Cirrus’s Book Club Introduction:

We’ve got “Sealed with a Kiss” and “Wet Dream of the Week” and “Movie Monday” and “Jimmy’s Jukebox”… …but I think there’s still a gap in the market for another weekly article.

Ladies and gentleman… Cirrus’ Book Club!

I’m going to be reviewing books I like that I think would be of interest to the Shack audience. So expect books about gay people, books about teenagers, books about gay teenagers, and books that I decided to review just because I think they’re interesting and worth your time.

But wait!

That’s not all!

I know for all the aspiring internet authors out there, it can be a challenge getting feedback. You work on your creation, you release it into the wild… and tumbleweeds. Did they like it? Did they hate it? Gimme some kind of reaction here folks!

Comsie was doing reviews for a while… and they were detailed and thoughtful and thorough. But as you may have noticed, Comsie is hella busy between answering emails (so many emails!), trying to write stories fast enough to satisfy his ravenous fan base, posting stuff to the message board, and you know, occasionally doing fun stuff outside the internet.

So to give some authors the time in the spotlight they deserve, I’d like to start reviewing stories. If you’ve written a story you want me to review, post a link in reply to this post, or any of the Cirrus’ Book Club posts. My only criteria: I’m only going to review COMPLETE stories.

There are a couple of reasons for that. Some internet stories simply grind to a halt in an incomplete state… and I don’t want to recommend a story that never gets finished. Also some stories take a while to find their groove, or evolve as they go along, and how I feel about the story at the end might be quite different from the start.

With that out of the way – let’s do our first review.

“Better Nate than Ever” and “Five Six Seven Nate” by Tim Federle

This pair of books focuses on that very specific high-school archetype: the musical theatre kid. Thirteen year old Nate Foster is short, heavy, and obsessed with Broadway… all of which contribute to him getting bullied a *lot* at his small town Pennsylvania school. Then he hears about open auditions for “E.T. : The Musical” and he literally runs away to New York to try and get a part.

Nate’s hopes and dreams teeter on the edge of disaster at every turn as he narrowly rescues himself from one calamity after another. As a small-town kid in New York for the first time, Nate is alternatively awestruck (“That must be the largest Applebee’s in the world!”) and terrified (he imagines that Kristin Chenowerth will greet him in full song at the Port Authority Bus Terminal, then someone will hand out mace to newcomers). He’s also entering the world of Broadway theatre, filled with over-ambitious stage parents and the larger than life personalities of show business (such as the neophyte director who made his name in video games).

Lurking in the background as a sort of undercurrent to the main plotlines is Nate’s sexuality. In his own words:

My sexuality, by the way, is off-topic and unrelated. I am undecided. I am a freshman at the College of Sexuality and I have undecided my major, and frankly don’t want to declare anything other than “Hey, jerks, I’m thirteen, leave me alone. Macaroni and cheese is still my favourite food – how would I know who I would want to hook up with?”

It’s never an issue that’s really front and centre in the books, but it’s always sort of subtly standing off-stage, watching from the curtains.

It’s a fun pair of books, suitable for mature tweens and up. Recommended if you like reading books about outcasts triumphing over adversity, Broadway musicals or slapstick comedy. Tim Federle, the author, apparently really did run away to New York as a teenager to try and make it on Broadway, so its fascinating as a behind the scenes look at just how musicals get made.

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