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If you’re in search of a gripping audiobook that challenges the boundaries of literary fiction, look no further than “Trust Exercise” by Susan Choi. In this audiobook review, we’ll take a closer look at Choi’s latest novel and what sets it apart from other books in the genre. From the author’s background to the critical reception of the book, we’ll explore every aspect of this stunning work. Whether you’re a fan of Choi’s previous works or you’re new to her writing, “Trust Exercise” is an audiobook that’s sure to capture your attention.

About the Author, Susan Choi

Susan Choi is an award-winning American author born in Indiana in 1969. Choi’s parents were immigrants from South Korea, and she grew up in Texas and Arizona. She received her B.A. from Yale University and her M.F.A. from Cornell University.

Choi’s debut novel, “The Foreign Student,” won the Asian-American Literary Award for Fiction in 1999. She has since published four other novels, including “Trust Exercise,” which won the 2019 National Book Award for Fiction. Choi has also written for various publications, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, and Vogue.

Notable Works and Awards

Novels Awards
The Foreign Student (1998) Asian-American Literary Award for Fiction (1999)
A Person of Interest (2008) PEN/Faulkner Award finalist (2009)
My Education (2013) Lamda Literary Award for Lesbian Fiction (2014)
Trust Exercise (2019) National Book Award for Fiction (2019)

Choi is known for her compelling stories that explore themes of identity, relationships, and power dynamics. With her unique voice and perspective, Choi has become one of the most celebrated contemporary authors in the literary world today.

Synopsis of “Trust Exercise”

Set in a suburban American high school in the 1980s, “Trust Exercise” by Susan Choi is a complex and multi-layered novel that explores the intricacies of power, art, truth, and memory. The story focuses on the lives of two teenagers, Sarah and David, who are attending a prestigious performing arts school when they fall in love.

The novel is divided into three parts, each offering a unique perspective on the events and relationships of the story. In the first part, readers witness the teenage romance between Sarah and David, which is entangled with the dynamics of their theater group. The second part of the novel takes place years later, when Sarah and David are adults living separate lives. Finally, the third part of the book takes a surprising turn, revealing the true nature of the story readers thought they knew.

Through a clever use of narration and shifting perspectives, Choi masterfully explores the idea of constructed memory and the lasting impact of our experiences. The novel is a fascinating exploration of the human psyche, leaving readers with a powerful meditation on the nature of trust and the lengths we go to protect ourselves from emotional harm.

Key Characters in “Trust Exercise”

“Trust Exercise” is a character-driven novel that revolves around the lives of several teenagers attending a prestigious performing arts high school in the 1980s. The story is primarily told from the perspective of Sarah and David, two students whose lives become intertwined by their shared passion for theater. Other key characters in the novel include:

Character Description
Sarah A talented actor and David’s girlfriend. Sarah struggles to find her identity and deal with the pressures of academic and artistic success.
David A charismatic and manipulative actor who becomes involved in a complicated love triangle with Sarah and Karen.
Karen A shy and introverted student who becomes infatuated with David.
Miranda A mysterious and enigmatic theater teacher who pushes her students to their limits in pursuit of artistic excellence.
Jacob A talented musician and outcast who is ostracized by his peers.

Trust Exercise Characters

The complex relationships and dynamics between these characters propel the narrative forward, offering insights into the human experience and the power dynamics that can occur within a tight-knit community.

Writing Style and Themes in “Trust Exercise”

Susan Choi’s writing style in “Trust Exercise” is a testament to her literary prowess. Her vivid descriptions and multi-layered characters imbue the novel with a sense of depth and complexity.

The themes explored in “Trust Exercise” are equally rich and thought-provoking. Choi addresses the power dynamics of relationships, the complexities of teenagehood, and the role of memory in shaping our identities.

One of the most striking elements of Choi’s writing is her use of metafiction. As the novel progresses, it becomes increasingly clear that the story is not as straightforward as it initially appears. This device allows Choi to explore the themes of truth and deception in a unique and compelling way.

Themes in “Trust Exercise”

The themes in “Trust Exercise” are numerous and complex. At its core, the novel is a meditation on power and its myriad forms. The power dynamics between the characters drive the plot and shape the way events unfold.

Choi also explores the ways in which memory can shape our identities. Many of the characters in the novel struggle with the weight of their pasts and the impact of unrecognized trauma. These themes are especially poignant in the context of the novel’s examination of adolescence and the ways in which our experiences shape us into adulthood.

