Kyle Stilleno is the invisible student, toiling through high school in the middle of Nowhere, Texas. Brad Greymark is the baseball star of Foster High. When they bond over their mutual damage during a night of history tutoring, Kyle thinks maybe his life has changed for good. But the promise of fairy-tale love is a lie when you're gay and falling for the most popular boy in school. A coming of age story in the same vein of John Hughes, Tales from Foster High shows an unflinching vision of the ups and downs of teenage love and what it is like to grow up gay.
This was a truly enjoyable high school coming out/coming of age story. Think of it as a gay John Hughes film. The author is a real fan of John Hughes and obviously cares a great deal about the challenges gay teenagers face in high school. Some would say this isn't a YA book. I have to disagree. The sex scenes in this book are no where as graphic as in traditional gay romance. And if I remember correctly, nothing that the average teenager not only knows about, but much milder. It wasn't a perfect book and the narrator doesn't give a lot of diversity to the characters, but he does do a good job at lending depth and emotion to the story. But be warned, he does sound like a high school kid, which is what the story needed. Absolutely worth a credit.
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Maybe With A Chance of Certainty (book 1)
I bought this book (and the rest of the series) and obviously started with this one first - duh! I read and LOVED it. Then I had the chance to listen to the audio version. And WOW!
If I thought I enjoyed the story the first time round, the audio version just improved on it. The narrator, Michael Stellman, enhances the story and takes nothing away. It was so interesting to compare my thoughts on the story from my own reading experience versus my thoughts from the listening experience. Sometimes the narrator's voice and style doesn't match the characters I have built in my head but this one hit the nail on the head - brilliant! Michael Stellman's voice captured Kyle perfectly with a real sense of youth and emotion.
I loved the style of writing and characters were totally wonderful. I loved the emotion and challenge of growing up. I loved the nerd and the jock facing life head on. I loved public confrontations and grand gestures. But most of all I loved the strength and honesty.
I wouldn't usually come right out and recommend an audio book over the ebook or print edition (I'm a bit old-school that way and prefer the characters in my head) but this is the reverse for me. I actually originally rated the written book as a 4/4.5 but it is now a definite 5 and moving to my favourites shelf!
End of the Beginning (Book 2)
This is the second book in the series and part of the Tales From Foster High audio book so I listened to rather than read this book. As with the first book, I LOVED this is it's audio form. The narrator's voice was just brilliant, catching the teenage voice of Brad.
Here we have Brad's point of view as he agonises over the events of the past couple of days. Coming out in front of the whole school was a spur of the moment decision and Brad wonders if he made the right choice. It was sad to watch him go from the top of the school social ladder to pretty much the bottom but his strength lay in how he handled himself.
It's such an interesting look at the real person behind the facade. Brad may have had the looks, the status, his sporting prowess, a big home and a nice car but this didn't make him happy in his heart. I loved the character development in this story.
Raise Your Glass (Book 3)
When times get tough, you really find out what people are made of and in this book Brad and Kyle totally shine, particularly Kyle who is no longer a wall flower and very much the centre of attention.
The experiences the boys go through as they return to school are heartbreaking. As to be expected, the reaction from the other students is not positive and Brad and Kyle are tormented for their sexuality. But it is the reaction of the adults - the teachers and authority figures - that is the most shameful. This is tough look at what life can be like for young people who don't conform to what other people deem as being acceptable - bullying and lack of support. But there is a positive ending as support comes from some unexpected places.
I liked the message from the author at the end of the book, an anti-bullying message, to remind people they are never alone and remind us, the reader, that although this story is a work of fiction, bullying is an all too common occurrence that can have tragic consequences.
I cannot speak more highly of Michael Stellman. He did a wonderful job of narrating Tales from Foster High and I believe his voice is perfectly suited to the telling of a YA story.
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If you could sum up Tales From Foster High in three words, what would they be?
Angsty teen love.
Who was your favorite character and why?
Brad. When the story starts it's told from Kyle's POV, and Brad was the stereotypical, perfect, popular jock. But when the story switches to Brad's POV, you see all the cracks and how broken he really is.
Which scene was your favorite?
When they kissed for the first time. The fact that Brad's nose was bleeding at the time was a bit gross, but it's definitely a scene that sticks with you.
