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The parents' guide to what's in this book.
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What's the story?
Eighth-grader Nate Foster is a boy in love with Broadway but stuck in small-town western Pennsylvania, a misfit in a family that values sports and God. While his parents spend a weekend away to try to save their marriage, Nate's best friend Libby helps him execute a crazy plan: to sneak off to New York City to try out for E.T.: The Musical and return home before his parents notice. New York City is more amazing than he dreamed -- and the auditions more excruciating. Through heartache, joy, fear, and wild hope, Nate takes the biggest chance of his young life and has an adventure that changes his life in ways he didn't expect.
Is it any good?
Tim Federle's first novel, BETTER NATE THAN EVER, is fresh and funny, a joyful story for anyone who's felt like a misfit (which is just about everyone). What sets Nate apart and targets him for ridicule in Jankburg, Pa., makes him stand out -- winningly -- at the auditions.
It's also a celebration of New York City, capturing the thrill of a first encounter with the city in all its craziness -- much like the rush teens feel when they enjoy a taste of real independence. Federle nails the voice of a witty 13-year-old with one foot firmly planted in childhood and the other tentatively toeing toward adulthood. Nate chatters excitedly, sometimes doubling back to fill in gaps even as he shares the latest developments. The energetic storytelling crackles with smart one-liners and quirks fans will embrace. Nate's a lovable hero for misfits and dreamers everywhere, and especially for young gay teens and kids who, like Nate, aren't ready to declare anything about their sexuality.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about whether the frequent use of brand names helps or distracts from the story. Do they risk dating the story, or do they add to a sense of time and place?
The tables are turned when one of Nate's bullies is caught with a magazine that makes him a target for anti-gay bullying, but Nate stands up for his tormenter. For help talking about bullying and how to be an upstander, read our article "Bullying Is Everybody's Business."
- Author: Tim Federle
- Genre: Coming of Age
- Topics: Adventures, Arts and Dance, Friendship, Great Boy Role Models, Misfits and Underdogs
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Simon & Schuster
- Publication date: February 5, 2013
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 9 - 13
- Number of pages: 288
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Award: ALA Best and Notable Books
- Last updated: November 11, 2020
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