Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Audiobook Review: Yellow by Megan Jacobson

Yellow by Megan Jacobson. Unabridged audiobook on one MP3 CD. 7 hours, 6 minutes. Read by Marny Kennedy. Audible Studios on Brilliance, July, 2016. 9781522642121. (Review from purchased audiobook)

Wow! It has been forever since I reviewed an audiobook! I've been reading with my ears quite a lot lately - 25 so far for 2017. I cannot recall how this one came on my radar. Perhaps it was via a starred review of the audiobook in SLJ. It wasn't available through my library cooperative, nor as a book. Since the audio was inexpensive online, I bought it.

I really wish the book was available in the U.S. I may have to send to Australia for it because the writing was often stunning. Since I listened in my car, note taking was not an option. I often gasped at all the lovely bits of imagery and unique metaphors. Quite an impressive debut! I would love to reread this with my eyes and a highlighter! I'd also love to read her next book! (Visit the author's website for a sneak peek of the cover!)

Okay, this review is a bit topsy-turvy. Usually I start out with a synopsis. What is it about? Fourteen-year-old Kirra is in crisis mode. She lives in public housing on the poor side of an Australian beach town with an alcoholic mother and a recently departed surfer-dude dad. This departure has escalated her mother's drinking and Kirra is tired of being the parent. She's devastated but not really surprised when her dad, Lark turns down her request to live with him. He lives with a new girlfriend who clearly calls the shots and, with a new baby on the way, insists there's no room for Kirra. She's bright but tries to keep her smarts under the radar so as not to draw attention to herself. She is routinely berated by her frenemies and is on the outs with them as the novel opens. She's tiny and quiet and absolutely hates her eyes, which are huge and yellow. In fact, her father's nickname for her is, Yellow.

As books that portray bullying go, this one is very good, excellent even. But there are tons and tons of good books about bullying out there. What sets this one apart? The ghost. Kirra answers a ringing pay phone (the story takes place in the 1990s) to find herself talking to a ghost named Boogie. He's lonely and wants her help in bringing his killer to justice. He tells Kirra that he was just fourteen when he was murdered and promises to help her if she helps him. When he reveals who his killer is, Kirra is truly scared but she agrees to try to help Boogie, especially if he can help with her popularity and getting her parents back together. The paranormal aspect lent an interesting twist and suspense was high throughout.

The Australian coastal setting was vividly drawn as well as the characters who peopled Kirra's community. It was small and stifling and folks tended not to move out.

Marny Kennedy's narration was pitch perfect. Her pacing, her voice, that gorgeous Australian accent all made for a riveting read. I will confess that I was let down a bit by the ending. It felt a bit rushed and too happy - not that I wasn't rooting for Kirra. And, while the portrayal of her mother's alcoholism was incredibly spot on, Kirra's, hm-m, (how to be non-spoilery?) solution was not. Still, the book is well worth a look. Kirra is a memorable character you won't soon forget.

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