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About the Book: Nate is off to New York City to start auditions for E. T.: The Broadway Musical! The show is full of child actors, a director who no one thinks can actually pull this off, and understudies who are even crazier in person! Will the show make it to previews? Will Nate make his Broadway debut?
GreenBeanTeenQueen Says: I adored Better Nate Than Ever so very much. so I was thrilled to have Nate back and enjoy more of his naive optimism when it comes to show tunes, Broadway, and people and life in general.
As usual, Nate sees the good in everything around him and that makes him a very charming character. While the rest of the cast isn't sure this show is going to take off and just doing it for a job, Nate is there because he's living his dream and his belief that the show is magical makes it magical. He also could make Jordan, the lead child actor who is playing the role of Elliot into his nemesis, and while there is some early rivalry, Nate doesn't let that stop him from befriending Jordan-or the other kid actors. He even manages to make his way into the heart of one of the other E.T. understudies. Everyone who Nate comes in contact with really ends up falling for his charms-as do the readers, which makes this book so wonderful. Nate's optimism is infectious.
In addition to all the Broadway talk, show tunes references, and theater geek goodies galore, Tim Federle explores two tougher topics in a deftly and perfect way-the absence of Nate's parents and the topic of Nate's sexuality. While the topic of Nate's parents is hard to discuss in an otherwise happy-go-lucky feel of a book, but instead of getting too deep and bogged down, it's handled seamlessly in the story. Nate struggles with the absence of his parents, why they don't check in, why they don't seem happier for him, and why they don't share his passions and his dreams. But he finds comfort in his Aunt Heidi, who steps in as caretaker while he is in New York, and while I think it will take longer for Nate's dad to come around, I think there is hope for his mom to come visit him and see her son on stage someday.
Nate has a secret admirer in the book and he suspects it's one of the girls in the cast-and Nate isn't sure how he feels about that. And he's in for a surprise when he discovers who it is! The sweet, tender romance, of a gay boy isn't often explored in middle grade novels and again, the author does a great job fitting this into the story. Nate's romance is adorable and you just want to cheer him on throughout the entire book.
I listened the first book on audio and knew I had to listen to this one too. Tim Federle needs to narrate more audiobooks because he is awesome! Not only is his writing hilarious, but his narration is spot on. He nails the innocence of Nate, the overprotective stage parent, the tired (and a bit washed up) actors, the clueless director, the tough choreographer who rules the stage-they are all wonderfully created on audio via Federle's narration. I was so excited to see this auidobook win an Odyssey Honor!
While the book does have a bit of a 42nd Street ending, I thought it fit Nate's story well and loved seeing the world of Broadway through his eyes. I can't wait to read more from Tim Federle-my inner theater kid needs more!
Book Pairings: Jack & Louisa: Act 1 by Andrew Keenan-Bolger and Kate Weatherhead
Full Disclosure: Reviewed from audiobook sent by publisher