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My Life, the Theater, and Other Tragedies

3.62  ·  Rating details ·  283 ratings  ·  73 reviews
High school sophomore Adam Zeigler, who lost his father to a sudden accident two years ago, thinks the best way to live life is behind the spotlight. As a member of the theater crew, he believes he's achieved it all when he wins the coveted job of spotlight operator. But that was before a young actress, Summer, appeared in his view. Instantly smitten, Adam is determined to ...more
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published May 10th 2011 by EgmontUSA
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Nina ✿ Looseleaf Reviews ✿
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My Life, Theater, and Other Tragedies is the first book I've ever seen about technical theater, so of course I had to pick it up!

I was really glad to see someone tackle the subject, and even happier when I read the author's bio and saw that he was in theater himself. I did technical theater in high school (I'm now pursuing stage management as my career), and it completely defined my high school life. Zadoff really hits the nail on the head with how clique-ish tec
Stories & Sweeties {Becky}
May 13, 2011 rated it really liked it
I really, really enjoyed this one. I was so engrossed in this funny little snapshot in the life of Adam Zeigler that I sat down to crack it open and before the end of the day I had turned the last page.
The theater that Zadoff presents to us is like a world and culture of its own. And for the Monclair High Theater kids, it’s the tech crew (or Techies) against the actors. Each side thinks they are better than the other. Each side thinks the other will be the death of the current production of Mi
Aug 22, 2011 rated it liked it
I loved the crap out of Zadoff's first book but I really had to force myself through this one. And I am a freaking theatre geek; this was an easy sell to me.

I just never felt truly invested in Z's story. A billion notes struck seemed false - conversations with friends and fellow techies and Derek--none of that seemed like a reality I knew. And I have worked backstage, and I have performed, and yet very little of this took me back to anything I could relate to.

And after the three-dimensional look
Feb 08, 2013 rated it liked it
Oh, to be a high school thespian again! Dramarama.

This story would have been more successful if the plot lines of the characters more followed the story of A Midsummer Night's Dream, but that is just wishful thinking. Also, there were unnecessary character plot lines, like the unresolved absent brother issue.

Overly dramatized warring between actors and techies? Yep, that was pretty much spot on. But it would have been nicer if it was less self-depricating while stereotyping women (and British p
Aug 09, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: teen-fiction
Overall very funny and Zadoff can write. Loved the techie side of theatre this story drew on, and in many places the scenes are very cinematic. I like the central character as well, although his fear of the dark being caused by the loss of his father in the dark seems a little too on the nose, too direct: something rings false anyway. Also appreciate that Zadoff incorporates BIPOC characters. However, I subtracted one whole star for the cliche 'teenage boys are obsessed with cleavage' — maybe th ...more
May 24, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I'm officially a fan of Allen Zadoff.

This book is actually very, very similar to Zadoff's debut, "Food, Girls, and Other Things I Can't Have", in terms of structure, plot and characters, but I just like these 'triumphant' stories so much! I love seeing how an underdog character rise above the odds and emerge from the shadows kind of thing, you know. It's like flicks such as "Mean Girls", where you root for Lindsay Lohan from the beginning, then watch her descend into a huge pit-hole, and then ge
Jan 08, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: ya, 2011, boy-books
It's two years after his dad's unexpected death and Adam Ziegler's life is all tech all the time. Terrified of the dark after losing his dad, he spends his time creating lights for the shows in his high school theater. Though he's still mourning his father and is somewhat distanced from his friends and former life, Adam finds a place he belongs in Tech, running the lights. But when a beautiful actress named Summer catches his attention, he's suddenly in danger of breaking the most important tech ...more
Jul 02, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: own
Sweet, funny, and heartfelt, Allen Zandoff’s My Life, the Theater, and Other Tragedies truly captures the voice of teen in nearly every way possible.

Ever since the death of his beloved dad, Adam Ziegler has made it a point to fall into the background. From his friendships, to his after school actives, to school in general, Adam never lets himself truly get involved or attached. However, everything changes with his high school’s production of A Midsummer’s Dream, because after meeting a cheerful
Katie Fitzgerald
Since his father's death two years ago, Adam Ziegler has enjoyed living life behind the scenes. As a techie in the school drama department, he prefers to watch things from the safe distance of the catwalk, dealing with lighting equipment and other social misfits, rather than stepping into the spotlight or hanging out with actors. His best friend, Reach, shares this affinity for backstage, and has created a widely accepted set of rules to keep techies and actors from being friends.

This year, thou
Danyelle Leafty
Mar 15, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: bookshelf-2011
The voice in the blurb for the book caught my attention for this one as well. This story is about Adam Ziegler who is still dealing with his father's death. He does so by becoming a "techie" for the school's drama department. But this year's production is going to be a lot harder. Derek, the villain of the story, updated A Midsummer Night's Dream script, is in charge of the actors, the set, and is basically running the show. This is a classic case of someone who has more cash than ability.

