How to Buy a Love of Reading by Tanya Egan Gibson, narrated by Renee Raudman
Published in Audio by Tantor Audio
Published in Print by Plue, an imprint of Penguin
Carley Wells doesn’t have a whole lot going for her. She’s heavy, not particularly good at school, and not exactly popular in rich and chic Fox Glen. Eager to make her shine for her 16th birthday: they are going to commission an author to write a novel to coordinate with her birthday party theme. The author, Bree McEnroy, has been tasked with writing a book that Carley will love, but as Carley doesn’t think much of books and reading, this may be a more difficult commission than Bree bargained for. Hunter Kay is another complicating factor. As Carley’s best friend and a huge fan of the written word he initially spends a good deal of time helping Bree and Carley’s creative process along, but it becomes increasingly apparent that Hunter’s use of alcohol and prescription drugs is a much bigger problem than he wants to let on – a revelation that has great impact on all of the people around him.
Thoughts on the story:
I am completely amazed that I didn’t absolutely hate each and every character. Everyone, with the exception of the author, Bree McEnroy, had entirely too much money for his or her own good, to the point where frivolous purchasing what the name of the game. I mean, for pete’s sake, Carley’s parents basically bought her a novelist in order to impress their friends and make her look better for colleges. What could be more ridiculous than that? Then there’s the fact that the only things most of the kids in Fox Glen seemed to care about were drugs and sex – maybe being popular and fitting in as well. Really, not much could sound less appealing to me.
And yet, Egan Gibson managed to humanize her main characters to a degree I would not expect, given their most prominent qualities. In fact, I was really impressed with how, not only did I not completely hate the characters, I actually felt sympathy for most of them. And that’s really saying something, because ‘poor little rich girl’ doesn’t usually elicit much sympathy from me. That, in my opinion, is an impressive quality in an author.
Thoughts on the audio production:
I very much enjoyed Renee Raudman’s work narrating “How to Buy a Love of Reading.” I thought that she was well cast in the part, and she gave both life and depth to her characters. And, praises be, she did not interpret them as whiny, as she might have most annoyingly done. Her narration certainly helped keep Egan Gibson’s characters in the realm of surprisingly sympathetic, instead of simply obnoxious spoiled brats.
I was definitely nervous during the first part of this book that I was going to hate the characters so much that I wouldn’t be able to finish it, but I was pleasantly surprised by the depth introduced by Egan Gibson and the way that Raudman’s narration supported the story. Recommended.
Note: although the chief protagonist of the story is a high school girl, “How to Buy a Love of Reading” doesn’t come across as a YA book. I believe that adults, as well as older teens, would enjoy this story.
The audiobook has a similar cover design as the hardcover, but “How to Buy a Love of Reading” was recently released in paperback, with this new cover.
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