Better Nate than Ever (CBR8 #32 – there’s one every year that gets missed)

Nate’s just this kid, you know?

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He’s out on an adventure, and he’s exploring who he is and what interests him, and what life is like outside of his hometown of Janksburg, PA and his typical, but pretty unhappy, family. He’s exploring New York and the audition process, and himself.

I loved Nate. How could you not love someone so honest as a protagonist? Federle puts just the right amount of 13-year-old into Nate’s voice. He’s just the smallest bit standoffish, while also baring his soul. He has things about himself that he knows, but he isn’t comfortable deciding yet, or certainly telling us about. He’s gone off on an adventure theoretically for someone else, but really he’s doing it for himself. This is a kid who dreams big (Broadway!) but his big dreams can also feel a little small (Applebee’s in Times Square!).

I find it difficult to sum up the plot of this book (boy runs away to NYC to audition for a play, hijinks ensue), because it’s pretty sparse. But the texture of the narrative offers so much more. You could just give it a cursory read, what you imagine its intended middle grades audience would do, or you can let yourself go back to that time in your life and really sink in to all that is and isn’t being said.

I listened to this one, and Federle narrates himself. It was VERY good. I am even more excited to pick up more of Federle’s writing. (Thanks to ModernLove for highlighting this author, and the Read Harder Challenge for making me read a Middle Grades book).

This book was read and reviewed as part of the charitable Cannonball Read.

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About Katie

Museum educator, caffiene junkie, book lover, student of history, overall goofball.

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