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2015 Diversity Reading Challenge Books

The Only Ones by Carola Dibbell a ListenUp Audio review

Every once in a while a book comes along and BAM! You lose your mind over it.  That’s what happened to me with The only Ones by Carola Dibbell. The gracious folks at ListenUp audiobooks shared this little gem with me and I’m smitten. SMITTEN!

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Please don’t let the cover throw you off.  If you like spec fic like I do, this is the book for you! Young Inez lives in a post apocalyptic New York City where people are dying from diseases. Check it out:

Inez wanders a post-pandemic world, strangely immune to disease, making her living by volunteering as a test subject. She is hired to provide genetic material to a grief-stricken, affluent mother, who lost all four of her daughters within four short weeks. This experimental genetic work is policed by a hazy network of governmental ethics committees, and threatened by the Knights of Life, religious zealots who raze the rural farms where much of this experimentation is done.

When the mother backs out at the last minute, Inez is left responsible for the product, which in this case is a baby girl, Ani. Inez must protect Ani, who is a scientific breakthrough, keeping her alive, dodging authorities and religious fanatics, and trying to provide Ani with the childhood that Inez never had, which means a stable home and an education.

So…Inez makes a living as a test subject.  She’s kind of like a hooker for genetic material.  Unreal! There’s talk of genetic testing the likes you can only dream of: cloning, test tube babies, etc, it’s VERY CLEVER! Inez becomes a good mother. No wait, scratch that and EXCELLENT mother and is tender, funny, and oh so relatable. I mean, who knows what the heck they’re doing when they first become a parent?

Inez appears to be of Hispanic descent, although she doesn’t know her true identity. Inez is named after the bus stop where she was found and the last name of the woman who cared for her: Inez Casina Fardo. Excuse the spelling but I love the idea of where the name comes from. After all, what’s in a name? An atypical Hispanic woman? Definitely a Diversity Challenge book!

The best bit about the audiobook is the narrator. She has this New York accent that at times grates my nerves so bad (as many NY accents do) but is so believable I can’t imagine the book being read in any other voice. Period.

This book ranks right up there with Ready Player One for me. Plus, it’s not that difficult to imagine a post pandemic NYC.

By Pam

My passion is advocating for diversity in children's and YA literature.

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