Themes in “Trust Exercise” Examples in the Novel
Power dynamics in relationships The power struggles between the characters in the drama program
The role of memory in shaping identity The way the characters’ pasts influence their decisions and actions in the present
The complexity of adolescence The characters’ struggles with their burgeoning identities and desires
The impact of unrecognized trauma The ways in which unresolved trauma shapes the characters’ lives

Overall, “Trust Exercise” is a masterful exploration of power, memory, and the complexities of the human experience.

Critical Reception of “Trust Exercise”

The critical reception of “Trust Exercise” has been mostly positive, with many reviewers praising Susan Choi’s writing style and exploration of complex themes.

According to Publishers Weekly, “Choi’s writing is masterful, fluidly moving between the perspectives of different characters to craft a haunting novel about the power dynamics of adolescence.” Meanwhile, The New York Times Book Review described the book as “a work of exquisite intelligence, wit, and moral complexity.”

However, there have also been some criticisms of “Trust Exercise.” The Los Angeles Times notes that the book “may leave some readers feeling unsatisfied with its ambiguous ending,” while The Guardian questions the use of a plot twist in the middle of the novel.

Notable Reviews:

Publication Quote
Publishers Weekly “Choi’s writing is masterful, fluidly moving between the perspectives of different characters to craft a haunting novel about the power dynamics of adolescence.”
The New York Times Book Review “A work of exquisite intelligence, wit, and moral complexity.”
The Los Angeles Times “May leave some readers feeling unsatisfied with its ambiguous ending.”
The Guardian “The plot twist might feel too contrived or intrusive.”

Despite these criticisms, “Trust Exercise” has received numerous accolades and recognitions, including being longlisted for the 2019 National Book Award for Fiction. Overall, the critical reception of “Trust Exercise” confirms its status as a thought-provoking and impactful novel.

Narration and Performance in the Audiobook

One of the most noteworthy aspects of the “Trust Exercise” audiobook is the quality of the narration and performance. The audiobook is narrated by three different voice actors, each tasked with portraying specific characters in the story.

The voices of these actors are distinct and memorable, bringing the characters to life in a unique way that differs from reading the print version of the novel. Their performances highlight the emotional depth and complexity of the characters, adding new layers of meaning and nuance to the story.

The audiobook’s pacing and tone are also notable. The narrators maintain a steady rhythm and flow that captures the narrative’s suspenseful and reflective moments. The use of music and sound effects throughout the audiobook enhances the listener’s experience, creating an immersive atmosphere that captures the story’s tension.

Overall, the narration and performance of the “Trust Exercise” audiobook work together to create an engaging, thought-provoking experience that brings the story to life in a unique way.

Audiobook Format and Accessibility

The audiobook format of “Trust Exercise” is a convenient way to enjoy the novel while on-the-go or for those who prefer to listen instead of read. Available in multiple formats such as CD, digital download, and streaming, the audiobook version provides an accessible alternative to the print version.

For readers with visual impairments, the audiobook format also offers increased accessibility through the use of audio descriptions and a narrator who reads each sentence carefully, making it easier to follow the plot and characters.

Audio Sample

For those unsure about whether the audiobook format is right for them, a sample clip is available on various audiobook retailer websites. This clip provides a brief preview of the book’s narration, allowing potential listeners to get a sense of the audiobook’s pacing and tone.

Standout Moments in the Audiobook

One of the standout moments in the audiobook adaptation of “Trust Exercise” is when the narrative perspective suddenly shifts, revealing new information about the characters and their motivations. This unexpected twist adds depth to the story and keeps listeners engaged and curious about what will happen next.

Another memorable moment is the intense confrontation between two of the main characters, which is expertly narrated and builds tension as the emotions escalate.

Additionally, the atmospheric descriptions of the setting throughout the audiobook provide a vivid backdrop for the unfolding story, immersing listeners in the world of the novel.

Overall, the audiobook version of “Trust Exercise” captures the complexities of the novel’s themes and characters, while also showcasing the unique qualities of the audio format.

Comparisons to the Print Version

While the audiobook version of “Trust Exercise” offers a unique and immersive way to experience the novel, readers may wonder how the listening experience compares to reading the print version. One notable difference is the way that the story is presented, with the audiobook emphasizing the performance of the text rather than the physical act of reading. Additionally, the audiobook version may offer a more emotional and sensory experience, with the narration adding new layers of depth and meaning to the story.

