The Full Catastrophe

OrangeSky Audio. Aug. 2022. 10:14 hrs. ISBN 9781667071664. $24.99. F
Charlie Minkoff is a 13-year-old intersex boy born with XX chromosomes who is coming of age in Winnipeg, Canada. Charlie lives in a converted candy factory with his mother, Jules, a mute artist who is currently occupied with creating a functional art installation on the frozen Assiniboine River. Jules is mostly absent from Charlie’s life, but Charlie is not alone, as he finds support from his maternal grandfather, Oscar, a Holocaust survivor who showers him with love and the “wisdom of the fathers.” Charlie’s life is full of major and minor catastrophes, including his impending puberty, first crush, and physical differences, which make school so hard. Instead of dwelling on hardships, however, Charlie focuses on arranging his grandfather’s overdue bar mitzvah. Narrator Josh Bloomberg accomplishes the fantastic feat of populating Charlie’s world, bringing out the vivid personalities of his friends and family. Bloomberg’s delivery of Cook’s (Nightwatching) dialogue is pitch-perfect and gorgeous.
VERDICT This tender and affirming audio is a must-listen. Recommend to listeners who enjoyed Douglas Stewart’s Shuggie Bain and Jeffrey Eugenides’s Middlesex.
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