Better Nate Than Ever by Tim Federle
13-year-old Nate's love of musical theater invites teasing and torment by his peers and his older brother, but he is certain that he belongs on the Broadway stage. Right now, he'd be thrilled just to see a Broadway stage. When his folks go out of town leaving Nate and his brother mostly-unsupervised, Nate grabs the opportunity for escape, and heads out on a Greyhound bus bound for NYC and a Broadway audition for "E.T: the Musical."
Of course, nothing goes according to plan. Aided by a long-lost auntie, his BFF Libby back home, and a few surprising allies, Nate does arrive safely (if somewhat crumpled by the journey) and auditions for the part of Elliot.
Nate's voice throughout the story is hilarious. He doesn't know much, and he doesn't know how much he doesn't know, but he's got a goal and he's got guts, and he's got a sense of humor (which helps a lot if you don't know much).
There's some bullying, some very unhelpful parents, and some cussing (he's a starstruck 13-year-old boy stuck in Jankburk, PA -- he has reason to cuss), plus one near-miss kiss. Nate questions his own value as well as his sexuality, but through it all, he's determined to get up on that stage to sing. How can we not applaud?
Recommended for ages 12 and up.