five six seven nate
the story of nathan foster continues
Tim Federle’s sequel to his Young Adult novel Better Nate than Ever continues the odyssey of the eponymous Nathan Foster.
Nathan or “Nate” seems rather like the gay best friend who escaped from being second banana in someone else’s teen dramady or romcom. In this book Nate has left his small town middle school for Broadway to pursue his big break - one line in ET: The Musical, as Alien Number 7. At first it looks like Nate’s basic nerdiness will leave him unable to avoid tripping over his own toes away from the action, but the power of his love for Broadway shines through in the end - along with his talent for making friends in the least likely places…
Nate is the first person narrator of the story and his voice is strongly realized (to the point that the narrative voice actually uses "go" for "say" - as in " 'That was close', I go"). I understand Federle was a Broadway child actor himself and clearly delights in drawing sketches of the colourful characters that inhabit Nate's rarefied musical world - catty choreographers, young wunderkind directors out of their depth, and shamanic prop masters. Federle also brings a gentle and sympathetic touch to the mysteries of middle school hormones.
There are some rough edges to Federle's writing and a subplot about a friend who's mother is struggling with cancer casts an unexpected shadow, threatening to steal focus from Nate a few times - almost turning him back into the gay best friend in someone else's narrative.
Overall though, it’s a snappy, fast read and it works on the strength of it’s sympathetic, likeable narrator.
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