Nate Foster is passionate about singing – a passion few people in his life understand, least of all his sporty big brother Anthony. Overweight, small for his age and the constant victim of bullies, Nate dreams of leaving smalltown Pennsylvania behind for the bright lights of New York City and the chance to star in a Broadway musical. When his best friend and co-conspirator Libby tells him about auditions for ET, Nate knows he must seize this rare chance. He hops on a bus for New York, armed with a bag of mini donuts, some spare underwear, a lucky rabbit’s foot, his mother’s ATM card and a heart full of dreams.
Nate is an endearing character who the reader will be cheering and cringing for in equal measure. First he must face the challenges of getting around New York and dealing with wardrobe malfunctions, but these are nothing compared to the cutthroat world of professional theatre. The author draws on his own experience of showbiz to portray the big egos and ruthlessness involved, from the casting agents to the would-be child stars and their pushy parents.
This is mostly a light-hearted read with plenty of comedy, but every now and then comes a moment which touches on darker themes. The broken relationship between Nate’s mother and his aunt Heidi, the difficulties in his parents’ marriage and the illness faced by Libby’s mother give added depth to the book. Above all, at the heart of the story is Nate’s struggle to come to terms with who he really is.