein's Rose Under Fire (Bolinda Publishing, 2013), narrated by Sasha Pick. You won't have heard her name from me, because it was new to me, but Elizabeth Wein's certainly wasn't. I still cry (me and the crying) when I just think about Code Name Verity, as you would, too, if you'd read it. (You've read it, right? Because if not you are a foolish human and need to correct that immediately.) (If you have: "Kiss me, Hardy!" There, now you're crying, too.) Verity's Maddie appears in Rose's book (I cried), but mostly this is Rose's story. She's an American pilot working with the British Air Transport Auxiliary. She's flying over France when she's captured and sent to Ravensbrück and has to cope with a world unlike anything she'd ever imagined. Rose is a poet, and so young - she graduated high school early so she could join the war effort - and nights in the concentration camp are nothing like her childhood days in rural Pennsylvania. Friendships in the camp are fraught with treachery and loss and devastation, but are also Rose's salvation. (I cried.) Pick's narration is a little dreamy and very measured and she deals nicely with the multinational accents of Rose's friends.