Last Night at the Telegraph Club

Listening Library. Jan. 2021. 1,226p. $75. ISBN 9780593341650.
.r 9 Up–Chinese American Lily lives in San Francisco’s Chinatown in the 1950s and chafes against the societal and family norms enforced on her. When she gets to know Kath, a classmate whom she had never paid attention to before, her world opens up in unexpected ways. Together the 17-year-old girls visit a risqué nightclub and discover new friends and ideas. Political tensions from the 1950s—communism and McCarthyism, racial discrimination, and homophobia—color the audio with authenticity and a deeper historical meaning. Read by Emily Woo Zeller, who narrates in a quiet, restrained way, the audio immerses listeners in Lily’s world. Zeller voices each character distinctly and with personality. Lily’s confusion and angst as she tries to balance this new way of life with her traditional upbringing and familial expectations are performed with compassion. Historical time lines and flashbacks to Lily’s parents as teens appear throughout. A lengthy author’s note completes the well-researched recording, with historical context and the author’s personal ties to the story.
VERDICT Highly recommended. This 2021 YA National Book Award winner does not disappoint.

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