Monday, July 2, 2018

Middle Grade Monday and arc review: Nate Expectations by Tim Federle

Nate Expectations by Tim Federle. 192 p. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, September 18, 2018. 9781481404129.

Poor Nate Foster! When E.T.: the musical fails to receive a single Tony nomination, it closes. Nate is devastated; because unlike Jordan, who has landed a television show role, Nate is heading back to Jankburg, PA and high school. Luckily, he still has his bff, Libby. Still, he's not looking forward to being on the receiving end of cruel comments and trying to maintain a long-distance "relationship" with Jordan. 

When his English teacher assigns Charles Dickens' Great Expectations and wants his students to create a memorable project, Nate decides to launch a musical production of the classic. His teacher is skeptical; but with his sort of newfound fame and Libby by his side as his producer, he just might pull it off.

Readers of the first two Nate books are in for a treat. Nate Expectations was the perfect (sob) ending to the trilogy. Nate is a great character. He maintains a positive attitude but expects the worst. These books are his first-person narration and he is hilariously funny. I read this in the airport waiting room and on my flight to New Orleans a little over a week ago and was just laughing out loud. A lot. Some people might have moved away from me. I know my seat-mates on the plane wanted to.

Nate is a theater kid and his encyclopedic knowledge of all things Broadway is impressive and instructive. He even slips in a bit about the sadly short-lived musical, Tuck Everlasting, whose libretto Tim Federle co-wrote. Nate's homecoming could've gone so many ways. His parents aren't the best and they've been having some trouble in their marriage. His brother was a legend at his high school. How can Nate measure up? I will leave it to readers to discover. It was sublime. 

I've read the two earlier Nate books, Better Nate Than Ever and Five, Six, Seven, Nate! both with my eyes and then with my ears. I plan on doing so with Nate Expectations as well. Federle is a superb narrator. This trilogy is a love letter to theater kids and a must-purchase for all kinds of libraries. 

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