If you’ve never spent time in Miami—the real Miami, not just the beach hotels—you may not understand how vital it is that Jennine Capó Crucet’s hilarious but ultimately poignant Say Hello to My Little Friend (Simon & Schuster Audio, 8 hours and 42 minutes) is narrated by a reader with a believable Miami accent.

The novel—about Ismael “Izzy” Reyes, a Cuban-born failed Pitbull impersonator who decides to reinvent himself as Tony Montana from Scarface—fizzes with the energy and improbability of Miami itself. And like that seductive city on the bay, it’s simultaneously dazzling and heartbreaking, wildly imaginative yet shrewdly grounded by Crucet’s innate understanding of place and people.

Izzy, for example, may treat Scarface like a self-help video, but he understands the absurdity of Al Pacino’s dreadful Cuban accent in the film. Narrator Krizia Bajos’ painstakingly accurate performance is the antithesis of Pacino’s cartoonishness, helping the author’s humor and outrage land with authority.

A Miami native, Bajos also helps Crucet shape the book’s most whimsical twist into amusing but sobering commentary. As Izzy fights his way up the criminal ladder, the Seaquarium’s prized orca, Lolita, is sending him psychic messages from her tiny tank. Are they both doomed, like the sinking city itself? Bajos treats Lolita’s perspective seriously, never exaggerating the orca’s inner voice, and this less-is-more interpretation enhances Crucet’s powerful story.

There are many pleasures in listening to Kiley Reid’s entertaining new campus novel, Come & Get It (Penguin Audio, 12 hours and 52 minutes), but the most surprising is how quickly she ensnares you in the ordinary lives of women whose paths cross at the University of Arkansas.

There’s Millie, a residential assistant working her way through school, whose plan to buy a house gets derailed by her increasingly messy decisions; Agatha, a visiting professor trying to come up with an idea for her next book; and several young women in the dorm that Millie’s monitoring, on whom Agatha and Millie begin to spy in the name of research.

Offering a big assist to the author is narrator Nicole Lewis, who also read Reid’s terrific Such a Fun Age, a debut novel that likewise deftly examined the relationships between women of different races and economic classes. Here, Lewis has more characters to juggle, including the voices of several young female college students. She differentiates the characters through subtle inflections instead of obvious tricks (only one, for example, has a distinct accent), highlighting Reid’s skill at creating memorable characters.

Sudanese American poet Safia Elhillo narrates her novel-in-verse Bright Red Fruit (Listening Library, 4 hours and 21 minutes) with earnest passion and a palpable innocence. She embodies the spirit of the inexperienced Samira, the teenage poet who longs for freedom but finds herself at odds with her strict Sudanese community and her mother in Washington, D.C.

“I wanted the world,” Samira says. “All of it.” But when she meets an older, predatory poet online, Samira learns that not all of the world can be trusted.

Elhillo invokes the myth of Persephone throughout the novel, which is categorized as a young adult book but is suitable for any reader. Listeners may not realize at first that Bright Red Fruit is a novel-in-verse, but upon hearing Elhillo’s reading, they can’t miss this work’s lyrical beauty.

Connie Ogle is a writer in Florida.