I could go a lot of different ways in this 10 minute review of Better Nate Than Ever. We could look at the importance of a middle grade novel that deals with a 13 year old boy trying figure out his sexual identity. We could look at the great and daring adventure Mr. Federle takes us on, or maybe I could focus on the beautiful friendship that Nate and Libby share. This is a 10 minute review, so I have no idea where I am going to go, but I would like to say that for many reasons I feel that Better Nate Than Ever has a place in every middle school classroom and school library.
One thing that I loved so much about this book was how it helped me as a teacher develop a deeper understanding for a boy like Nate. I’m not just talking about him dealing with whether or not he is gay or straight. Nate is totally consumed by theatre.
When I was a kid, I was totally consumed by sports. I have never been able to: sing a lick, read a note of music, dance, or act. Understanding people that have a passion for these things is something that I struggle to understand. As a kid I never would have thought anyone would want to play Elliot in a Broadway showing of E.T. as much as I wanted to play center field for the Detroit Tigers.
I’m hoping that kids that might not totally understand someone like Nate, can read Better Nate Than Ever, and see that his passion isn’t all that different from their own. I also hope that kids like Nate, can read Better Nate Than Ever, and see themselves on the page.
If you are looking for a book that could quite possibly change the lives of many of your students, I highly recommend Tim Federle’s Better Nate Than Ever.