The Tryout

Scholastic Audio. Feb. 2023. 209p. $24.99. ISBN 9781338876055.
Gr 3-7–“I never planned to write a book like this,” two-time Newbery Honoree Soontornvat reveals in her author’s note. But with steady curiosity about her small-town Texas youth, she realized she “had a story that needed to be told. And maybe somewhere out there was a young person who needed to read it.” Eager audiences can now listen to an impressive cast perform Soontornvat’s remarkable memoir (which includes that don’t-skip note), released four months after the lauded print debut. “The hardest part of writing this book was being honest about how it felt to deal with racism and my identity as an Asian American.” Biracial Thai American Christina and her Iranian American BFF Megan start seventh grade with the decision to try out for cheerleading. The challenges are many—middle school is bad enough without also being so obviously different—but Soontornvat alchemizes her difficult memories into an empathic, dazzling gift to tween audiences.
VERDICT Nuanced, emotive Li leads a resonant production that further enhances Soontornvat’s already glorious story.

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