Teen Librarian Toolbox
Inside Teen Librarian Toolbox

The Day The Teen Discovered Hoopla and Everything Changed

My library subscribes to Hoopla, a service that I can honestly admit I haven’t used very much – until recently.


This summer we traveled in the car a lot and after we got sick of listening to the same songs over and over again, I remembered Hoopla! So I introduced The Teen – and the family – to Hoopla.

Here’s my true confession: I am not a big audio book listener. I find that I personally tend to wander and lose what is happening in the story unless it is a really engaging story. I also really like music a lot so that’s my go to audio. It just doesn’t occur to me to listen to an audio book.


So as we were driving from Ohio to Texas, we began listening to The Disappearances by Emily Bain Murphy. In this book, every few years (I can’t remember the exact number but I think it is seven), something different disappears from the town. For example, no one in town can see their reflection (and no, they’re not vampires) and they’ve lost the sense of smell. It’s now almost time to find out what this year’s disappearance will be and everyone is understandably on edge. Different people in town have different theories about who – or what – is to blame for the disappearances. And one of the theories blames the mother of Aila, who has just came back to town after her mother has passed away. She is about to learn all of her mother’s deepest, darkest secrets – including about the disappearances, which she hasn’t experienced before.

The Disappearances is eerie and pretty edge of your seat, especially as you get closer and closer to figuring out what everyone will lose this time. And what they do lose is shocking! The Teen, Things 2 and even The Mr. were really into listening to this book as we traveled. In fact, when we got back before it was over everyone had to promise to everyone else that they wouldn’t finish it without them. I’m not saying I broke that promise, but I’m also not saying that I didn’t. We also had great conversations about what we would hate to lose as we tried to guess what the next disappearance would be. As conversation starters go, this book has some pretty interesting ones.


Then The Teen and I began listening to Beauty Queens by Libba Bray. To be honest, it will be hard for any book to ever compare to this excellent book and it’s excellent reading – by Libba Bray herself! Beauty Queens is the story of a group of teen dream beauty contestants whose plane crashes on a seemingly deserted island that holds a secret. It’s a dystopian tale about a world which is primarily run by the consumeristic corporation and money talks. It has a ton – and a do mean a ton – of powerful and important conversations about all kinds of issues surrounding what it means to identify as female in this world. It pulls no punches and we definitely made sure we didn’t listen to this one when Thing 2 was in the car, because she’s only 8. It’s a great story made even greater by the amazing reading by Libba (Libba and I are apparently on a first name basis now). Even if you have read the book, I highly highly highly recommend listening to the audio book version as well. It’s that good.

Listening with my teenage daughter has dramatically changed my experience of audio books. It’s fun to listen with her and see her reactions in real time. It also prompts a lot of conversations, funny, sweet, sometimes challenging, always bonding. She has enjoyed listening to audio books so much that she downloaded the app onto her phone and I set up an account for her. Bonus: she had to get her own library card to do it (she’s always just used mine because no fines) – yay for more statistics!

I know that many libraries use Overdrive, and we also subscribe to Overdrive. My library just happens to subscribe to both Overdrive and Hoopla. And I’ll be honest, I find Hoopla a little easier to use once you get it all set up. But either way, you can have the same fun experience listening to audio books as a family. And yes, 24 years as a librarian and I had never done this – even though I advocate for it ALL THE TIME. I feel your shame coming through the Internet. But look, I made it right!

Books Discussed

The Disappearances by Emily Bain Murphy

What if the ordinary things in life suddenly…disappeared?

Aila Quinn’s mother, Juliet, has always been a mystery: vibrant yet guarded, she keeps her secrets beyond Aila’s reach. When Juliet dies, Aila and her younger brother Miles are sent to live in Sterling, a rural town far from home–and the place where Juliet grew up.

Sterling is a place with mysteries of its own. A place where the experiences that weave life together–scents of flowers and food, reflections from mirrors and lakes, even the ability to dream–vanish every seven years.

No one knows what caused these “Disappearances,” or what will slip away next. But Sterling always suspected that Juliet Quinn was somehow responsible–and Aila must bear the brunt of their blame while she follows the chain of literary clues her mother left behind.

As the next Disappearance nears, Aila begins to unravel the dual mystery of why the Disappearances happen and who her mother truly was. One thing is clear: Sterling isn’t going to hold on to anyone’s secrets for long before it starts giving them up.

Beauty Queens by Libba Bray

When a plane crash strands thirteen teen beauty contestants on a mysterious island, they struggle to survive, to get along with one another, to combat the island’s other diabolical occupants, and to learn their dance numbers in case they are rescued in time for the competition.