CYBILS REVIEW: Better Nate Than Ever by Tim Federle
ABOUT THE BOOK
Nate Foster has big dreams. His whole life, he’s wanted to star in a Broadway show. (Heck, he'd settle for *seeing* a Broadway show.) But how is Nate supposed to make his dreams come true when he’s stuck in Jankburg, Pennsylvania, where no one (except his best pal Libby) appreciates a good show tune? With Libby’s help, Nate plans a daring overnight escape to New York. There's an open casting call for E.T.: The Musical, and Nate knows this could be the difference between small-town blues and big-time stardom.
Nate Foster wants to be on Broadway more than anything. His family doesn't understand this and so when the opportunity to audition for E.T.: The Musical arises he can't pass it by. But it means leaving home on his own while his parents are away. But like most good plans, things go awry right from the beginning. He gets soaked walking down the street, his new clothes don't fit, and he needs an guardian in order to audition in the first place. The unexpected arrival of his Aunt Heidi, who he hasn't seen in years, at first seems like bad luck, but may turn out to be much more. Nate must decide just how much he is willing to risk for the chance of a lifetime.
Strengths: The voice is honestly and humorously done. Nate's sense of humor helps him deal with the bad things in his life like bullying, being overlooked by just about everyone, and his short stature. Broadway isn't a topic I've ever seen done in children's fiction before so it's a nice addition.
Weaknesses: The profanity, swearing, and sexual references made me uncomfortable. This isn't a book I would feel comfortable putting in an elementary library. Plus, a thirteen-year-old on his own in New York City made me a bit nervous. And I understand Nate's wanting to save his relationship with his brother (not that they have much of one), but his brother's underage drinking shouldn't be kept a secret.