cover image Stephen Florida

Stephen Florida

Gabe Habash, read by Will Damron. HighBridge Audio, 12 hrs., $34.99 ISBN 978-1-68168-649-3

This debut novel by PW deputy reviews editor Habash unfolds mostly in the mind of the title character, a Division IX college wrestler who is entering his senior year at a community college in the fictional town of Aiken, N.Dak. Stephen is an odd, angry young man, an orphan raised by his grandmother, totally obsessed with winning wrestling trophies and with the sexual satisfaction denied him by his wrestling coach’s rules. For the audiobook, voice actor Damron treats the wrestling match descriptions like a professional announcer, adding color to performance and helping listeners stay attuned. He channels Stephen’s anger, anguish, and soul-searching and gives character to Stephen’s few acquaintances, like a college professor who may have murdered his wife, a coach who’s generally off the wall, and his on-again, off-again girlfriend, Mary Beth. For the most part, it’s a straightforward listening experience that relies on the strength of Habash’s prose. A Coffee House hardcover. (June)