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Unbecoming Audiobook, by Jenny Downham Extended Sample Click for printable size audiobook cover
Author: Jenny Downham Narrator: Jenny Downham Publisher: Scholastic Inc Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: May 2016 ISBN: 9780545945905
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Three women. Three generations. Three secrets.

Katie’s life is falling apart. Her best friend thinks she’s a freak; her mother, Caroline, controls every aspect of her life; and her estranged grandmother, Mary, appears as if out of nowhere.

Mary has dementia and needs lots of care, and when Katie starts putting together Mary’s life story, secrets and lies are uncovered: Mary’s illegitimate baby, her zest for life and freedom and men; the way she lived her life to the full yet suffered huge sacrifices along the way. As the relationship between Mary and Caroline is explored, Katie begins to understand her own mother’s behavior, and from that insight, the terrors about her sexuality, her future, and her younger brother are all put into perspective.

Funny, sad, honest, and wise, this powerful multigenerational novel from author Jenny Downham celebrates life like no book before.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “This life-affirming story about a complicated family…is stunningly told.”

    Times (London)

  • “A beautifully drawn portrait…hugely ambitious in its interwoven examination of sexual identity, family secrets, torn loyalties, and the life-affirming power of breaking away from suffocating conventions.”

    Daily Mail (London)

  • “Extraordinary.”

    Publishers Weekly (starred review)

  • “Her prose gets right down inside human fragility, tenderness, fury, gusto, and strength—leaving sweet, sharp images that are impossible to forget. Exceptional.”

    Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

  • “Offers implicit commentary on the historical and contemporary constraints on young women’s lives and their freedom to love with abandon.”

    Horn Book Guide (starred review)

  • “Paints a moving picture of three generations of women who haven’t felt listened to or understood, who have felt confined by their choices, and who have suffered the consequences of trying to forge a new path…A strong choice for thoughtful readers.”

    School Library Journal

  • “Author-narrator Jenny Downham distinguishes the lives of three family members, never losing a sense of time or character…Downham reveals roiling emotions that existed inside Katie…[and] just as convincingly, Downham captures Mary’s chaotic memories and enduring guilt and Caroline’s painful memories of the past. Downham’s successful dramatization of the characters and their secrets evokes varying perspectives on memory and honesty.”


  • A London Times Pick for Children's Book of the Week
  • A Kirkus Reviews Pick for Best Teen Books of 2016

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About the Author

Jenny Downham is a critically acclaimed novelist. Her debut novel, Before I Die, was shortlisted for numerous awards in the United Kingcom, including the Guardian Award and the Lancashire Children’s Book of the Year, nominated for the Carnegie Medal and the Booktrust Teenage Prize, and was the winner of the Branford Boase Award. Before I Die was made into a movie in 2012 called Now Is Good and starring Dakota Fanning in 2012.