Saturday, February 15, 2014
Better Nate Than Ever, by Tim Federle
It's quite an adventure for a small-town kid, and Nate's innocent and wide-eyed love for the Big Apple is a major part of the book's charm. Nate learns in short order how to manage the chaos of the street as well as the ropes of the audition process, and he does both in his own unique way. Through the intervention of his long estranged aunt, he also learns some family history and opens some doors. And, while the subject of Nate's sexual orientation is addressed only fleetingly, it is obvious that he is beginning to have revelations on that front as well.
As with many books targeting middle readers, the frankness and sometimes "adult" nature of the story may make grownups squirm, but at a distance, it all seemed quite age appropriate. For children too young to understand everything, the sympathetic Nate and the lack of serious harm that befalls him will make the book entertaining and enjoyable. As a grownup, Nate's string of good luck seemed improbable, but it is in keeping with the spirit of this fun adventure, which promises a run of sequels.