Synopsis: A heartfelt middle-grade novel about a theater-loving girl who uses a wheelchair for mobility and her quest to defy expectations—and gravity—from Tony award–winning actress Ali Stroker and Stacy Davidowitz
Thirteen-year-old Nat Beacon loves a lot of things: her dog Warbucks, her best friend Chloe, and competing on her wheelchair racing team, the Zoomers, to name a few. But there’s one thing she’s absolutely OBSESSED with: MUSICALS! From Hamilton to Les Mis, there’s not a cast album she hasn’t memorized and belted along to. She’s never actually been in a musical though, or even seen an actor who uses a wheelchair for mobility on stage. Would someone like Nat ever get cast?
But when Nat’s family moves from California to New Jersey, Nat stumbles upon auditions for a kids’ production of Wicked, one of her favorite musicals ever! And she gets into the ensemble! The other cast members are super cool and inclusive (well, most of them)— especially Malik, the male lead and cutest boy Nat’s ever seen. But when things go awry a week before opening night, will Nat be able to cast her fears and insecurities aside and “Defy Gravity” in every sense of the song title?
Release Date: 13th April 2021
Format Read: Ebook
Genres: Theatre, Friendship, Disability, Contemporary, Coming of Age, Teen, Musical, Middle Grade, Diversity
Thank you so much to Abrams Kids/ Amulet Books for the earc to read and review.
Review: Standing ovation for this beautiful story, this book was refreshing to read a perfect theatrical coming of age story with the protagonist being in a wheel chair. Seriously why didn’t books like this exist when I was a teenager? Seeing how easy and natural this was, we need so many books like this in the world. Representation matters and is vital for others to get to see that.
Natty was such an amazing realistic teen protagonist filled with all the emotion as a teen would have but also filled with determination, bravery, her own identity, strength. She was seriously so likeable, yes she was in a wheelchair and felt like that’s all people saw about her but she learns that’s not true. I loved her character, I was excited and rooting for her, I even happy cried for her at the incredible news further in the story. I loved her so much.
Not only was Natty an incredible character this whole book was filled with an array of characters you couldn’t not sink into and feel close too, like Hudson who was honestly the most supportive and caring friend in the world who saw past her wheelchair and saw the talented girl within it. Rey, Malik, Jac, Fig, etc, the characters were all amazing in this story. Savannah Alexis, Chloe both did infuriate me for short bits of the story but you also can’t help but connect with them eventually when you learn more and feel their hearts too. The characters were fantastically written.
I loved that every single page had theatre in it and, it put the songs in my head constantly, though theatre is so popular now (now I am singing Popular in my head) there is so rarely a story like this written and I cannot say how much I loved getting to read this story. The fact that Natty took a chance did what everyone around her said that won’t be possible and actually proved them wrong, she showed up, auditioned and knew deep in her heart theatre was her true calling and then blew everyone away.
From the incredible group of friends, to the theatre, shows and songs references, to the representation, to the you can do what you dream of message, to overcoming boundaries and issues, to first crushes, to defying gravity this book is wonderful. I loved it all so much I wish I knew the right words to say for how much I loved it because I seriously really loved it.
This book is important. This book is so easy to read, so fun, such an incredible escape, so refreshing, this coming of age story of a theatre loving girl who reaches her dreams and makes life long friends and ultimately who lets nothing stop her or get in her way of having her dreams come true.
Where to buy: Amazon U.K., Amazon USA, Book Depository
About Author: Ali Stroker: Ali Stroker won the 2019 Tony Award for Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical for her role as Ado Annie in Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Oklahoma! She made history as the first actor in a wheelchair to appear on Broadway when she originated the role of Anna in Deaf West’s revival of Spring Awakening. Ali is also the first actress in a wheelchair to graduate from NYU’s Tisch drama program. Ali has appeared on The Glee Project, Glee, Ten Days in the Valley, Lethal Weapon, Instinct, and Drunk History. In addition to her performing, Ali has been a cochair of Women Who Care, which supports United Cerebral Palsy of NYC. She cofounded Be More Heroic, an anti-bullying of NYC. She cofounded Be More Heroic, an anti-bullying campaign. In addition, she has led theater workshops for South African women and children affected by HIV and AIDS. Ali’s dedication to improving lives through the arts, disabled or not, is captured in her motto: “Making Your Limitations Your Opportunities.” Ali is a founding member of TAG Theater Company and lives in New York City with her boyfriend, David. alistroker.com.
About Author: Stacy Davidowitz: Stacy Davidowitz is the author of the Camp Rolling Hills series and coauthor of Camp Rolling Hills the Musical, which continues to have productions across the country. She is also the author of the Hanazuki chapter-book series based on Hasbro’s YouTube series. Stacy has written award-winning plays that have been produced regionally and internationally, and are published by Broadway Play Publishing, Stage Rights, and YouthPLAYS. When she is not writing, she teaches creative writing and musical theater in schools, foster care facilities, and juvenile detention centers. She is a proud graduate of Tufts University and Columbia University, where she earned degrees in drama and acting. Fun fact: Growing up, she was in seven productions of Annie. Stacy lives in Manhattan with her husband and twin boys. stacydavidowitz.com.