Alternate titles: Janssen is Always Right or A Review of The Wednesday Wars and Code Name Verity
If you've ever read any of my book posts, you know I read whatever Janssen tells me (and the rest of the blogosphere. I'm not that special) to read. And if you've ever read Janssen's blog, you know that she likes The Wednesday Wars by Gary D. Schmidt and Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein. I'm sorry - she loves them. But for some reason, I have checked out both of those books from the library multiple times, on Janssen's suggestion, without ever actually reading them. Why? I guess I hate good literature? Idk, but I never got around to reading them.
Then, Janssen blogged about her favorite audiobooks (to which I'm addicted) around the same time Audible.com offered me two credits to their website.
Kismet? I thought so.
First, I listened to The Wednesday Wars by Gary D. Schmidt, which is about a middle-school boy living on Long Island during 1967 and 1968. Holling Hoodhood is the only non-Jewish or non-Catholic 7th grader in his school, so while all his classmates are at Hebrew school or catechism class on Wednesday afternoons, Holling was left behind with his teacher. And Holling is convinced this teacher hates him. Why else would she make him read Shakespeare? With that premise, Gary D. Schmidt weaves an incredible tale of growing up juxtaposed with Shakespeare's finest plays and the events that rocked America in those years (Vietnam War, assassinations of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Bobby Kennedy). We see Holling learn what it means to love, to be a friend, to be family, and to be a man as he grows through the 7th grade. Additionally, the narration for this audiobook is fantastic. On more than one occasion I went from laughing out loud to holding back tears. So many tears! Honestly, I cannot say enough good things about this book. Do as Janssen commands, and read it.
Second, I listened to Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein. Set in World War II, Code Name Verity follows the friendship of two women, one a British spy and one an RAF pilot. The book opens as Julie, the spy, after being captured and tortured by Nazis in France, decides to write down any and all information she knows for the Nazis. She goes back, detailing her how she and Maddie, the pilot, meet, become friends, and get involved in the war effort. The second half of the book is narrated by Maddie, fleshing out the story Julie has written and completing the tale. I really can't say anything else without giving away spoilers. Even though the beginning is a little bit slow, you must read this rich, layered novel. I'm going to have to reread this book to even start to understand the double-meanings, symbols, and references in this highly-entertaining book. And yes, more tears and more laughter.
Now, a bit on the Audible.com app. Up until now, I've only used the library app to listen to audiobooks on my phone, and it's adequate. Nothing special, no features. Furthermore, my library's cache of digital audiobooks is alright but missing many that I search for. Then, I used the Audible.com app and boy, howdy! That is one mighty fine audiobook app! Audible.com had every audiobook I could ever want, and the app itself was a dream to use. The various features were vast and fun to mess around with. For example, on that app, I learned the beauty of listening at 1.25x speed (1x speed is too slow while 1.5x makes the voices funny. 1.25x? Heaven.), and the interface was down-right pretty. Basically, I will never say no to an Audible.com gift card. *hint, hint*
To end, a word of caution - do NOT listen to The Wednesday Wars and Code Name Verity in public!!! All of my audiobook listening time is while I walk or run the streets of New York, and that was a BAD choice! Too many times my chin quivered and tears welled in my eyes as I walked home along Park Avenue, repeatedly thinking "Keep it together, Ricks! Keep it together!" Spare yourself the humiliation, and listen to these beautiful, moving books in the privacy of your own home.
Disclosure: Audible.com gave me the credits free of charge, but any and all opinions are my own.
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