Book For Teens: Better Nate Than Ever By Tim Federle

You need to know that Better Nate Than Ever is a charming story of a boy who sneaks away from home and falls in love with New York City. He takes his brother's fake ID and his mom's ATM card and lies to adults. His conscience weighs on him, but he's focused on his goal: to audition for a Broadway musical. While Nate says his sexuality remains "undecided," he's routinely bullied for being gay and shows some interest in boys. His family has had problems with alcoholism and infidelity. The publisher recommends this title for ages 9 and older: We recommend 10 and up due to the mature themes and language. It can be a good choice for younger kids, but risks introducing anti-gay slurs to more sheltered kids.

Better Nate Than Ever, Tim Federle

Better Nate Than Ever, Tim Federle

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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. Tim 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. 

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