From bestselling YA rom-com queen Becky Albertalli (author of Love, Simon) comes a new novel about daring to step out of the shadows and into the spotlight in love, life and theatre.
[PRINCIPAL CAST LIST]
Best friends, and contrary to popular belief, not co-dependent. Examples:
Carpooling to and from theatre rehearsals? Environmentally sound and efficient.
Consulting each other on every single life decision? Basic good judgment.
Pining for the same guys from afar? Shared crushes are more fun anyway.
But when Kate and Andy’s latest long-distance crush shows up at their school, everything goes off-script.
Enter Stage Left: Matt Olsson
He is talented and sweet, and Kate likes him. She really likes him. The only problem? So does Anderson.
Turns out, communal crushes aren’t so fun when real feelings are involved. This one might even bring the curtains down on Kate and Anderson’s friendship…
Being totally upfront, I absolutely adored this book. I cannot remember the last time I fell in love with a book so hard and so fast, which is absolutely appropriate considering the way Kate and her best friend Andy go through crushes. Partway through the book I even went and watched a certain musical – one I’d never even heard of before – because I really needed to see it!
Becky Albertalli is a fantastic writer, who really gets into the skin of her characters. She clearly cares about them, and it comes through so well in her writing. This book even gave me flashbacks to my own high school days. Do you ever really forget your crushes? The people who make your heart flutter just by walking past you in a hallway, or the whole reason you go watch the school musical in the first place.
Kate Garfield and Anderson Walker are best friends. Absolutely and completely, the kind who would never let anyone come between them. They even have communal crushes, which normally involves meeting some cute guy at camp and pining over him on their return to school. But when their latest crush turns up at their school, things become more difficult, as both Kate’s and Andy’s feelings for Matt Olsson deepen.
Here’s the thing – I have always loved musicals. And my high school was well known for the big productions they put on yearly. I was in one of them once, but I still managed to go see the musicals every year and, yep, my first big high school crush was one of the guys who was always in them. (Sidenote: the one I was in, I said at the start of Year 12 when asked if I’d be auditioning, “The only one I’d audition for is if they did We Will Rock You.” As if they ever would. Flash forward a few weeks later to the announcement of that year’s musical and…yep, my friends gave me pointed, well now you have to kind of looks.)
I was always kind of outside the “main” theatre kids (lack of singing ability) but I still have fond memories not just of the musical, but a play production too. When Kate talks of the comradery felt when putting on a production, the way you interact, trust each other, form friendships even if they don’t last past the final night, I understood it. And I understood the pain both Andy and Kate felt, as they try to work out which of them Matt might like more.
The relationship between them is so wonderful to see, along with all the confusion and uncertainty that comes with being a teenager, the fear of losing your friends. Another element I adored was the relationship Kate had with her brother. Ryan doesn’t exactly move in the same crowds as her, and though they have grown apart, it’s easy to see how close they once were, and how Kate still looks up to him, even if she doesn’t quite admit that to herself.
I love books like this, where teens just get to be teens, wrestle with the influx of hormones and the way everything feels both end of the world and start of the world at that age. I may be a good few years outside this age range, but this book reminded me so completely of what being a teenager meant. It’s adorable and fluffy but there are still edge of your seat and tear-inducing moments. This one comes highly recommended from me.
Thank you to Penguin for providing me a copy of this book via NetGalley, and to The WriteReads for including me on this tour.
Becky Albertalli is the author of the acclaimed novels Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda (film: Love, Simon), The Upside of Unrequited, and Leah on the Offbeat. She is also the co-author of What If It’s Us with Adam Silvera. A former clinical psychologist who specialized in working with children and teens, Becky lives with her family in Atlanta. You can visit her online at www.beckyalbertalli.com.
Twitter: @beckyalbertalli / Website