Running Barefoot by Amy Harmon (Tantor)

Top Ten Listen of 2014

When I made notes on A Different Blue after finishing my listen, my first thought was “Absolutely wonderful!” It was that delightful surprise we are always hoping to find when trying a new author. The talented Tavia Gilbert is the reason I listened but I stayed as I became intrigued with this beautiful story that contains a romance but centers on a remarkable young woman who doesn’t know her age or parentage but is striking in her confidence and pragmatism about life. The friendship she strikes up with her young British teacher is real (there are no worries here about an inappropriate teacher/student relationship) – the whole audiobook is real. Tavia’s impeccable performance adds another level of enjoyment to this already moving tale. Overall, it is such a refreshing change of pace. Speaking of Audiobooks

Sound Commentary starred review

There is a great deal of sensitivity, understanding and emotion in Tavia Gilbert’s narration, creating appropriate voices for the two adolescents as they deal with the struggles of just being teenagers.  The unique qualities that separate them as well as the unique qualities that draw them to each other are clearly expressed.  Her reading helps listeners to understand what separates them from many of the more conformist young people around them.  The tale is intensely poignant as both teens realize that the difference in their ages prevents them from doing anything about their true feelings for each other.  Josie is heartbroken at Samuel’s departure without even a “Good bye.”  Harmon writes of Josie’s grief and loneliness without becoming melodramatic.  Gilbert makes the listener hope that this “first love” will bring happiness to these two likeable young adults.  Sound Commentary

Once again, narrator Tavia Gilbert delivers a stunning performance. I can honestly say I’ve never been disappointed in any of her narrations. Running Barefoot can be added to the list of incredible work Gilbert has done. Running Barefoot is told in first person, from Josie’s point of view. Gilbert captures the essence of Josie perfectly, both as a brilliant child and a broken woman. Throughout the book, Gilbert allows the listener to get to know Josie intimately. I reveled in the joy she felt when playing the piano, and cried when she lost what was precious to her. Gilbert portrayed her deep sadness, mixed with a determination to go on for the sake of her family with great skill. I found Gilbert’s portrayal of Samuel to be quite wonderful. Harmon lets us know that he has a somewhat stilted quality to his speech. Gilbert brought that to life, causing Samuel to speak in a somewhat flat, halting way that fit the author’s description perfectly. We are also allowed to see just how tortured Samuel really is. He is capable of being open and vulnerable, but only when he’s around Josie. His love for her is plain in every word he speaks. AudioGals