Wednesday, May 6, 2015
Audiobook review: The Contract by Derek Jeter, with Paul Mantel
The Contract by Derek Jeter, with Paul Mantel. Jeter Publishing Series. Unabridged audiobook on 4 compact discs. Read by Jesse Williams. Simon & Schuster Audio, September, 2014. 97811442375437. (Purchased)
"Earnest with a side of syrup," is what I posted to my Goodreads page. Had anyone other than Derek Jeter written this, eyes would've been rolling. But the legendary Yankee shortstop lived/ lives the life he wrote about in this semi-autobiographical series beginner. Jeter is one of the few sports celebrities who is a true role model. He seems like a genuinely nice person. If young Jeter seems a bit too perfect, if the baseball action a bit too advanced, a sibling relationship without conflict and endlessly patient parents, I'm willing to give the twee a pass. The Contract is a perfect middle grade novel. There's decent baseball action, good depiction of friendship, and plenty of positive messages. Sometimes I forget that not all middle grade readers are ready for or want angst and issues.
The novel incorporates several themes of diversity. Jeter is bi-racial and problems his parents had to deal with are referred to. He also has a close friend who is from India - the first family from India to move to the neighborhood. The issues are stated rather matter-of-factly and are not the center of attention; but they certainly inform Derek's empathy.
The new-to-me narrator read with understated cool and obvious affection for the material. The pace is leisurely and occasionally slow. He doesn't change voice for the characters though and occasionally it's hard to tell who's speaking. Jesse Williams' voice was vaguely familiar, but not his name. The thumbnail photo of the bespectacled narrator did nothing to jog my memory. A bell started ringing yesterday afternoon and, when I had the chance, I checked the name in IMDB. Sure enough, Williams portrays Jackson Avery on Grey's Anatomy. In a weirdly funny coincidence, the last two audiobooks I read were narrated by April and Jackson!
The book version of The Contract hasn't spent much time on the shelf at my school. I'm eager to see if the audio circulates when I donate my copy. Both would be fine additions to school, classroom and public libraries.