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288 pages, Hardcover
First published February 5, 2013
A kid who might have found someplace where he doesn't have to change anything about himself, to fit in.
(A kid going as himself for Halloween, but the best version, the ultimate.)
A better Nate than ever.
*** Stonewall Book Award Nominee for Children's & Young Adult Literature (2014)
*** Golden Kite Award for Fiction (2014)
*** Dorothy Canfield Fisher Children's Book Award Nominee (2015)
*** Lambda Literary Award Nominee for LGBT Children's/Young Adult (2014)
*** American Library Association Rainbow List Top 10 (2014)
*** ALA Odyssey Honor Book (2014)
*** Odyssey Honor (2014)
*** YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults (Top Ten) (2014)
So let's get the awkwardness out of the way first - Tim Federle was on Broadway and I most likely saw him in Gypsy with Bernadette Peters though I really would not have known since I was in the last row of the god-forsaken theater that made me feel like I had vertigo. I probably also saw his work in Billy Elliot but we won't talk about that. We all know I loved the dancing but that was about it. Oops.
That being said, I'm pretty sure Tim is going to be the biggest star once this book hits shelves. I'm talking big star like the important one in The Princess and the Frog:
In BETTER NATE THAN EVER, Nate Foster lives in Jankburg, PA, which is about as far from the spotlights of Broadway as you can get - at least for this 13-year-old. What's important to note here is that Nate is that kid - the one I love, the one who lives and breathes showtunes, the one who may
or may not start snapping his fingers when he finds himself on an empty street with West Side Story playing in the background. So when his best friend/vocal teacher/everything under the sun, Libby, hears about an open casting call for E.T.: The Musical, they both know Nate has to go for it - even if the auditions are in New York City.
I know what you're all thinking - "Mary, of course you loved this. It's all about Broadway musicals. You're obsessed with that."
Wait, come back! Don't go!
Are you back? Good, because BETTER NATE is so much more than a Broadway-infused book. Not only is this one of the funniest books I've read this year - and I'm talking nearly falling off my bed the first time Nate "curses" because that's how hard I was laughing - it's also one of the most heartfelt and emotionally-packed reads of my year. Tim somehow manages to write moments that made me think "did that really just happen?" the way Spring Awakening once did with "My Junk is You." Nate is a go-getter but in the naive way that most kids are. And that's one of the best parts of this book - Nate is a kid. He's 13 and he sounds like it. He's got a bit of that sass that most kids do but Tim writes him like an actual boy his age. This isn't Dawson's Creek, people.
There were also moments that made me sniffle and run the back of my hand over my cheeks to make sure I wasn't actually crying - something which you'll never actually know. But to put it in retrospect, some parts of this book made me want to uglycry - the way I did when Hunter Parrish left Godspell, the way I always do when Armageddon is on TV and it's that stupid moment when Liv Tyler holds her hand up to the monitor of white noise because her dad's about to give up his life for the world (oops, was that a spoiler?). In fact, I felt so deeply for Nate that sometimes I actually wanted to uglycry the way I did (and still do) at the end of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, season 2.
I have so much love for this novel - this fantastic marketed-to-the-middle-grade-age novel - because it's hilarious and riveting. Here's a boy with big dreams who has a best friend with whom he concocts crazy schemes with -- and it's all to follow his dreams.
We all had dreams as children. We still have dreams as adults.
I dare any of you (and myself, for that matter) to go for your dreams the way Nate does in this book.
Who knows... You may surprise yourself.