Becky Albertalli’s latest offering, Kate in Waiting, is full of geeky theatre kids and explores the nightmare scenario we all dread: what happens when you and your best friend fall in love with the same boy?
Kate Garfield and Anderson Walker, best friends forever, have always crushed on the same guys. For Kate, sharing her crush with Andy is always half the fun—together they can over analyze every conversation, every look, and squeal over it all. And what’s even better: most of these crushes happen at camp and never make it into the real world.
Kate’s love of theatre has always been unrequited. Despite dedicating her life to running lines, listening to cast albums on repeat, and auditioning every year with high hopes, she is always cast as part of the ensemble. She starts to lose hope, wondering if she’ll ever gain the spotlight of her dreams.
This year, though, everything is different. Kate is cast in the fall musical, Once Upon a Mattress, not as the lead, but still as a major part, with solos and lines! Their summer crush, Matt Olssen, has also just moved to town. Kate and Andy think they can handle steering clear of him, but in reality, they both start spending more time with Matt. He’s cute, talented, and really sweet. Kate starts to feel herself falling in love with him… like, real love.
Unfortunately, Andy thinks he loves Andy too. Without Andy, Kate only feels like half a person, but she also isn’t sure she can deny her feelings. Will fighting over Matt be enough to destroy her friendship?
Another thing throwing Kate for a loop is her brother’s best friend, Noah, who is a certified “fuckboy.” He plays baseball, gets drunk at parties, and makes out with girl after girl. Yet all of the sudden, he is auditioning for the school play and constantly in her face. It drives her crazy, but also, with all the drama going on around her, hanging out with Noah and her brother, who is leaving for college soon, feels like an escape.
Probably my favorite part of this book was how unabashedly nerdy it was. I’ve always been a theatre kid, and my Broadway obsession has only grown over the pandemic, so the constant musicals references made me so happy. Kate and Andy both adore Tangled and Les Miserables, two of my all time favorites, and make constant analogies to them, which I really appreciated.
But while I enjoyed that aspect, I think this book would still be accessible to non-musical fans. It’s an important part of the story, but you don’t need to understand every reference, the same way I can enjoy YA about being in marching band or into computer programming, even though I know nothing about either of those things.
I also loved the characters in this story and their relationships to each other. In addition to Kate and Andy, Raina and Brandie round out the squad. Both girls had distinct personalities and were completely adorable. All four of them had a codependent, but great relationship that felt authentic and heartwarming.
My personal favorite character was Noah, because he had great one-liners and fantastic banter with Kate that made me laugh out loud. Kate’s voice came across so clearly in this book—it is written exactly how she thinks, which is so fun to dive into. She’s loud, dramatic, and funny, and I really enjoyed spending time in her head.
The one complaint I had with this book is that it didn’t focus enough on Kate’s time in the spotlight. Early on, getting her first speaking role is a huge deal to her, but for most of the book, the relationship drama takes up most of the page time, and while that drama is super fun, I would’ve enjoyed more time seeing Kate adjust to being a leading lady.
For theatre kids and non-theatre kids, Becky Albertalli certified fans and newcomers alike, Kate in Waiting is the perfect YA to add to your TBR list!