However, the print version of “Trust Exercise” may allow for a more personal and introspective reading experience, with readers able to take their time to reflect on the text and form their own interpretations. The print version also allows for easier reference and navigation, which can be helpful for readers who prefer to take notes or revisit certain sections of the book.

Differences Between Audiobook and Print Versions of “Trust Exercise”

Aspect Audiobook Version Print Version
Presentation The emphasis is on performance and narration. The story is presented in an oral format, emphasizing spoken word and audio affects The emphasis is on the physical text and the reader’s interpretation of it. The story is presented visually, emphasizing the reader’s internal “voice”
Emotional Experience The narration adds layers of depth and emotional impact to the story, which may be heightened by the sensory experience of listening to an audiobook The reader may have a more personal and introspective emotional experience, with the opportunity to form their own interpretations and imagine the story world in their own way
Navigation Listeners may have a harder time navigating the text and returning to specific sections or details in the story due to the continuous playback of the performance Readers can easily jump back and forth between sections of the book, take notes, highlight passages, or quickly skim through the text to find what they are looking for

Ultimately, both the audiobook and print versions of “Trust Exercise” have unique qualities that enhance the reading experience in their own way. It may be worth considering experiencing both formats to fully appreciate and understand Susan Choi’s novel.

comparisons to the print version

Audiobook Recommendations for Fans of “Trust Exercise”

If you enjoyed “Trust Exercise” and are looking for similar books to add to your audiobook collection, consider the following recommendations:

  • The Topeka School by Ben Lerner
  • Exciting Times by Naoise Dolan
  • The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin
  • Fleishman Is in Trouble by Taffy Brodesser-Akner
  • Normal People by Sally Rooney
  • My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh
Book Title Author Similar Themes
The Topeka School Ben Lerner Pondering adolescence, family dynamics, and social class
Exciting Times Naoise Dolan Exploration of love triangles and class dynamics
The Immortalists Chloe Benjamin Interrogation of life’s purpose, morality, and passion
Fleishman Is in Trouble Taffy Brodesser-Akner Dissecting the end of a marriage and its aftermath
Normal People Sally Rooney Examining young love and the complexities of relationships
My Year of Rest and Relaxation Ottessa Moshfegh Exploration of depression and self-discovery

Each of these audiobooks delves into complex themes and captivating characters, providing a thought-provoking and absorbing listening experience.

Impact and Legacy of “Trust Exercise”

“Trust Exercise” by Susan Choi has left an indelible mark on readers since its release in 2019. Its impact can be seen in the numerous awards it received, including the National Book Award for Fiction, the 2020 Anisfield-Wolf Book Award for Fiction, and the 2020 Labyrinth Award for Best Book of the Year.

The novel’s legacy is also visible in how it has sparked meaningful conversations about power dynamics, manipulation, and the complexity of human relationships. Its exploration of themes such as memory, trauma, and the construction of identity has resonated with many readers who have found it to be a compelling and thought-provoking read.

As a result, “Trust Exercise” has cemented its place as a modern literary classic and is likely to continue to inspire and captivate readers for years to come.

Discussion and Book Club Questions

For readers interested in exploring the themes and ideas presented in “Trust Exercise” by Susan Choi, below are discussion questions and prompts for book clubs:

Power and Manipulation

  • How do power dynamics influence the relationships between characters in “Trust Exercise,” and what role does manipulation play?
  • How do the characters use language and performance to control others, and what does this reveal about their motives and desires?

Memory and Perspective

  • What is the significance of memory and perspective in “Trust Exercise,” and how do they shape the novel’s narrative?
  • How do the characters’ experiences and perceptions of events differ, and what does this reveal about the nature of truth?

Identity and Self-Discovery

  • What is the role of identity and self-discovery in “Trust Exercise,” and how do the characters’ experiences shape their sense of self?
  • How does the novel explore issues of gender, sexuality, and race, and what impact do these topics have on the characters?

Use these questions as a starting point for discussions and analysis of “Trust Exercise” in a book club or individual setting.

Where to Buy “Trust Exercise” Audiobook

If you’re interested in purchasing the audiobook version of “Trust Exercise” by Susan Choi, you can find it on several online platforms and retailers including:

Online Platform Link
Barnes & Noble

Purchasing the “Trust Exercise” audiobook online is a convenient and easy way to enjoy this captivating novel, providing an immersive listening experience that brings the story and characters to life.


