A fantastic lesbian young adult audiobook
Penelope ‘Pen’ Olivera is a teenager attending a Catholic high school and not following gender norms. It’s not easy to live in a small community in Ontario, Canada with her Catholic parents, who are first-generation Portuguese immigrants, while navigating rejection, experiencing first love, finding loyal friends and trying to discover her own identity.
This was a fantastic lesbian young adult audiobook, no wonder this novel got so many awards, it’s not only superbly written but it’s also a compelling and engaging story. I wish there were books like this when I was growing up but I’m sure that many teenagers will benefit from this book and feel that they are not alone in not conforming to gender stereotypes or just being different from the majority of people.
Written in first person from the point of view of Pen, the book explores a few months of her life in which she is confronted with either accepting what her parents demand from her or find out who she really wants to be. What impressed me most is that the tone of the novel feels realistic, the characters authentic in their ages and their adolescent personalities, and the dialogues are very natural sounding. It’s funny how teenagers can handle in the same conversation deep meaningful life matters followed by completely trivial issues. The author got this perfectly.
I listened to the audiobook narrated by Emma Galvin, my first experience with this narrator. Ms. Galvin has a youthful ideal voice for this YA novel but despite that, she manages to perform the adult characters acceptably. Her interpretation of feelings is excellent considering this is a very demanding novel especially with the overwhelming and fiery emotions typical of teenagers. I loved her performance of Pen’s mother and father with their heavy accents and exaggerated expressions. Coming from a loud Italian family myself, it feels totally authentic. I found that sometimes the girls’ voices were too similar but the result was compensated with a very good interpretation. Ms. Galvin brings this fantastic text to life outstandingly and I cannot recommend it more for those fans of the genre and even for readers/listeners who want to experience a great story. Included in the Scribd subscription, you’ll get 9 hours of enjoyment.
Overall, a fantastic young adult audiobook recommended even for those who aren’t fans of the genre. 5+ stars for the story and 5 stars for the performance. Average, 5 stars.