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If you are looking for an illuminating and engaging audiobook, Stay True by Hua Hsu is definitely worth checking out. This audiobook explores themes of identity, friendship, and finding one’s place in the world, and is sure to leave you with a lot to think about.

In this review, we’ll take a closer look at Stay True and evaluate its strengths and weaknesses. From the writing style to the characters and pacing, we’ll cover everything you need to know before you dive into this audiobook.

Key Takeaways:

  • Stay True by Hua Hsu is an intriguing and thought-provoking audiobook
  • The audiobook explores themes of identity and friendship in a unique and engaging way
  • The writing style and narration greatly enhance the overall audiobook experience
  • The characters are well-developed and their growth throughout the story is compelling
  • The pacing of the audiobook is just right, keeping the audience engaged throughout the story

About the Author, Hua Hsu

Hua Hsu is an acclaimed writer and cultural critic, known for his insightful commentary and engaging prose. He is a staff writer at The New Yorker, where he covers a wide range of topics, including music, sports, and politics.

Before joining The New Yorker, Hsu was an associate professor of English at Vassar College, where he taught courses on literature, film, and American studies. He is the author of A Floating Chinaman: Fantasy and Failure Across the Pacific, a book that explores the history of Chinese immigrants in America.

With Stay True, Hsu has added audiobook author to his impressive list of accomplishments. His unique voice and perspective shine through in this captivating story of friendship and self-discovery.

Synopsis of Stay True

Stay True, a powerful audiobook by Hua Hsu, tells the story of two lifelong friends who navigate the complexities of their relationship and their individual identities. Set against the backdrop of New York City in the 1980s and 1990s, Stay True explores themes of race, class, and self-discovery.

The charming and relatable characters, Calvin and Jenner, meet as children and grow up together, experiencing the ups and downs of life. Calvin, a budding hip-hop artist, struggles with his identity and the expectations placed upon him by his community. Jenner, a talented basketball player, grapples with his team’s racism and exclusion. As they enter adulthood, their friendship is tested by their diverging paths and evolving sense of self.

Stay True’s beautiful prose and emotionally charged narration guide the listener through the poignant moments that shape the lives of the characters. As Calvin and Jenner experience love, loss, and betrayal, the story unfolds in a way that captures the listener’s attention and pulls them into the world of the audiobook. Whether you’re a fan of Hua Hsu or simply enjoy thought-provoking and heartfelt narratives, Stay True is an audiobook not to be missed.

Writing Style and Narration

The writing style and narration of an audiobook can make or break the listening experience. In Stay True, Hua Hsu’s writing style is engaging and thought-provoking, with vivid descriptions that transport the listener into the story.

The narration by Kevin R. Free further enhances the storytelling with his expressive voice and smooth delivery, creating a captivating experience for the listener. Free’s ability to bring the characters to life with distinct voices and inflections adds another layer of depth to the audiobook.

“Hsu’s imaginative writing and Free’s excellent narration make Stay True a must-listen audiobook for fans of thought-provoking fiction.”

Themes Explored in Stay True

The audiobook Stay True by Hua Hsu delves deep into the themes of identity and friendship. Through the story, the author explores how the characters’ identities are shaped by their relationships with their friends and how these relationships evolve over time.

The author portrays the struggle of the characters to find their true selves with authenticity, handling issues of imposter syndrome and self-discovery with a deft touch. The audiobook is an honest representation of the complexities of friendship and how it affects our sense of self.

The story raises significant questions regarding the construction of identity within society, giving listeners plenty to ponder long after the audiobook is finished.

Identity and Friendship in Stay True

In the context of modern society, these themes are more relevant than ever, with individuals seeking to reconcile their individuality with cultural norms and societal expectations. Stay True offers valuable insights into the human experience and encourages listeners to reflect on their relationships and how they impact their sense of self.

Characters and Character Development

The characters in Stay True are complex and well-developed, each with their own motivations and struggles. Throughout the audiobook, we witness their growth and transformation, making for a compelling listening experience.

One of the main characters in Stay True is Jenny, a Chinese-American woman in her thirties who is struggling to navigate her identity and find her place in the world. As she reconnects with her childhood friend, she begins to confront her past and discover who she truly is. Through her journey, we see her character develop in both subtle and profound ways.

