Word Spelunking

Better Nate Than Ever - Tim Federle Better Nate Than Ever was such a complete joy to read (devour, really)! This book sparkles and shines as bright as the lights of Broadway, and is as heartwarming as it is hilarious. Debut author Tim Federle has delivered a smash hit and has done so with addicting charm and flair.In Better Nate Than Ever we follow Nate Foster as he sets out on a big journey to make his dreams come true. Nate dreams of starring in a Broadway show and with the ingenious help of his BFF Libby, he concocts an exciting plan. When his parents go on a weekend trip and leave Nate in the care of his teenage brother, Nate and Libby put their plan in motion and Nate finds himself on an overnight bus trip to NYC and to an audition for E.T.: The Musical. Nate is dazzled by the city, but soon finds that navigating the streets (and people) of the big city isn't as easy as he hoped. And auditioning for a Broadway show is nothing like Nate imagined. But with a little help from a long lost relative and Libby back home, and a lot of courage and heart, Nate has one heck of an adventure and may just see his dreams come home.Better Nate Than Ever is wildly entertaining, laugh-out-loud funny, surprisingly poignant, and dazzling all over. I simply fell in love with Federle's story, characters, and voice. Federle brings Nate's story to life with a pitch-perfect and captivating middle-grade voice. Federle captures the often confusing, painful, and cringe-worthy middle-grade years in a way that young readers will relate to and older readers will appreciate. Federle is a fantastic storyteller with buckets of writing talent. Nate's world isn't a perfect one, in fact, it's pretty far from perfect. His love of singing and Broadway musicals hasn't made him popular among his peers and often leads to much teasing by classmates and his own brother, his home-life is rocky with parents that have an unstable marriage and don't relate well to Nate, and Nate feels like an outcast in his school, home, and small town...all of which Federle explores with such unabashed honesty, humor, and heart, and Federle holds nothing back. Nate's journey to NYC and Broadway fame is an addicting, and awesomely unpredictable, one! Nate encounter's many different people and has many different experiences along the way: some that will leave you giggling, some that will leave you thoughtful, all super entertaining. I loved getting a first-hand look at the exciting, fast-paced, and, at times, utterly scary and competitive world of Broadway auditions! Federle clearly knows this world inside-out, and his knowledge and experience add wonderful and believable layers to Nate's story. Nate's audition process is equal parts disastrous, miraculous, and inspiring.Better Nate Than Ever has a brilliant cast of characters! Nate is a completely endearing, witty, and thoughtful main character. Readers will easily relate to Nate and will root and cheer for him the entire way. Libby is now one of my favorite MG heroines ever! This clever, fearless, funny, plucky, and loyal girl is an absolute gem of a character. And Libby and Nate have such a sweet, lovable friendship. Nate's quest for Broadway fame is a bumpy, moving, hilarious, and satisfying one. Better Nate Than Ever ends on a perfect note without being cheesy and unrealistic, which I appreciated.MY FINAL THOUGHTS: Tim Federle has crafted a story worthy of big musical numbers with sparkling lights, jazz hands, and all. With its humor, heart, honesty, and awesome characters, Better Nate Than Ever captured, amused, and delighted me from beginning to end. This is a MUST read for anyone who has ever dreamed big then dared to dream even bigger!

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