cover image The Cloud Chamber

The Cloud Chamber

Joyce Maynard, , read by Joel Johnstone. . Listening Library, $30 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-307-24559-5

Johnstone's spot-on preteen tone and easygoing, heartfelt delivery are a comfortable fit for Maynard's wrenching coming-of-age novel. Nate knew that hard times on their small dairy farm and mounting debt were taking a toll on his family. But he couldn't know that his father's despair would lead him to a suicide attempt. When the police take Nate's dad away after he wounds himself, Nate must face some difficult new realities as he tries to figure out what really happened that day and deal with the people who turn on him and his family. Mom and little sister Junie worry what lies ahead, but Nate figures that things will surely improve if he can win a spot in the state science fair—which happens to be held near the hospital where his father is recuperating. Throughout, Johnstone's Nate never lets listeners forget how much the boy steadfastly loves and admires his dad, and hopes for a happy ending—even when everything else in life is a painful jumble. Ages 12-up. (June)