Did you know NPR’s This American Life turned 20 this year ? I’ve been binge listening to the podcast and since I blog about books I decided to pair nine episodes of TAL with with some amazing YA books because sometimes life is stranger than fiction.
YA Novel: Like No Other by Una LaMarche
TAL Episode: My Experimental Phase – Act I
Both of these stories are about Hasidic youths exploring the world outside of their communities. Like No Other is the story of a relationship between a Hasidic girl and a West Indian-American boy in Brooklyn. The first act of this TAL episode tells the story of a young Hasidic man who ends up in the Brooklyn glam rock scene.
YA Novel: Tears of A Tiger by Sharon Draper
TAL Episode: The Alibi
The Alibi is the first episode of Sara Koeing’s popular podcast , Serial, the true crime story about the murder of Hae Men Lee. Tears of a Tiger isn’t about a murder, but like Serial we get a glimpse of the aftermath of a teenage death told through the memories of their classmates and community.
YA Novel: Noggin by John Corey Whaley
TAL Episode: Mistakes Were Made – Act I
This episode gave me chills (I know, I know). This TAL episode is about what happens to a man tasked with caring for those who have been cryogenically frozen. And it goes horribly, horribly wrong . I think the story of Noggin is the future members of this cryonic society would have wanted.
YA Novel: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
TAL Episode: Show Me The Way – Act I
Hazel and Gus travel across the pond to meet their favorite author Peter Van Houten and in this story a man recounts how at 15-years-old he traveled 1,000 miles to meet his favorite fantasy author Piers Anthony–using nothing but Anthony’s books as a guide.
YA Novel: Things I Can’t Forget by Miranda Kenneally
TAL Episodes: Heretics
This American Life seems to love stories of people grappling with their faith much like Kate does in Things I Can’t Forget. This TAL episode captured me the most because this pastor has a complete 180 on his theological beliefs and loses everything for it. Bonus Episode : God Said, Huh. comedian Julia Sweeney reads the Bible for the first time and what she finds is surprising.
YA Novel: Dream Things True by Marie Marquardt
TAL Episodes:No Place Like Home – Act I
Dream Things True is the story of a teenagers’ family who was brought over illegally from Mexico by Coyotajes. The first act of this TAL piece is about the Caminata Nocturna–an illegal border crossing simulation run by former Coytajes–in Mexico. As entertainment. His storytelling is so vivid of the simulation. I was half-listening to this episode of TAL and it caught me off guard with its big reveal.
YA Novel: We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
TAL Episodes:Need to Know Basis – Act II
We Were Liars and Need To Know Basis are both about extended family, hard truths and the things families don’t say out loud. Even more so both stories feature a girl who realizes the things she came to believe about her family look very different after a big reveal.
YA Novel: Everybody Sees The Ants
TAL Episode:Comedians of Christmas
This episode is a hilarious recording of a TAL live show. While none of the comedians were given guidelines, all three of the male comedians did a piece about their mothers. Everybody Sees The Ants is one of the few books where
much of the conflict is seen between a mother and son’s relationship.
YA Novel: The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen
TAL Episode: Image Makers – Act I
This episode is all about re-imagining people and places. In the early 2000’s a librarian re-imagined the library as a venue for a rock concert. The reporter does a lot of interviews with the rock band, High Strung, talking about why they agreed to perform in libraries for a summer and all I could think about was the band, Truth Squad, from This Lullaby. They’re both just a group of guys living in a van as they travel across the country playing shows.