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Better Nate Than Ever
Cover of Better Nate Than Ever
Better Nate Than Ever
Better Nate Than Ever Series, Book 1
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“The Nate series by Tim Federle is a wonderful evocation of what it’s like to be a theater kid. Highly recommended.” –Lin-Manuel Miranda, star and creator of the musical,...
“The Nate series by Tim Federle is a wonderful evocation of what it’s like to be a theater kid. Highly recommended.” –Lin-Manuel Miranda, star and creator of the musical,...
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  • “The Nate series by Tim Federle is a wonderful evocation of what it’s like to be a theater kid. Highly recommended.” –Lin-Manuel Miranda, star and creator of the musical, Hamilton

    A New York Times Notable Book of the Year, a Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year, and a Slate Favorite Book of the Year. A small-town boy hops a bus to New York City to crash an audition for E.T.: The Musical.
    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.

    Tim Federle’s “hilarious and heartwarming debut novel” (Publishers Weekly) is full of broken curfews, second chances, and the adventure of growing up—because sometimes you have to get four hundred miles from your backyard to finally feel at home.
 

Awards-

Excerpts-

  • From the book

    Some Backstory

    I'd rather not start with any backstory.

    I'm too busy for that right now: planning the escape, stealing my older brother's fake ID (he's lying about his height, by the way), and strategizing high-protein snacks for an overnight voyage to the single most dangerous city on earth.

    So no backstory, not yet.

    Just . . . fill in the pieces. For instance, if I neglect to tell you that I'm four foot eight, feel free to picture me a few inches taller. If I also neglect to tell you that all the other boys in my grade are five foot four, and that James Madison (his actual name) is five foot nine and doesn't even have to mow the lawn for his allowance, you might as well just pretend I'm five foot nine too. Five foot nine with broad, slam-dunking hands and a girlfriend (in high school!) and a clear, unblemished face. Pretend I look like that, like James Madison.

    I do, except exactly opposite plus a little worse.

    By the way, despite our tremendous height gap, he and I weigh the same. The school nurse told me that once: "James Madison was just in, before you," she said, grinning like her news was a Christmas puppy, "and you weigh the exact same!" This is the one attribute at which I'm not below average: body heft.

    Oh, and I already knew that James Madison was in the nurse's office before me that day, because we'd just passed in the door frame, and he licked the Ritalin crumbs from his lips and lunged at me to make me scream a little.

    I screamed a little.

    Luckily, I picked a good key and turned the shriek into a melody, walking into the nurse's office humming a tune. Life hasn't always been easy (my first word was "Mama," and then "The other babies are teasing me"), but at least I'm singing my way through eighth grade, pretending my whole existence is underscored.

    There. There's your backstory. I was always singing.

    Not that there's any evidence. My parents weren't very good about documenting my childhood; my older brother got all the video footage, including his first seven poops. By the time I was born, disturbing the tranquility of Anthony's remarkable career as a three-year-old wonder-jock, the video cameras were fully trained on his every sprint, gasp, dive, and volley.

    Those are sports terms. Reportedly.

    So I always sang, not that there's any proof of it. No high-res shots of little Nate Foster scurrying around the Christmas tree, belting "Santa Baby" in a clarion, silver soprano.

    That's just my imagination of my voice. Again: Nobody ever recorded it.

    But I'm getting off track--you're distracting me--and there is a lot to do.

    "No pressure, but if you pull this off, you are going to be my hero forever." This is Libby, my best friend for as long as I can remember (two years and three months, specifically, but I hate when stories are hampered by math). Libby's standing in my backyard tonight, lit only by the moon. Although it might actually be the neighbor's motion-activated floodlight.

    "Bark! Bark!" That's their dog. Yes, she's definitely being lit by their floodlight.

    "Libby, if I don't pull this off and make it back home by tomorrow night, I'm dead. Like, my parents will never let me leave Western Pennsylvania again."

