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Description⎮Reviewed Mar. 2016
Narrator: Natalie Hoyt
Length: 4h 29m
Publisher: Veda Stamps⎮2015
4.25 ★ Audiobook⎮ I was initially hesitant to accept this audiobook for review because I have not had good experiences with the middle-grade genre in the past. As a 28-year-old, I think that’s fairly understandable. However, I agreed to the review for three reasons: 1) The length- 4.5 hours is not a huge sacrifice of my time, even if I turned out not to enjoy the book. 2) The narrator- A big problem I have had with middle-grade audiobooks in the past has been the narrator overly playing the voice of juvenile characters. In the Percy Jackson series and Miss Peregrine series, for example, I felt the narrator (who was
coincidentally the same guy) played into the youth and immaturity of the main character’s voice too much, which made the story hard to take seriously. In this case, Natalie Hoyt voiced the young protagonist very delicately, capturing the character’s youthful innocence without sounding petulant. 3) The diversity- To be honest, this was the main draw. The main character’s diverse heritage (African American and Japanese) is frequently addressed as a point of internal pride and external conflict in her life. There has been a big push lately for more diverse books and I have to agree. The diversity in Flexible Wings was utterly refreshing.
This story was written beautifully, with an air of authenticity. It was clearly written to deliver a particular message to the reader and I suspect a fair amount of the inspiration may have been gleaned from the author’s own experiences. I cannot emphasize enough how maturely and realistically the main character, Summer, was written. It surprised me how much I was able to relate to an 11-year-old and her struggles, even though I have never experienced anything similar to them. I commend Veda Stamps for recognizing that a child protagonist does not have to behave childishly. Summer’s grace and maturity really helped me relate to her and like her as a character, which also speaks to the excellent character development. For such a powerful story to be told in 4.5 hours, it also speaks to Stamps excellent writing ability. I highly recommend this story for children with parents in the military, children (or anyone) from diverse backgrounds, children who move around a lot, and children who love competitive swimming. Of course, I also recommend this to anyone who enjoys the middle-grade genre. Like I said, this story seems to be aimed at a younger audience, but is written in a way that has a much wider appeal.
Narration review: For me, Natalie Hoyt’s narration was the star of this audiobook. As I’ve said (probably in every other review), narration is critical to defining the success of an audiobook. Specifically, Hoyt’s vocal tone lent seriousness and reverence to the subject matter that may not have been relayed as effectively if voiced by another narrator. She clearly understood Summer as a character and brought her to life accordingly. In my opinion, Hoyt was a fantastic choice to narrate this audiobook. Her inflection was spot-on, which made the audio experience seem more like a performance (without being over-the-top) than a reading. I, personally, appreciate her vocal interpretation of the many young characters, which made the listening experience not only tolerable, but enjoyable! ♣︎
➜ This audiobook was graciously gifted to me by its author and publisher, Veda Stamps, in exchange for a review containing my honest thoughts and opinions. Thanks, Veda!