From Johnny Tremain to the Moon

5th grade  –  Corse Elementary School  –  Ms. Miller’s class  –  second row over, fourth seat back…

I sat staring out the window, my body full from lunch and warmed from recess and now I listen to Ms. Miller’s deep, strong, full voice tell the story of one boy’s journey amidst the American Revolution… and I fall in love with Johnny, history, silversmithing and the written word read aloud.

All my life I have been read to…from my parents, brothers and sister, to teachers and friends.  For most of us we think of being read to as something only parents do with young children, but in my life the written word read aloud is everyday…

Yes, I read to my boys before nap and bed, but also at least one a week a Bible story is read aloud for me. You can often find a book in the car when Leonel and I go on long trips and just this past Thanksgiving my family sat around reading aloud enneagram types and their history.  It’s also not uncommon to see me grab a book from a shelf during any gathering and read a passage relevant to the current conversation.

The written word is powerful and I love to read, but the written word read aloud, brought to life (dare I say, incarnated) by voice, tenor, personality and intonation holds a special place in my heart.  The performance of the written word has its own power to make or break a story…that’s what Ms. Miller taught me so long ago with Johnny Tremain and that was the power Rosario Dawson’s Audible performance brought to Andy Weir’s latest novel about a city on the moon, Artemis.  

Dawson brought Jazz, Weir’s protagonist to life for me! At the beginning, I was a little concerned about liking Jazz and Weir’s ability to write from the perspective of a well rounded woman, but about a third of the way through the book I found Jazz an endearing and believable character and I was rooting for her.  Weir’s narrative had me caught up in the science and skills it was going to take to get Jazz out of her mess.  But it was Dawson’s performance that made Jazz’s dialogue, which on paper could be easily be read as stale, awkward, unimaginative and perhaps even as “trying too hard,” work!  Dawson’s performance brought Jazz to life and gave her a voice that felt authentic and appropriate for her.

I was swept up in these characters, this time, place and story that I wasn’t expecting to like in large part to Dawson’s reading.  Was it all a little formulaic with well worn archetypes? Sure, but every once in a while I love a good novel that doesn’t have to be more than what it sets out to be…an informative and entertaining diversion.   Thanks to Dawson and Weir, each time my boys look up pointing and yelling “luna” (moon in Spanish) I think I’ll hear the voice of Jazz in my head saying, “Artemis, my home.”

My Goodreads Review