Apr 13, 2011 rated it liked it
You can find more reviews @BloodyBookaholic

I'm trying to remember the last book I read which was a stand alone... Nope can't remember. Well, besides this one of course. I think it was Pretty Dead by Francesca Lia Block. Why is it a hard time for me to remember this? Because I don't generally pick up stand alone books. I like series. I like revisiting characters and watching them grow. I don't like saying good bye. But that doesn't mean stand alone books are bad, on the contrary come of them are
May 17, 2011 rated it liked it
My Thoughts: Okay, I'll admit it. I was a drama nerd in high school. Fortunately, my theater experiences were not as embarrassing or painful as Adam's! The theater connection is what drew me to the book in the first place, and I definitely think that readers with theater experience will appreciate the details and the story more than non-theater types.

I wish that the play Adam's school put on was something other than Shakespeare, though. I glossed over every quote, chapter title, and Shakespeare
May 28, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: yellow-covers
My Life, the Theater, and Other Tragedies is an awfully long title, but the story itself is freakin' sweet with a dash of boyish charm and theatrical pizazz. Yes, you heard me right: freakin' sweet. I may be a bit biased because I have a secret penchant for behind-the-scenes theater (e.g. I get overly excited for set changes - SO cool!), and Adam Ziegler and peeps were the coolest of the cool.

Adam was such a fascinating narrator that told the facts as they were and added no fluffery, but he deli
Aug 25, 2010 rated it really liked it
My Life, The Theater, and Other Tragedies by Allen Zadoff
Egmont, 2011
288 pages
YA; Contemporary
4/5 stars

Source: Received an ARC through Amazon Vine in exchange for an honest review.

After enjoying Zadoff's Food, Girls, and Other Things I Can't Have, I kept this on my radar once I heard about it. I love high school theater stories and Zadoff's writing so I knew this would be a win.

There were two main threads to the story that eventually intersected. The sadder, more emotional thread was Adam missin
4.5 stars! Excerpt from my review below. You can read my full, in-depth review here:

"Have you ever had a book that just calls out to you and you aren't exactly sure why? Well that's what My, Life, the Theater, and Other Tragedies did the entire time it was sitting in my review pile. I felt inexplicably excited to read it and, some how, just knew that I was going to really like it....................................................................

My Life,
After seeing Allen Zadoff at the Teen Author Carnival earlier this year, I decided I'd like to read something that Mr. Zadoff wrote. When I found our My Life, the Theater, and Other Tragedies was available in audiobook format, 5.5 hours long, and narrated by one of my favorite voice actors Macleod Andrews - paired with the fact that I had a 5.5 hour drive - I knew this was the one to read. Did I like it? Yes, I did.

It's a bit different from what I normally read - don't get me wrong, I definitely
Princess Bookie
Sep 28, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: read2011
My Thoughts: We are introduced to Adam who is in high school. He also lost his father a few years ago and that has taken a big toll on him. He thinks about him constantly. He even has to sleep with a flashlight because his thoughts get the best of him at night.

Adam was an interesting character. He is a stagehand and in the theater this is a whole group of its own. Stagehands or the theater crew do not mash with the actors, under any situation. They like to keep their distance.

Of course Adam meet
Shanyn (Chick Loves Lit)
Jan 14, 2011 rated it really liked it
I have already read Food, Girls, and Other Things I Can't Have, and I really enjoyed it. It's a feel good kind of book, with friendships and relationships and life - so I was expecting that from My Life, the Theater, and Other Tragedies... and I got it! Hooray.

I really like Allen Zadoff's writing style. I started this book late one night, looking for a book where I could read a few chapters before bed - and I actually ended up having to force myself to stop reading halfway through a chapter beca
Apr 13, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This book was a really fast paced read. I never once wanted to put this book down because it was dragging. Most books start off like that and about 30 pages in you want to put it down because it’s dragging so much! In the beginning, most of it was just Adam, Adam, and more Adam. But it wasn’t boring. But then when Summer was introduced in to the story, things started to pick up EVEN MORE. It doesn’t go so fast that you can’t keep track of it which is also a very nice thing here. Adam is a charac ...more
Tabitha Olson
Apr 30, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: recent-reviews
I thought this was a cute book. Quiet, interesting, and a good coming of age story. Nothing really new here, though. And it wasn’t funny like Zadoff's first novel, which was a bit disappointing. I think I had really high expectations regarding the humor, though, so I felt the lack of it much more than if I’d read this book first. Newcomers to Zadoff’s work may not feel the same way.