    I'm hugging my bookbag, which is stuffed with three pairs of underwear, one plastic water bottle (singers have to stay hydrated), deodorant (just in case I need it on the trip; so far I'm good, but I saw on the Internet that a teenager's body can begin stinking at any moment), and fifty dollars. Fifty dollars should be safe through at least Harrisburg, and once there, I'll take my mom's ATM card out and get some more cash.

    Oh, yeah. I borrowed...

About the Author-

  • Tim Federle is the award-winning author of the autobiographical novels Better Nate Than Ever and its sequel Five, Six, Seven, Nate! (Lambda Literary Award winner), which were named best books of the year by the New York Times and the American Booksellers Association, respectively, and was highly recommended by Hamilton's Lin-Manuel Miranda, who called the series, "a wonderful evocation of what it's like to be a theater kid." The Great American Whatever was inspired by an accident near Tim's high school in Pittsburgh that changed the community forever. It is his first novel for young adults. Connect with the author on Instagram and Twitter at @TimFederle, and at TimFederle.com.

Reviews-

  • DOGO Books redheadperson22 - Warning! This review may contain spoilers! There's this 13-year-old guy named Nate. He lives in PA, and he wants to go to NY so he can audition for the Broadway musical version of ET. So he takes his mom's ATM card, his older brothers fake ID, and some snacks, gets on a bus, and heads of to Manhattan. What I though of it: Let's start with Nate. He was a pretty good main character. He was interesting and a bit humorous. I really felt bad for Nate, because, honestly, his life sucked. His parents never let him out of the house, pretty much everyone hated him (including his older brother), he had very few friends, he was short, he was probably overweight, he had acne, his mom dressed him, etc. I personally don't think there's really anything wrong with being short, overweight (unless it causes you health problems), acne, or anything else that Nate (or society) disliked about his appearance. I mean you are who you are, and everyone's different. There's nothing that automatically makes someone unattractive in my opinion. But I'm not most people and according to society, all those things are bad (at least if you're a boy). If you're a girl (according to society), you're perfect no matter what. Yay, double standards! *insert sarcastic facial expression*. In fact, Nate literally had two things going for him. He could sing, and he could act. And he wasn't even sure about those because he hadn't ever really done either of them in front of anyone. Except his friend Libby. I'm honestly surprised the poor kid didn't need counseling. Nate seemed dislike is parents. Especially his dad. He seemed dislike his dad and resent him for being a janitor. I really didn't see why. I mean sure, his dad didn't make a lot of money, but that's no reason to resent him. Besides him being a janitor I really didn't know any other reason for Nate to really not like his dad, but for some reason, he really didn't like him. One of my favorite parts of the book was when Nate's mom showed up and Nate was rude to her. I mean it seemed kind of out of character, but I still loved it. When I was reading that part I was just thinking "Yeah, you go Nate! Tell that women!". I personally found Nate's mother more dislikable than his father (though neither were great people). The reconcile between Nate's mom and Aunt was rushed and made no since. They just started hugging each other and suddenly, they're ok with each other again. It made literally no since. I pretty much disliked all of Nate's (household) family, but I think I might have been supposed to. Nate's (and his aunt's) experience with religion really saddened me. It just reminds me that it really is religious people who bring a bad name to religion. Even though it was somewhat accurate, I kind of wish the book hadn't painted all religious people with the same brush. We aren't all like that. My favorite character was Freckles. He wish he was in more of the book. He was really awesome, and I was kind of sad that we never got to learn his real name. Some parts of the book were unrealistic and sometimes the character's seemed to kind of stupid. The plot was pretty good. The writing was fine. One part of the book that kind of annoyed me was all the crying. It seemed like every few chapter, someone was crying about something. It got old after a while. Something else that annoyed me was it always seemed like Nate was going to get cut, but then he ends up not getting cut. That that's a tool that's used in movies and books all the time. And it's not a bad one. I mean it works about twice, but if you do it 4 to 6 times...
  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from December 17, 2012
    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.

  • Kirkus

    January 1, 2013
    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(2013) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • School Library Journal

    March 1, 2013

    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

    Copyright 2013 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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