Tuesday, July 5, 2016
Save Me A Seat - an audiobook review
by Sarah Weeks and Gita Varadarajan
Read by Josh Hurley and Vikas Adam
This is a perfect middle grade novel for highlighting how easily one can mischaracterize another's words or actions. It's also an inside look at the immigrant and disability experience. Teachers, you should read this one and share it with your students!
I reviewed Save Me a Seat for AudioFile Magazine. The book spans only five days in fifth grade, the first week of school at Einstein Elementary School in Hamilton, NJ. Its sections are titled with the school lunch of the day —Chicken Fingers, Hamburgers, etc., and chapters alternate between Joe, a boy with auditory processing disorder (APD) and Ravi, a recent immigrant from India. Both boys are targets of the school bully—Joe, because of his disability, and Ravi because of his heavily accented English (which he himself cannot hear) and his family's style of food, dress, and manners.
Although Ravi was a favored, top-ranked student in his native Bangalore, India, his accent and lack of knowledge about his new country land him in the resource room at Einstein Elementary. Joe also visits the resource room to learn coping skills for his APD. Initially, Ravi views Joe with disdain —mistaking the outward signs of his disability for stupidity.
In each chapter, the boys recount the same scene, allowing the reader or listener to fully understand how our perception of an event is shaped by our cultural, family, and personal background. I'm sure that the printed book is wonderful as well, but the use of dual narrators in the audiobook really hammers home the differing perspectives.
Read my complete review of Save Me a Seat for AudioFile Magazine here. (An audio excerpt is also available at the same link, however, it only features the character Ravi, read by Vikas Adam.)
Read other reviews of Save Me a Seat and an interview with the authors at Sarah Weeks' website.
I recently began working in a library with many new Indian-American families, and reading Save Me a Seat was enlightening. The challenges involved in adapting to a new country are many and cannot be overlooked. I'm so glad I listened to this one!