Book Review

Kate In Waiting

Kate in Waiting

  • Author: Becky Albertalli
  • Genre: YA Romance
  • Publication Date: April 20, 2021
  • Publisher: Balzer + Bray

CONTENT WARNING: profanity

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Contrary to popular belief, best friends Kate Garfield and Anderson Walker are not codependent. Carpooling to and from theater rehearsals? Environmentally sound and efficient. Consulting each other on every single life decision? Basic good judgment. Pining for the same guys from afar? Shared crushes are more fun anyway.

But when Kate and Andy’s latest long-distance crush shows up at their school, everything goes off-script. Matt Olsson is talented and sweet, and Kate likes him. She really likes him. The only problem? So does Anderson.

Turns out, communal crushes aren’t so fun when real feelings are involved. This one might even bring the curtains down on Kate and Anderson’s friendship.

I’ve only read one other Becky Albertalli book before (which I absolutely adored), but after seeing all the hype about this, I placed a hold on this book. It took forever to arrive, but I couldn’t wait to jump into this story. And let me tell you, it sucked me in right away.

The first thing I noticed was that it made me want to love musicals. The drama crowd in my high school (while admittedly long ago) was such a diverse and interesting group of people, but seeing as how I was painfully shy and had a complete lack of musical talent, that was never my circle of people. Also, I can’t make it through a musical for some reason. They’re just not my thing, although I have the utmost admiration for the talent and immense amounts of work that go into them. Which is so clear in this story.

Kate, Anderson, and their squad are quintessential theater nerds (for lack of a better term to describe them). They live for musicals, watch or listen to them in their spare time, and put so much time and effort into putting them on. I was fascinated at the backstage view into their experiences. Just reading it made me feel almost like I was back in high school.

Which brings me to seriously the only thing that I didn’t absolutely love about this book — the sheer number of f-bombs that are used throughout the book. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have anything against the word itself. I use it myself all the time. But it was a little jarring to see it used so frequently in a YA book. As in, on basically every page, often multiple times. 

As for the characters, I fell in love with them, even the side characters. I obviously adored Kate, since the story is from her POV. She’s a total sweetheart, if a bit of a pushover. She’s a great combination of well-rounded, insecure, confident, and has an amazing support group of close friends. Her parents are divorced, so she and her older brother split their time between her parents’ houses, and I enjoyed watching the realistic dynamic between the siblings. But it also talks about her codependent relationship with Anderson, and how they’ve always had crushes on the same guys (all of which have gone nowhere until now):

“If a crush is really. Going to take hold, Andy has to like the guy too. Otherwise, this switch in me flips—and suddenly it’s not electrifying and the boy isn’t cute and the whole situation goes sour. And Andy’s almost as bad when it comes to me.”

There’s a lot of diversity representation in the story and it didn’t come off as forced to me. Kate and a few other characters in the story are Jewish, her best friend is Black and gay, one of her other best friends is bi and trans, and there’s a side character in a wheelchair. All of it was put into the story smoothly, and it seemed to be addressed sensitively (although a lot of these aren’t my representations to address). If I’m wrong, please correct me. The Jewish representation, however, was spot-on. Kate’s character is conservative Jewish, and I honestly wish that books like this were around when I was growing up so I could have seen characters like myself in books as a teen. I especially loved that the characters bucked against stereotypes amongst themselves.

“‘He’s our best friend who’s gay, not our Gay Best Friend. And we don’t do outfit approval.’”

Obviously, when Kate and Andy’s crush appears at their school and winds up being in the musical with them, I knew something was going to happen. I was torn between wanting to savor every moment of this book, and wanting to read it quickly to find out what happened. Because I knew that one of them was going to wind up with hurt feelings. And no matter how strong a friendship is, it’s always tough to survive a communal crush that is going to end up with one person being hurt. 

“But every time I talk to Matt, the Anderson stuff bubbles right back up to the surface. Anderson likes this boy. Anderson really likes this boy. But I really like this boy, too. And it’s all turning out to be a little more complicated that I thought it would be.”

There was a section in the middle that got pretty angsty. I found it easier to empathize with Kate, probably because the story was in her POV, but it kind of felt like Andy was being a bit of a jerk. I’m sure if I read the story from Andy’s POV I would have felt differently. Kate explains why real life is so much more difficult, and why she prefers theater:

“In a play, everything’s planned out and controlled, even the dramatic parts. But nothing in real life is like that. Real life is chaos. You always end up lurching the wrong way, yelling the wrong thing, and drowning in all the wrong emotions.”

Ultimately, I fell in love with this story! I can definitely see what all the hype was about, and it’s completely deserved. It’s a great story, and I loved the emphasis on friendships that ran throughout the book. Becky Albertalli has absolutely earned her space on my favorite authors list with this one.

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