Better Nate Than Ever by Tim Federle
Nate lives in Jankburg, Pennsylvania probably as far from Broadway that you can get. But Broadway is where he dreams of being. So when an opportunity to go to an open audition for E.T.: the Musical comes around, he and his best friend figure out how to get him to New York City without anyone knowing. It involves taking an overnight bus from Pennsylvania, taking his mother’s ATM card, and fooling his older brother. Then when he reaches New York City, he has to figure out how to get to the auditions all on his own. There’s a lot that can go wrong in a plan like that, but Broadway and being a star is worth the risk!
Federle has created a tremendously cheery book that is filled with humor and a wonderful light-heartedness. Nate is a character that will speak to many kids who are interested in theater. He describes himself as “undecided” about his sexuality which makes this a very friendly book for middle schoolers who are either questioning their own sexuality or gay. Nate has a wonderful inner voice that he doesn’t allow to speak aloud. His funniest moments are things that he says to himself about circumstances and other people.
While the book remains consistently positive, Federle does also deal with deeper issues like bullying, being the kid at school who doesn’t fit in, alcoholism, and broken families. All of these issues are dealt with seriously and yet at the same time aren’t allowed to make the book dark in any way.
There is humor and hope everywhere in this book. It is a delight of a middle school read.
Reviewed from library copy.