Primary Genre(s): Middle Grade, Christian
Published: 5 May 2020 by Harvest House Publishers (expected)
Page count: 192
My Format: eARC via NetGalley
Cover: Cute, eye-catching
Would I recommend it: Yes
Commission Link: Buy The Outstanding Life of an Awkward Theater Kid
My rating: ★★★★☆
Synopsis from Goodreads
Flex is a football player, not an actor. But he can fake it if it means getting to see KK, the girl he’s dating (sort of—it’s complicated), every day after school for about a month. This play isn’t for the weak, though. First, Flex has to deal with his nemesis, Actor Boy, the guy who greets girls with kisses on either cheek. C’mon, dude. Really?!? Then there’s the whole Shakespeare thing. What was “Bill” thinking when he wrote this gobbledygook? Thou dost protest…seriously.
Meanwhile KK is hanging out with Watson, the King of the Youth Group, and no amount of video game playing is going to make Flex feel okay about that. He’d better get his jealousy in check before KK checks out on him for good.
But with some encouragement from Mimi and Pops (his mom and dad), a little advice from an unlikely ally, and a whole lot of truth from God’s awesome book, Flex might just turn his fear of failure into a performance befitting of the bard himself. Or at the very least, get KK to return his texts.
I came across this relatively short book on NetGalley the other day and since it was available immediately I thought I’d give it a shot. I love reading middle grade books and since this one was middle grade and Christian-focused I was intrigued. Here are my pros and cons for The Outstanding Life of an Awkward Theater Kid:
- I liked how this story put a football jock in the middle of a theater group. Flex only joined the theater to be closer to the girl he likes, but the set up was cute and it presented some interesting situations for Flex.
- I liked that the story had a Christian element and I particularly liked how Flex’s parents encouraged him to pray.
- Even if you take the Christian element out of the story, there are some great lessons in this book. Flex learned that his parents always love him even when he disappoints them. He learned that instead of being afraid to share his concerns and feelings with his parents, he should always share these things with them because they will always help him figure things out so he can do the right thing. Flex also learns that typecasting people, or making assumptions about them, is a bad thing. He learns that he should always give people a chance and get to know them on a personal level and not pass judgment on anyone based on stereotypes. He also learns that some people have misjudged him which surprises him greatly, but reinforces his decision not to judge people himself in the future. Finally, Flex learned that he shouldn’t believe in or pass along rumors.
- I have to share one passage, but be aware this is pre-publication and this quote may change. Flex is performing a Shakespeare play in his drama group and we all know Shakespeare can be challenging. At one point Flex states “The play is called The Winter’s Tale by William Shakespeare, who I like to call Bill. I don’t know a lot about Bill except that he seemed to like to use a hundred words where ten would suffice. Pops says this makes him not unlike our pastor.” I’m sorry, but that made me laugh out loud! 🙂
- I think this book might have been better as a graphic novel. It already has graphic novel elements throughout the book, but using prose and graphic novel elements together made the story feel a little choppy to me.
- The transitions between chapters were a little abrupt. I know this is done sometimes in middle grade books, but it particularly stood out to me as jarring in this one.
- I hate saying this, but some of the discussions about God and praying and confessing our sins didn’t occur organically in the story. They really stood out as preachy. If the author could incorporate those elements more naturally into the narrative I think the message would resonate better.
This is a cute book about a young male athlete completely out of his comfort zone. The best parts are that he learned a lot about how to treat people, how to trust his parents, how to have confidence in himself, and how to fit in anywhere… even if he didn’t learn to love Shakespeare!
This would be a great book for youth groups!
Thank you NetGalley and Harvest House Publishers for a free eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
If you would like to read this book and form your own opinion, please consider purchasing through this link: Buy The Outstanding Life of an Awkward Theater Kid. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases at no extra cost to you. Thanks!
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(image from Goodreads)