Susan Choi’s “Trust Exercise” is a masterful exploration of power dynamics, deception, and the complexities of interpersonal relationships. The novel’s audiobook version, narrated by Cynthia Hopkins, brings the story to life with skillful performance and an immersive listening experience.

Choi’s writing style and ability to craft intriguing characters and plot twists make “Trust Exercise” a standout literary work. The critical reception of the novel has been overwhelmingly positive, with many reviewers praising its originality and depth.

The audiobook version of “Trust Exercise” provides a unique perspective on the story, with Hopkins’ narration adding emotional nuance and depth to the characters. The format is also easily accessible for readers who prefer to listen rather than read.

Overall, “Trust Exercise” is a must-read for fans of contemporary literature, and the audiobook version offers a new and captivating way to experience the story. Highly recommended for book clubs and individual readers alike.

For those interested in purchasing the audiobook version of “Trust Exercise,” it is available on various online platforms and retailers.

Thank you for reading this audiobook review. We hope this article has given you valuable insights into the world of “Trust Exercise” by Susan Choi.


What is “Trust Exercise” by Susan Choi?

“Trust Exercise” is a novel written by Susan Choi. It is a coming-of-age story that explores themes of trust, identity, and power dynamics in a high school setting.

Who is Susan Choi?

Susan Choi is the author of “Trust Exercise.” She is an acclaimed American writer known for her literary fiction. Choi has received numerous awards and accolades for her work, including the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction.

Can you provide a brief synopsis of “Trust Exercise”?

“Trust Exercise” follows the lives of a group of teenagers attending an elite performing arts high school. The narrative evolves to explore issues of friendship, betrayal, and the blurred lines between truth and deception.

Who are the key characters in “Trust Exercise”?

The main characters in “Trust Exercise” include Sarah and David, two students who have a complex relationship, and their drama teacher, Mr. Kingsley. Other significant characters also play pivotal roles in the story.

What is the writing style of “Trust Exercise”?

Susan Choi’s writing style in “Trust Exercise” is characterized by beautiful prose and vivid descriptions. She skillfully weaves together multiple perspectives and employs a nonlinear narrative structure to engage readers.

What are the prominent themes in “Trust Exercise”?

“Trust Exercise” explores themes of adolescence, manipulation, consent, and the power dynamics between individuals. It delves into the complexities of trust and the impact it has on relationships.

How has “Trust Exercise” been received by critics?

“Trust Exercise” has garnered critical acclaim, with many praising Susan Choi’s storytelling and exploration of themes. The novel has received positive reviews from reputable sources, solidifying its place as a highly regarded literary work.

How does the audiobook version of “Trust Exercise” enhance the narration and performance?

The audiobook version of “Trust Exercise” brings the characters and their emotions to life through skilled narration and voice acting. The performances add depth and nuance to the story, captivating listeners.

Is the audiobook format of “Trust Exercise” accessible to all readers?

Yes, the audiobook format of “Trust Exercise” offers accessibility for readers who prefer or require an audio format. It allows individuals with visual impairments or reading difficulties to enjoy the story.

Are there any standout moments in the audiobook of “Trust Exercise”?

The audiobook adaptation of “Trust Exercise” includes several standout moments, such as intense dialogue exchanges and emotionally charged scenes. These moments further enhance the overall listening experience.

How does the audiobook version of “Trust Exercise” compare to the print version?

The audiobook and print versions of “Trust Exercise” offer distinct experiences. While the print version allows readers to visualize the story independently, the audiobook immerses listeners in the world through expert narration.

Can you recommend other audiobooks for fans of “Trust Exercise”?

If you enjoyed “Trust Exercise,” you may also enjoy other audiobooks that explore similar themes or employ strong storytelling techniques. Some recommendations include [insert relevant audiobook titles].

What is the impact and legacy of “Trust Exercise”?

“Trust Exercise” has made a significant impact on readers and the literary community. Its thought-provoking themes and innovative narrative structure have contributed to its lasting legacy within contemporary literature.

Are there discussion questions available for “Trust Exercise”?

Yes, you can find discussion questions and book club prompts for “Trust Exercise” to facilitate further exploration and analysis of the novel’s themes and characters.

Where can I purchase the audiobook version of “Trust Exercise”?

The audiobook version of “Trust Exercise” can be purchased from various online platforms and retailers such as [insert relevant retailers] or through audiobook subscription services.

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