Told in alternating perspectives by a varied and vocal cast of characters, Nussbaum pulls back the curtain to reveal the complicated and funny and tough life inside the walls of an institution for juveniles with disabilities. From Yessenia Lopez, who dreams of her next boyfriend and of one day of living outside those walls, to Teddy, a resident who dresses up daily in a full suit and tie, to Mia, who guards a terrifying secret, Nussbaum has crafted a multifaceted portrait of a way of life hidden from most of us.
In this isolated human warehouse on Chicago's South Side, friendships are forged, trust is built, and love affairs begin. And it's in their alliances that the residents ultimately find the strength to bond together and finally fight back against their mistreatment.
Told with humor and authenticity in voices that stay with you long past the last moments, Good Kings Bad Kings is at once strikingly original, baldly funny, and profoundly moving.
Performed by an ensemble cast, with Chris Delaine (Joanne Madsen), Lauren Fortgang (Michelle Volkmann), Emma Galvin (Yessenia Lopez), Alexander Cendese (Teddy Dobbs), David Ledoux (Ricky Hernandez), Karen Murray (Jimmie Kendrick), and Daya Mendez (Mia Oviedo).
©2013 Susan Nussbaum. Recorded by arrangement with Algonquin Books of Chapel hill, a Division of Workman Publishing Company, Inc. (P)2013 HighBridge Company
"This is fiction at its best. The story's sharp eye allows no one to take shelter, and it doesn't flinch, it is simply and breathtakingly honest. A stunning accomplishment." (Barbara Kingsolver)
Because I serve people with developmental disabilities in my professional life, I was intrigued to listen to this award-winning book. Different narrators voice the different characters and do so with the liveliness of actual stage performances. I loved it!
The whole book was well plotted and the little "reveals" about each character were all memorable.
I have to say I liked them all!
I thoroughly enjoyed this audio selection. The story centers around disabled kids and staff in a nursing home set outside Chicago. The story is compelling, realistic and yet upbeat. Each chapter is narrated from a single point of view and the chapters rotate between different lead characters. The story progresses in a linear fashion but some of the most painful details are revealed after the fact by the speaker in the next chapter. The author reveals the flaws and foibles of the main characters but you love them and root for them anyway. The multi-narrator audio production was top notch. It really enhanced the experience and made the characters that much more real. I will remember this book for a long time to come.
Difficult and challenging but good. Took me more than one try to really get into it. The voices are original. Funny in painful, awkward growth spurt ways. Tackles unlovability, unreliability, unresolved issues, and neglect from personal points of view. But it's not just about the lives of the people living in the ward, it's also about the good and bad people who work there. Sick people mistreated in the ward was a topic covered well by the author. I remember one girl in particular whose voice sticks with me.. She couldn't tell on her rapist, it was up to the counselors and nurses to put it together, as she was so afraid. I guess some things were a little difficult to listen to but only because the victims were more helpless, being mistreated by the people supposed to care for them. A lot of the kids in the ward felt abandoned, like their parents didn't want them because they were handicapped. Also, narration was good with many voices, all effective.
good short listen - offers a unique prospective on living in an institution from every angel. Acept the patents wish would there was more from there pointe of view.
Social consciousness raising
I enjoyed the multiple narratives, although this did create an episodic story rather than one that flowed. It does not surprise me that the author is also a playwright. It was almost like listening to a reading of a script by the cast of actors.
All of the narrators were excellent. It would be difficult to select a favorite character, although I'd say Jessinia and Ricky were especially likable.
Say something about yourself!
The descriptions of the situations the young people were forced into were very good. Since I have worked with children that have challenging behaviors, emotional disabilities and the like, I know about some of these awful experiences.
I appreciated the different accents--although knowing children with cognitive and intellectual disabilities--the words and sentences were so far from what a person would ever hear--if he or she were in a position to converse with the youth.
I can't imagine this--no.
I wish the author would have continued writing the book with a more indepth look into what was going on in the institution--the one that housed the youth. She had so many different problems coming into focus and then letting them just fade without adequately justifying all the details and hoopla--e.g. the woman with physical disabilities that worked at ILSI--we get to know her so well and understand her role in the story--and then she gets fired and boom--she's gone.
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