Author Tim Federle has captured the hearts of young Broadway fans nationwide by setting a 13-year-old’s journey toward self-acceptance in New York City’s theater world.
HuffPost got an exclusive first look at the cover of Nate Expectations, the third ― and, for now, final ― book in the beloved series about budding thespian Nate Foster. In the follow-up to 2013′s Better Nate Than Ever and 2014′s Five, Six, Seven, Nate!, Nate is reminded that there’s more to life than sequins and the spotlight.
Rex Bonomelli, whose designs have graced books by Stephen King and James Patterson, created the cover art. When Nate Expectations hits retailers in September, the new printings of Better Nate Than Ever and Five, Six, Seven, Nate! will receive Bonomelli-designed covers, too.
Nate Expectations finds Nate returning to his Pennsylvania hometown after his Broadway debut draws more jeers than cheers. This unexpected change of plans (and location) doesn’t dampen Nate’s spirit or his wise-beyond-his-years wit, however, and he finds creative ways to put his theatrical chops to use in his suburban high school.
The teen has matured in other ways, too. Federle told HuffPost that his first two books about Nate aimed to capture “that period when you’ve not fully arrived at a ‘gay’ identity,” and that Nate Expectations sees its main character confidently identifying as gay.
Federle, himself a former Broadway performer, said he never anticipated Nate’s story would become a trilogy. But glowing reviews of the first two novels, praise from “Hamilton” composer Lin-Manuel Miranda and a slew of new readers convinced him otherwise.
“I got to thinking, Broadway itself is kind of a three-step process: hoping you’ll get there, getting there, and then, you know, dealing with life when the show closes or gets crappy reviews,” he said. “So it felt fitting to tell one more Nate story.”
The trilogy is intended for middle-grade readers between the ages of 8 and 12, but Federle said he’s been surprised at how adults have responded to the series. (Miranda’s praise, in particular, made him feel “like a 13-year-old theater kid all over again.”)
In the five years since the release of Better Nate Than Ever, Federle has expanded his literary oeuvre considerably. The 37-year-old scribe’s list of works now includes three cocktail recipe books, the 2016 young adult novel The Great American Whatever, and a self-help book called Life is Like a Musical: How to Live, Love, and Lead Like a Star. He has lent his talents to the stage and screen, too, co-writing the libretto of the 2016 Broadway musical adaptation of “Tuck Everlasting,” and the screenplay for 2017’s “Ferdinand,” which nabbed a Golden Globe nomination for Best Animated Feature.
Federle said he “feels incredibly lucky just to write anything for a living, period,” but named the Nate trilogy as the work he’s most proud of to date.
“I didn’t realize at the time of the second book’s release that I’d written the first-ever middle school kiss between two boys,” he said. “If I’d read characters like that when I was a kid myself, it would have saved me a lot of grief. And self-doubt.”
Nate Expectations hits shelves Sept. 18.