Any additional comments?
I love Michael Stellman's narration, but there are definitely sound quality issues with this one. The echo and background noise in some parts were quite noticeable depending on the kind of headphones you use. It sounds better on speakers. And there was one part that was repeated twice in the recording (Kyle and Kelly's second fight where Kyle notices other students taking pictures). It made me do a double take because I thought I was imagining it, like déjà vu. But no, that part was just duplicated. It was just one small part of the chapter, though.
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Don't hate me for not loving this book... but I didn't love it. I'm not even sure that I liked it, honestly. I think I did? I don't know, it was all just so angsty.
I've read quite a few books that reminded me of this one (Something Like Summer, Pictures of You), and they were all angsty as F. In fact, I could tell a few plot points were coming before they were hinted at because I had a mental checklist of painful YA M/M going on in my head.
My main issue with this book was the inconsistencies with the primary and secondary characters. The parents were basically shown as evil through most of the story, like really bad, until, all of the sudden, they weren't. Brad was a good guy sometimes and other times I wanted to beat him senseless. I got stuck on a lot of the details.
While the story enthralled me and kept me going, it was also painfully sad. I was depressed while listening and depressed when I finished. I'm certainly not going to continue with the series.
The narration of this book was lovely, however I always get stuck on the fact that Michael Stellman can only do one voice. It's a nice voice, but it's just one tone, one character.
I'm trying to stay positive about the story and remember all the good things and my gut 3-star rating, but when I think back on the story, I'm not bringing up fond memories. I guess this series just isn't for me.
*Audiobook ARC provided for review*
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John Goode has an agenda: to stop bullying! Besides some clever references to pop culture sometimes spoken with acid sarcasm, Tales From Foster High also manages to fight at least one stereotype: victims of bullying never fight back, because they do in this book. The #1 emotion expressed most frequently is teenage angst, some of it over-baked. Nonetheless, I enjoyed the story. My one niggle with an otherwise excellent narration done by Michael Stellman (oops, make that two), given that the story takes place in a small Texas town, we never get any hint of a Texan drawl from any character. It could have taken place in Arizona or California and maybe that was intentional. Also, my copy of the audio at times had some annoying reverb, again, not the narrator's doing, just a technical glitch I suppose.
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There were too many unsolved problems in this story for me to give it more than 3.5 stars. The performance from Michael Staleman was pretty decent, but I felt really let down by the ending. The story touches on a lot of key issues and felt very current, but instead of feeling like I wanted more...I was left feeling empty. Almost like I spent seven hours listening to some school boy summarize his high school career for a term paper. No emotion, no resolution, no life. Just a bunch of bits of information thrown together. It has the potential to be so much more and then just stopped. Almost like the author has a heart attack and the never got around to finishing the story before meeting his demise. Too bad.
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Loved the story.
narration was good a little quite compared to other narrators.
hope the author has many more stories like this!
Would you consider the audio edition of Tales From Foster High to be better than the print version?
Michael Stellman brings the characters to reality. This audio is so well done with each character voice having a unique personality that matches the person. He really captures the snarky humor that John puts in their thoughts.
What does Michael Stellman bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?
This is an excellent book and Michael really enhances the voice on the pages.
If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?
A Day In The Life of Foster High
Any additional comments?
John has brought school life into this story so well that as someone well beyond those days, it really brought me back to those days. His insight into the politics of school on all levels and the small town community is perfectly portrayed. This is a book to keep for future re-listening/reading.
Loved the characters & story line of the book. Very realistic in the subject matter written about. The narrator's voice is a tad odd compared to others I have listened to so be forewarned. But great listen overall. Highly recommend it!!
This was a good coming of age story but from the level of cruelty, physical assaults, and the down right injustice Brad and Kyle went through, I felt the threat of legal action towards the school was not enough. The speech Brad gave was passionate but made no sense, seeing as most of the school was against him and anyone like him. This story ended without any true consequences to the faculty or the bullies and that left an empty feeling at the end.
💖Michael Stillman 💖was superb as usual and his voice was perfect as Kyle and Brad.🙃
Love the story, and the narrator is just fine - the audio quality itself isn't that good, it's too "loud/shrill".