I received an eARC copy of the book to read and review as part of the Book Blog Tour organised by @The_WriteReads onTour Team and @PenguinUKBooks. All opinions are my own unbiased, honest thoughts. Kate in Waiting was released on April 22nd, so should be available now at UK retailers.
Date Started: 20th April 2021
Date Finished: 24th April 2021
Days Taken to Read: 5 days
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.Kate in Waiting – Official Book Blurb
Kate in Waiting is the story of Kate Garfield, a self proclaimed theatre kid. As she enters her Junior year of High School, she and her ‘squad’, (Raina, Brandie and best friend Andy) can’t wait to find out the school musical for the year. With dreams of a lead role to overcome a traumatic Middle Grade experience at a variety show, everything starts to take an unexpected turn when Andy and Kate’s communal camp crush, Matt Olsson, transfers to their school. And their past shared crush cuteness begins to cause some tension.
I have read several Becky Albertalli books in the past with mixed results – Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda I really loved when I read it about 4 years ago and remember devouring in two days (even whilst visiting my brother who was studying abroad at the time). Leah on the Offbeat I had mixed feelings about and I didn’t love What If It’s Us. But I wanted to read this story as I also have The Upside of Unrequited and Yes, No, Maybe So on my TBR.
Thankfully I am really pleased to say that I enjoyed Kate in Waiting a lot. It was the kind of YA contemporary that I think I really needed at this point in time. Having said that, I did feel the book was somewhat predictable – I haven’t read loads of YA contemporary (but I am an adult so maybe that counterbalances it), yet the major plot points I did guess early on. Including what would happen with Matt, and another individual who I had flagged as a love interest for one of our main characters. As this is a contemporary novel (rather than a mystery or thriller), I don’t personally consider predictability to be a major issue. I want to fall in love with characters and find myself rooting for them, which I definitely experienced during this book. But I would say this could be a turn off for anyone looking for something more unique.
My personal turn off was the constant, repetitive use of the term f-boys/f-girls. I’m not a teenager, nor have been for a good 8 years – so maybe this term is used a lot by current teens. But I don’t remember at school ever referring to a specific group of people (especially one I had little to no interest in) during my school experience as much as Kate does with the f-boys. She is nearly as fixated on them as she is on the musical! So any teens out there – I would love to know your thoughts on the frequency of f-boys.
But moving on from those negatives, there is a lot I do want to praise about this book (including introducing me to a musical I had never heard of before in my life). Like most contemporaries, I think it requires you to be engaged with the characters. Whether that is because you love the characters or just want to know what they’ll do next, often times they carry the build of the story and plot. Becky Albertalli managed to build up a cast of characters that kept me interested and invested throughout. As a result, I found I wanted them to all have a ‘happy for now’ ending, which give a number of scenes more emotional heft as I briefly doubted my initial predictions for the ending.
Another thing I enjoyed in this story was the non-romantic relationships. All the crushes and romance was great, but actually I would argue that the depiction of friendships and sibling/parental relationships felt like they were as important, if not more. Which to me feels more accurate and realistic for the age group. All relationships can experience turbulence during the teen years and watching Kate and Ryan trying to figure out quite how they were with each other as siblings throughout was delightful.
The cast is diverse: race, homosexuality, religion and gender are all covered. I cannot speak for the accuracy of the representation in this novel, so would advise looking to an own voices reviewer if this was something you wanted further details on.
Kate felt authentic, sometimes she made mistakes that were frustrating or bemusing, other times I felt I sided with her when there were arguments or accusations. Anderson/Andy her best friend was equally wonderful. Weirdly my personal favourite was Noah, a sweet, goofball who finds himself becoming part of the musical after an injury changes one of his classes.
Overall, I think anyone who enjoys musical theatre and/or young adult contemporaries will not be disappointed.
About the Author
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.
TLDR: Delightful musical contemporary following the ups and downs of Kate’s journey through Junior year of High School.