Hello, lovelies! With all the pandemic craziness going on in the world, I’ve been slacking on some of my reviews, but I’ve still been reading plenty (I think I’m at 23 books since shelter-in-place started?). A lot of that reading has been via audiobook as I go on walks in my neighborhood, drive to my grandma’s house to help her with things, or work on the endless task of cleaning in my room (seriously, how is it that I can clean everything and still have a disaster just days later?).
All that is to say, I have a lot of audiobooks to offer some opinions on, and you know what that means: another round or two of mini-reviews! This time, we have the striking story of a sexual assault survivor, a children’s classic, and a memoir of one of the stars of Queer Eye. Let’s get started!
Know My Name
Author: Chanel Miller
Genre: nonfiction, memoir
Narrator: the author herself, which really lent an extra emotional dimension to her story. I will say, though, her speed was slower than most audiobooks–this is neither good nor bad, just an observation that I set this one to a faster playback rate than most I listen to.
Plot summary (in 10 words or fewer): Stanford rape case victim tells her story: trauma, trial, triumph.
My rating: 5/5 stars
TRIGGER/CONTENT WARNINGS: rape, sexual assault, PTSD, anxiety, a society and legal system that is generally awful to victims of sexual assault
– Such an important story, especially in the #MeToo era
– Captures in vivid, painful detail every element of the process Chanel went through, from medical examination to court to writing her witness statement to that statement going viral to the unfairly light sentence given to Brock Turner
– Chanel’s writing is beautiful, powerful, and lyrical
– This isn’t a short book, but it feels short because of how smoothly everything flows
– The emotions are so visceral throughout, but never feel overdone
– Other than the fact that this book is (for obvious reasons) a hard one to stomach, I can’t think of any
The Little Prince
Author: Antoine de Saint-Exupery (trans. Richard Howard)
Genre: children’s fiction, classic, fantasy
Narrator: eh, he was okay. His accent caused him to really “spit out” the “pr” sound at the start of the word “prince,” though, which was kind of jarring when listening and broke a little bit of the spell.
Plot summary (in 10 words or fewer): Lost space prince meets pilot in desert, life lessons ensue.
My rating: 4.5/5 stars
– The blend of whimsy and philosophy here really drove home messages about doing what you want to do and pursuing more than just wealth in your life
– A prince who loves a rose and is worried about sheep and is friends with a poisonous snake and is fascinated by baobab trees and…? Just so many charming details
– Unlike The Alchemist, another popular book that has some similar themes, this one didn’t feel so aggressively in-your-face about them
– Basically, I totally understand why this book is so beloved among children and adults everywhere
– The narrator’s voice annoyed me, as I mentioned above
– I wish some of it could be longer! I want more adventures of the prince! I want to hear more about what happened in space and about all the other kingdoms!
Over the Top
Author: Jonathan Van Ness
Genre: nonfiction, memoir, LGBTQ+
Narrator: the author himself–and honestly, I can’t imagine this story working if it were narrated by anyone else, or even if I read it on paper. Jonathan’s sassy voice adds something extra to this story.
Plot summary (in 10 words or fewer): Queer Eye star: where he came from, what he overcame.
My rating: 3/5 stars
TRIGGER/CONTENT WARNINGS: child sexual assault, drug abuse/addiction, sex addiction, cancer, homophobia, HIV
– Jonathan holds nothing back; he is blunt about everything, good or bad, and emphasizes why this candor is so important to him
– Holy crap, I never would have guessed how much shit he had to go through over the course of his life, given how bubbly his personality usually appears–the amount of resilience he has shown cannot be overstated
– Unsurprisingly, he is hilarious, even when he acknowledges that humor is part of how he deflects from hard things. There is one point where, before getting into something really dark/heavy, he interrupts the story to read the entirety of a paper he wrote when he was in elementary school about the Bill Clinton/Monica Lewinsky scandal.
– This book has some really important messages for gay adults and teens especially, as well as for anyone who wants to support the gay men in their life
– Calling it inspiring sounds cheesy, but seeing his perseverance and ultimate success after putting in so much work is awesome
– Sometimes, Jonathan is prone to rambling, and that made him come across as unfocused, messing with the flow and pacing a lot
– The number of times he used the phrase “share my truth” started grating on my nerves. That sounds small, but it was more about how often he broke from the story to basically say, “Hey, again, this is why I wrote this book” instead of leaving that just to the intro/conclusion and otherwise making it implicit
– Again, this worked as an audiobook, but I think on paper it would probably have been a hot mess
That’s all for now, folks!
Have you read any of these? Planning to check any of them out soon? Let me know what you think in the comments. Hope everyone is staying well!