Last year, in a discussion with narrator Tavia Gilbert, we learned that she was producing a special audiobook based on the journals and correspondence of a remarkable young woman. Rachel Corrie showed an unusual and precocious ability to communicate via the written word as well as a mature beyond her years sensibility, both from a very young age. Her middle school diary is filled with her poetry that speaks of the injustices in the world as well as lists of what she hates and what makes her angry. In among those lists, which are poems as well, she writes “people who shove on purpose in basketball” followed by “the Anita Hill-Clarence Thomas case”. As a young adult, Rachel’s zeal took her to the Gaza Strip where she joined an international group of activists who stood by Palestinian families attempting to defend their homes from destruction by the Israel Defense Forces. In March 2003, Rachel died as she stood a human shield, crushed to death by an armored bulldozer in the southern part of the Gaza Strip.
Tavia told us, “It’s a project I care deeply about, because Rachel and her commitment to social justice and truth are an inspiration. I hope that I can do her justice, and keep her voice alive.”
The Corrie family published Rachel’s diaries and emails first as a play in 2006, then as a book in 2008, illustrated by Rachel’s drawings. The audiobook was scheduled to coincide with the 10th anniversary of her death. The prologue was written by the family and narrated by Ed Asner. His delivery is profound, gruff as you would expect but tender and loving as he tells us about this amazing girl and her dreams and then her tragic death. Tavia read the opening poems – mostly from around 1988-1993 – in a credible prepubescent voice, punctuated by the dates of the entries. As Rachel matures, the entries go from thoughtful poems to more angsty young adult rants and raves of every day life, showing us that Rachel, in addition to her gift of writing and her understanding of the injustices in the world, was also a normal teen, with college woes, and parent woes, and boyfriend woes. Once she decides to become an active force for justice by going overseas, her poetry is replaced with forceful press releases to stateside media as well as impassioned emails to her mother, interspersed once again with her lists. This time her lists are of possibilities – what to do when she leaves Rafah, potential sources of money. She speaks often of the danger the tanks pose, how the soldiers are shooting at even the “internationals” and not just the Palestinians. During this section, Tavia’s voice has morphed from the idealistic young girl to the impassioned and articulate young woman, arguing with her mother in one-sided emails and sending short missives to local friends.
This isn’t romance; there is no happy ending for Rachel. There is the silver lining that now we audiobook listeners can share her experience and be lifted up by her resolve. Major kudos to Tavia Gilbert for keeping Rachel’s words and actions alive through this moving and emotional recording.
This audiobook was provided to AudioGals for review by Blackstone Audio.