Hey, Kiddo by Jarrett J. Krosoczka [in Booklist]
Sure, the book is great. But the audio? It’s some sort of spectacular. In October 2018, bestselling Jarrett J. Krosoczka debuted his graphic memoir – about being raised by his grandparents when his single mother’s heroin addiction made her an unreliable parent; it was a 2018 National Book Award finalist and garnered all manner of additional lauds.
Before the audiobook appeared a year later, Krosoczka had already staged multiple live readings. His original 10 performers multiplied into a 40-plus cast in the full recording, with even a few character carryovers, including Krosoczka’s friend Jeanne Birdsall (The Penderwicks series) as his grandmother Shirl, his daughter Zoe as his younger self, and his daughter’s classmate Jaiden Meltzer as the tween Jarrett.
Seasoned narrators took on the most primary roles: Jenna Lamia convincingly becomes his mother, Leslie, and Richard Ferrone is fabulous as his grandfather Joe. The other original seven remained involved in adjusted iterations. Three of Krosoczka’s childhood teachers, Aunt Holly, Aunt Lynn, and Uncle Steve appear as themselves; his best friend, Pat, is voiced by both Pat and Pat’s son Seamus, who reads Pat’s younger self. Perhaps most affecting of all is the appearance of Krosoczka’s father, who replays the difficult father/son reunion after 17 estranged years.
In a production that is meticulously produced and spellbinding to experience, Krosoczka’s challenging childhood becomes a cathartic, captivating friends-and-family aural affair to remember.