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.
My Rating: 4/5 Stars
Over the years, I’ve enjoyed Becky Albertalli’s books. I think the only one I haven’t yet read is her co-written novel with Aisha Saeed, Yes No Maybe So, and her book, The Upside of Unrequited, is one of my FAVORITE YA contemporaries. There was just something about her upcoming book’s synopsis, Kate in Waiting, that made me instantly add it to my TBR. The book follows Kate, a high school junior with a love for theatre, and her best friend’s crush on the same guy from the summer camp. Kate and Andy have had communal and often unrequited crushes on the same guys throughout their friendship and are ready to leave their crush on Matt behind at camp… until Matt transfers to their school. Suddenly the two are left to discover if either of their feelings for Matt are unrequited after all, as they all work on the school musical together.
I was fortunate enough to begin my 2021 reading with Kate in Waiting back in January. I really enjoyed jumping back into Becky Albertalli’s writing style and this new fictional high school world. Kate was such a fun protagonist. While the book is about her friendships with Andy & their squads and figuring out her relationship with Matt, the book is also super about her self-growth, as she begins to find herself outside of her friendship with Andy. Don’t get me wrong, Kate and Andy have such a solid and fun friendship, but their mutual feelings for Matt definitely strains their relationship. Kate often contemplates how she is to respect Andy’s feelings while dealing with her own emotions and spending some one-on-one time with Matt for the play. Maybe I’m biased because I genuinely loved Kate, but I thought Andy wasn’t so respectful of Kate’s own feelings. Becky Albertalli’s books always feature diversity surrounding religion (Kate is a Jewish female lead), sexuality and gender, and coming out was another element to the love triangle that made Kate and Andy’s boundaries for one another difficult.
Like I mentioned, the book isn’t just about Kate and Andy’s mutual crush, as the book is set during the fall musical that nearly all of their friends are working on. I really enjoyed that Andy and Kate had this squad of friends. Kate also delves into her family life, featuring her older brother Ryan and her unique situation as a child of divorced parents – Kate & Ryan split their time at their parents’ houses in the same town. Kate is Jewish, and there are various nods to her family’s Jewish traditions and life.
And of course I can’t forget Ryan’s best friend and their neighbor, Noah, who’s also in the school musical. I was rooting for Noah and Kate from the very beginning because I loved their humor and chemistry. One of my very few ‘complaints’ about the book is the use of Kate and her friends’ use of the term ‘f-boy.’ Maybe this is the twenty-something in me who knows how this term is used based on my own high school and college experiences… but I felt like Kate used the term ‘f-boy’ (and even ‘f-girl’) to describe any jock or ‘cool’ kid in her school (and often Kate and her friends aren’t too fond of these people). Kate does acknowledge at some point that this is just a term her and her friends use. Although there are hints of it, I wish she would’ve acknowledged that maybe some of her classmates (like Noah) don’t deserve being described this way.
Kate’s view of her classmates results from an embarrassing incident in middle school that she dives into during the book and has affected her confidence until now. Kate’s self-growth was one of my favorite aspects, as she takes on a role in the musical and again, begins to form relationships and an identity outside of Andy. I actually really liked that despite her love for theatre and talent, it took a lot of self-encouragement for Kate to perform in front of others. I feel like most YA books I’ve read with a performing arts type character performs with no problem or being on stage is very natural to them, and I loved seeing Kate break this mold.
Overall, Kate in Waiting was a fun and heartfelt YA contemporary featuring all of the trademarks of Becky Albertalli’s books – friendship, self-growth & discover, family dynamics, relationships, and diversity, especially when it came to sexuality.
Kate in Waiting comes out on April 20, 2021.
This review is based on an advance reader’s edition provided by the publisher. By no means did this affect my thoughts & opinions.
Is Kate in Waiting on your TBR? What’s your favorite Becky Albertalli book? Are you a musical fan – what’s your favorite? Share in the comments!