Monday, April 1, 2019

Middle Grade Monday and Audiobook Review: Blended by Sharon Draper

Blended by Sharon Draper. Unabridged downloadable audiobook. 5 hours. Narrated by the author. Simon & Schuster Audio, 2018. 9781508258780. (Review of e-audio downloaded from public library. Own hc.) 

Middle Grade Monday features Blended by Sharon Draper. Eleven year old Isabella is a piano prodigy. She loves her piano and is preparing for a concert. What she doesn't love is her parents divorce. It hasn't helped their arguing. She splits her time evenly between her black father's expensive home and her white mother's more modest home. Each have a partner and when they both decide to marry on the same day, fireworks erupt. 

Isabella's first-person narration is often humorous and always spot-on. She yearns to fit in but doesn't know where. She loves both her parents and their partners. But she can't stand that she doesn't look like she belongs with either of them and she especially doesn't like the prying questions.

One can bet that a new Draper book will tackle tough issues head-on. Blended has a few and they are done well. Her father is the one in the large house. Her mom is solidly working class. She plays on a Casio portable piano at her mom's house; but she loves that as much as the more expensive piano at her dad's. The near tragedy at the end of the story is appropriately middle grade yet still hammers home the scariness of racial profiling.

As narrator of her own work, she's able. I'm sure she did a great read aloud when she was an LA teacher. This felt like that - a read aloud and not a performance. Isabella is eleven. There are some narrators out there that sound eleven. This makes for a better audiobook. That said, she didn't decimate her work, which is what some authors do.

Between that gorgeous cover and the fact that it's a new Draper, Blended will not sit on your shelf.

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