Personal Effects | EM Kokie | Audiobook Review

Why Did I Decide To Listen To Personal Effects:

I actually had EM Kokie’s debut novel Personal Effects in ARC form and had planned to just read the physical copy, but then the publicist for the book had emailed me and was all, hey I am including a surprise audiobook in your package. Because this person has totally baller taste, I freaked the frick out when I opened the package up and saw that Personal Effects on audio was in there . This is because it’s easier for me to fit in audiobooks and so, if I am behind an audiobook really helps. ALSO! ALSO! The narrator is legit my favorite narrater EVER: Nick Podehl. And so, I immediately started the book like the day that I got it and found myself following along with the physical copy.

Personal Effects by EM Kokie | Good Books And Good Wine

What’s The Story Here:

Matt’s brother TJ is killed in action in Iraq. This obviously has a detrimental effect on Matt. He sort of gives up on life — he fails his classes and he fights people. Also, he totally is not getting along with his father. Anyways, his dad won’t let Matt go through TJ’s old things and instead chooses to box them up and seal away that part of his life. I should also let you all know, Matt’s dad is a total hardass. Anyways. So, it’s killing Matt not to be able to go through TJ’s stuff because he seems to think he will find an answer and closure in his things. When Dad heads out for a stretch of time Matt works up the courage to sneak into TJ’s effects. What he finds there leads him on a road trip from his Pennsylvania home to Wisconsin where huge reveals will be had. FYI, no spoilers on those reveals in this review!

What’s Matt Like:

At first, I thought Matt was a total punk. I mean, not like the music genre. Of course, there’s reason for him to cause trouble and not try. Still, I didn’t entirely get why he wanted to enlist after his brother died. Well, now that I write that out and read it over, I guess I can understand. Anyways, I did end up liking Matt and caring about his character although he was sort of a jerk at times. I should also mention there are quite a few moments where I actually really liked the life choices Matt makes and then other times when all I could do was just cringe away.

How Is The Writing:

Kokie is a fabulous writer. I mean as far as male perspective contemporary YA goes, she totally nails the voice. It comes across as authentic and not fake. Down to the things that piss me off about teenage boys (it’s cool, I roomed with dudes in college). She doesn’t shy away from swears or sex or desire and it just all feels so real. There are funny moments within Personal Effects too, which help with the really heavy themes of grief and loss and BIG REVELATIONS. I thought the writing was well balanced. She also did a great job with the side characters, but I won’t name names because you know, no spoilers and all that.

Let’s Talk About The Narration:

Basically the narration was what I had already expected of a work by Nick Podehl — well done, strong diction and elocution, different voices and a voice that matches the pacing of the book. Honestly if you don’t know anything about audiobooks, just know this: Podehl is a total audiobook celebrity and there is a reason for that. If you aren’t sure which audiobook to start with, let me recommend that you start by narrator and check out Podehl’s narrations. I’ve heard him narrate so many books now and it just never gets old. He’s definitely appropriate for Personal Effects by EM Kokie. The audiobook is produced by Brilliance Audio. It is 9 hours and 3 minutes long.

Sum It Up With A GIF:

Kenan and Kel Thumbs Up GIF | Good Books And Good Wine

The ending and how it all plays out is fantastic and legit deserves a thumbs up! Same goes for writing style and characterization.

Disclosure: Review copy provided by publisher (she slipped it in the package as a surprise YAY!)

Other reviews of Personal Effects by EM Kokie:

There’s A Book – “a favorite read of mine this year
Katie’s Book Blog – “really captured the male perspective
Book Chic – “a compelling debut

About April (Books&Wine)

April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.


  1. Glad you liked it. I added the book to my GR To-Read list, but I’m hoping the library will get the audio, so I can check it out!

  2. You know, I listen to audiobooks a ton, but I don’t think I’ve ever listened to one narrated by Nick Podehl. I fell totalyl cheated! Which one should I listen to first that is narrated by him?

  3. You used a Kenan & Kel GIF, and so my (extremely early) morning is made! I love that this book is narrated by a male MC, as we don’t get much of that these days (or at least I don’t). The story sounds pretty heartbreaking, but also hopeful; plus, I’m interested in these reveals you hint at!

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