Reviews for Better Nate Than Ever

Booklist Reviews 2013 February #2
In this funny and insightful story, the dreams of many a small-town, theater-loving boy are reflected in the starry eyes of eighth-grader Nate. When Nate hops a Greyhound bus to travel across Pennsylvania to try out for the Broadway-bound musical based on the movie E.T., no one but his best friend, Libby, knows about it; not his athletic brother, religious father, or unhappy mother. Self-reliant, almost to an inauthentic fault, he arrives in Manhattan for the first time and finds his way into the audition with dramatic results, and when his estranged actress/waitress aunt suddenly appears, a troubled family history and a useful subplot surface. Nate's emerging sexuality is tactfully addressed in an age-appropriate manner throughout, particularly in his wonderment at the differences between his hometown and N.Y.C., "a world where guys . . . can dance next to other guys who probably liked Phantom of the Opera and not get threatened or assaulted." This talented first-time author has made the classic Chorus Line theme modern and bright for the Glee generation. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.

BookPage Reviews 2013 February
A runaway headed for bright lights

Nate Foster will never fit in with the kids in his hometown of Jankburg, Pennsylvania. In a place that worships sports stars, 12-year-old Nate prefers to belt out Broadway tunes loud enough for the neighbors to hear. So when Nate learns about an open casting call for E.T.: The Musical, he knows that this could be his only chance to escape.

In Better Nate Than Ever, by Broadway veteran Tim Federle, Nate travels to New York armed only with his cell phone, a box of Entenmann’s donuts and his mom’s ATM card.

Once Nate arrives in the city, things don’t go exactly according to plan. From getting caught in a downpour (in his audition clothes), to underestimating the number of kids interested in playing Elliot in E.T.: The Musical, Nate’s big plan for escape crumbles all around him. However, just like on stage, all you need is one twist of fate and everything can turn around.

A confession: Your reviewer is a huge fan of Broadway musicals. And on its surface, this book is written for fans like me. However, there is so much more to this story. Nate is rash and immature, yes, but he is also determined and courageous, and desperate to figure out where in the world he fits. Filled with adventure, suspense, humor and unique characters, Better Nate Than Ever will be enjoyed by anyone who has ever decided to stop waiting and make their own dreams come true.

Copyright 2012 BookPage Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2013 Fall
Dreaming of Broadway stardom, thirteen-year-old Nate Foster runs away from his dull Pennsylvania town to the Big Apple, and to a casting call for a new musical. Tailor-made for fans of Glee, Federle's debut novel combines humor with an insider's perspective on the theater, an enthusiastic portrait of New York, and a genuine affection for lovable misfit Nate.

Kirkus Reviews 2013 January #1
A story of Broadway dreams tailor-made for the younger side of the Glee audience. Jankburg, Penn., has always been too small-town for 13-year-old Nate Foster's Broadway-sized dreams. Jocks and God rule in the Foster house, which is good news for Anthony, Nate's older brother, and bad news for a boy with a soft spot for jazz hands and show tunes. Thankfully, Nate's best friend, Libby, shares his love of the Great White Way. When Libby learns of an upcoming audition for a Broadway-musical version of E.T., it's too good an opportunity to pass up. With Libby as his cover, the two hatch a plan that will have Nate to New York and back with the role of Elliott firmly in hand before anyone even knows he's gone missing. Alas, things rarely go according to plan. Nate is a quirky and endearing leading man from the start, and anyone who has ever felt out of place will easily identify with him. It's a joy to watch him fall head over heels for a city that couldn't care less about him--in the best possible way. Unfortunately, the cartoonish cover art and a predominantly lighthearted beginning may mislead some readers. Federle's debut addresses--deftly--big and solemn issues in the second half of the novel, particularly with regard to family, sexuality and religion. Bravo, Nate! (Fiction. 8-13) Copyright Kirkus 2012 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Library Media Connection Reviews 2013 August/September
Nate Foster begins this narrative with his trip to New York to audition for a role in E.T. the Musical. Nate is unsure of what he will encounter, and has many adventures that cause him to lose faith, yet Nate finds it within himself to keep going. There are adventures similar to E. L. Konigsburg's From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, updated. Well-researched, the book not only explores the audition process, but also the streets of New York. There is a hint of homosexuality, although not sufficient to label the book as such, and one wonders if the love of show tunes by Nate is indicative of a stereotypical gay male. Friendship, family, and being true to oneself are all addressed in this novel that will entice boys. The cliffhanger at the end, the result of the callback for the role, will have readers anxiously awaiting the next installment. Sara Rofofsky Marcus, Contributing Faculty, Walden University, Minneapolis, Minnesota [Editor's Note: Available in e-book format. RECOMMENDED Copyright 2012 Linworth Publishing, Inc.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2012 December #3

Federle's hilarious and heartwarming debut novel follows 13-year-old musical theater-loving Nate Foster on his meticulously choreographed overnight getaway to New York City to audition for E.T.: The Musical. Catchy chapter titles framed in marquee lights ("This'll Be Fast: You Might as Well Meet Dad, Too") and running gags, like Nate's use of Broadway flops as epithets ("Moose Murders it all to tarnation!"), add to the theatrical atmosphere as Nate breathlessly narrates his backstory and real-time adventures. Federle (who has himself worked on Broadway) combines high-stakes drama with slapstick comedy as Nate travels by Greyhound bus--dying cellphone and dollars in hand--determined to get to the audition, conceal his lack of chaperone, and compete in the cutthroat world of child actors and stage parents. Nate's desperation to escape his stifling home environment, instant love affair with the city, questions about his sexuality, and relationship with his dysfunctional but sympathetic family add emotional depth. Federle's supporting characters affirm theater's "no small roles" adage, and E.T. references abound--like Elliott's bicycle in the film, this book soars. Ages 9-13. Agent: Brenda Bowen, Sanford J. Greenburger Associates. (Feb.)

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School Library Journal Reviews 2013 March

Gr 5-8--Irrepressible 13-year-old Nate Foster is certain that stardom awaits, as soon as he can leave his stifling life in small-town Jankburg, Pennsylvania, behind. Using his ever-loyal best friend, Libby, as an alibi, he sneaks away to New York City to audition for E.T.: The Musical. Nate and Libby have an endearing habit of using the names of Broadway flops as stand-ins for foul language. A madcap adventure featuring bossy receptionists, cutthroat fellow performers, and wacky casting directors follows. With the help of an understanding aunt, Nate remains goofy and upbeat in the face of constant criticism and rejection. A fun and suspenseful ending will leave readers guessing whether Nate scores the part or not. Federle's semiautobiographical debut explores weighty issues such as sibling rivalry, bullying, religious parents, and gay or questioning teens with a remarkably lighthearted and humorous touch totally appropriate for young audiences.--Madigan McGillicuddy, Atlanta-Fulton Public Library, Atlanta, GA

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