I got frustrated with Adam for letting everyone walk all over him, even though it was clear why he was withdrawing
Feb 16, 2013 rated it really liked it
Ever since his father died two years ago, Z has been hiding from life. His only passion is theater lighting, and he lives for his time on the catwalk far above the stage. Problem is, the arrogant student Derek, who has a rich and powerful father, is designing the whole production of Midsummer Night's Dream--including the lighting--and it's a disaster. When inevitable accidents happen because of Derek's incompetence, like the lead actress breaking her leg, Z gets blamed. Then there's the director ...more
Aug 14, 2010 rated it liked it
review If you haven't read Allen's debut Food, Girls and Other Thing I Can't Have... do it. It's hilarious... heartfelt, and just a feel good novel about life in general, friendships, relationships, growing up and finding a voice. I was hoping that I would get some of that again when reading My Life, the Theater, and Other Tragedies, and I did. And more.

Somehow, Allen can take these books with serious topics and make them humorous, but not in that cheesy or forced way. (You know what I'm talkin
Steph Su
Dec 29, 2010 rated it liked it
Allen Zadoff remains a contemporary charmer with his second novel for young adults, MY LIFE, THE THEATER, AND OTHER TRAGEDIES.

As he did in Food, Girls, and Other Things I Can’t Have, Zadoff breathes life into subjectively overdone themes like high school isolation and grief with his winningly empathic characters and humorous dialogue. Adam is endearingly geeky and shy. Sometimes his inability to stick up for himself made me want to give him a good hard (well-intentioned) slap, but then watching
Carrie G
Jun 25, 2016 rated it liked it
A good, quick read. I'm afraid this book would be a little to "theater-y" for many of my young adult readers (especially the males), but I really felt like the main character, Adam, was a realistically portrayed teenage boy. He's awkward, NOT good with expressing his feelings or emotions, and just overall pretty clueless. For students who are interested in drama, it is clear that Mr. Zadoff knows what he's talking about when it comes to theater, tech, and the whole drama world. Students will fi ...more
Feb 22, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: young-adult
It's good to know that the cover of this book has already been changed from the Uncorrected Bound Proof I received at Midwinter last month. The old cover had a couple kissing on a movie marquee and it didn't fit the plot very well at all. I'm hoping there were lots of editorial changes, too.

The plus: I loved the details about being a techie in a large school production--lots of info about lights, gels, etc.

The negative: The friendships and relationships between the characters didn't seem real. I
Jun 29, 2011 rated it liked it
Many Glee fans will likely see this book in the spotlight at various Gleerific sites and wonder if they'll like the book? My life, the Theater and Other Tragedies is a sweet teen book with some angst moments, but for the most part is aimed at the younger teen audience. Heavy topics are lightened and although various deeper thematic plays, schemes and issues are present, none are weighty. The book is episodic in nature, perhaps a little predictable, but otherwise entertaining. Verses some other y ...more
Cathy Ryan
Mar 18, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ya
4.5 stars

I loved “Since You Left Me” and this book appealed too. I love the way Mr Zadoff writes, touching and funny at the same time and again dealing with a teenager’s real and deep issues in an insightful way. The words drew me in and the characters felt real and as diverse as you’d find in any high school. I liked Reach, Adam’s best friend and dastardly Derek was the one you love to hate.

Adam is likeable, sweet and insecure, my heart went out to him. I felt total sympathy for a boy, full of
Aug 19, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: young-adult, ebook
YA. Standard high school theatre dead father social clique standing up for yourself young adult novel. Adam Ziegler, whose name suspiciously mirrors that of the author, is struggling after his father's death. Socializing is difficult for him and though he loves being a techie, increasingly his favorite place in the theatre is up in the lighting grid, alone.

I liked the emphasis on light; it felt really natural, in the story, and for the character. Some of the dialogue's quite funny and there are
May 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: teen, library
Painting with lights! Adam, that's amazing!
The high school theater immersion was real, passionate; going behind the curtain and on the catwalk is where Allen Zadoff focuses his story, rather than going to every class of Adam's. In high school world, character is being discovered; integrity glows and dims under peer advantage.
Derek, thinking he's Quentin Tarantino of theater: writer, producer, director; except he wants all the credit and shoves off error onto others. Adam 'challenged' Derek and
Aug 11, 2012 rated it really liked it
There's something just enjoyable about a high school theater story. I haven't read a lot, but having participated, I could appreciate the atmosphere (even if we never had an actors vs. techies rivalry). The story of Adam Ziegler's uphill battle against the smarmy Derek, dealing with the loss of his father (two years prior), and his general awkwardness around girls is easy to relate to.

The dialogue is funny and captures the way that people talk (though naturally, if this book weren't aimed for te
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Allen Zadoff is the author of the new middle grade action thriller Wild & Chance. The second book in the series Wild & Chance: The Puppy War is coming in 2021 from LBYR. His previous series The Unknown Assassin earned starred reviews and is being developed as a feature film by Will Smith's Overbrook Entertainment.

Allen is a graduate of Cornell University and the Harvard University Institute for A

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