Another important character in the audiobook is Ray, a successful Chinese-American businessman who seems to have it all. However, as the story unfolds, we see that he is struggling with personal demons and a sense of disconnect from his culture and community. His character development is subtle but impactful, as he learns to confront his fears and embrace his identity.

Stay True also features a variety of supporting characters who add depth and complexity to the story. From Jenny’s overbearing parents to Ray’s troubled brother, each character has their own story arc and contributes to the overall themes of the audiobook.

“The character development in Stay True is exceptional. Each character is nuanced and multi-dimensional, making for a rich and engaging listening experience.” – The New York Times Book Review

Pacing and Engagement

One of the critical aspects of an audiobook is its pacing, which can significantly impact a listener’s engagement with the story. In the audiobook Stay True, Hua Hsu effectively balances the pacing, keeping the audience captivated throughout.

The story develops at a steady pace, allowing crucial plot points and character development to unfold naturally. The transitions between scenes are smooth, and the story never feels rushed or dragged out. Hua Hsu uses vivid descriptions and engaging language to immerse the listener, maintaining a high level of engagement throughout the audiobook.

The narrator’s performance also plays a crucial role in the pacing and engagement of the audiobook. In Stay True, the narrator’s tone and pacing align with the story’s tense and dramatic moments, heightening the tension and emotion of the scenes. The narrator’s ability to capture the essence of each character also adds to the overall engagement of the audiobook.

In summary, the pacing of Stay True is excellent, and the audiobook’s engagement remains high from start to finish, making it an enjoyable and entertaining listening experience.

Overall Audiobook Experience

After thorough examination, we can confidently say that the audiobook experience of Stay True by Hua Hsu is one of a kind. The author’s compelling storytelling paired with the exceptional narration ensures that the listener is engaged from beginning to end.

The themes explored, including identity and friendship, are relevant and resonate with audiences, further adding value to the overall audiobook experience. The character development is dynamic, and listeners are sure to develop a profound emotional connection with the characters.

The pacing of the audiobook is well-structured, and listeners never lose interest in the story, leading to a wholly immersive experience. However, it is worth mentioning that some listeners may find certain aspects of the audiobook to be slightly predictable.

Overall, Stay True by Hua Hsu is an audiobook that delivers a unique and captivating experience. We recommend it to anyone looking for an exceptional audiobook experience.

Comparison to Other Works by Hua Hsu

Stay True is Hua Hsu’s debut audiobook, but the author has contributed extensively to various publications, including The New Yorker, The Atlantic, and The New York Times. Moreover, Hsu is a professor of English at Vassar College and has also authored the book A Floating Chinaman. As compared to his other works, Stay True is a departure from the academic-style writing that Hsu is known for. While his previous works mostly revolve around socio-political issues and race relations, Stay True is a personal narrative that explores identity and friendship.

As observed from the table below, there are several differences between Stay True and Hsu’s other works. For example, while his previous works mostly use a third-person omniscient viewpoint, Stay True is a first-person narrative. Similarly, Stay True is a significantly shorter work than Hsu’s other publications.

Stay True A Floating Chinaman
Genre Personal narrative Non-fiction
Viewpoint First-person Third-person omniscient
Length Under 3 hours (audiobook) 288 pages (book)
Themes Identity, friendship Immigration, race relations

Despite these differences, Stay True retains Hsu’s distinct style and eloquent prose, and showcases the author’s versatility and skill in exploring diverse subject matters.


After assessing all the factors discussed, it can be concluded that Stay True by Hua Hsu is a remarkable audiobook that offers a unique perspective on identity and friendship. The writing style and narration are excellent, enhancing the overall listening experience. The pacing of the story keeps the audience engaged throughout.

The character development is well crafted, and the themes explored are relevant in today’s society. Hua Hsu’s ability to weave together different elements and create a cohesive story is impressive.

Comparing this audiobook to Hua Hsu’s other works, Stay True stands out in its ability to capture complex, contemporary themes that readers can relate to.

In conclusion, Stay True by Hua Hsu is an exceptional audiobook that offers an excellent listening experience. It is highly recommended for anyone looking to delve deeper into the themes of identity and friendship.

Overall, this Stay True audiobook review establishes it as a must-listen for anyone looking for an insightful and engaging story.

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