Summary: As If on Cue
In As If on Cue, sworn frenemies Natalie and Reid are forced to work together on a musical to save their school’s art programs after a prank by Natalie goes wrong. Reid is a band kid while Natalie is a scriptwriter, who used to play the clarinet (even before Reid). Natalie prefers to do the arts as a “fun hobby” — or so she tells herself — whereas Reid is serious about his music and wants to become a composer. The two are close family friends, their tween sisters are best friends, and Natalie’s dad teaches Reid how to play the clarinet. But as they work as co-directors, Natalie’s years-long resentment of Reid and his bond with her dad continues to rear it’s ugly head. Will their musical see the light of day?
This compelling story was also a lot to fun to listen to (on audio). The author alternates between their past as kids and their present, helping readers see what went wrong between them. I loved Reid and really liked Natalie even though she makes lots of poor, emotion-led decisions (what teen doesn’t?).
This book is centered on how budget cuts for the arts can affect kids whose hearts are in their art. Natalie and Reid’s school’s matching band is the main source of positive press and so the board want to cut funding for other after-school clubs. Natalie is miffed and determined to prove that musical theater can bring in good press too. I loved the way the author highlights their differing views of the arts and where their viewpoints come from. I also enjoyed the friendships between their sisters and the camaraderie among the cast mates.
A huge plot point in this story is being Jewish, anti-semitic sentiment and how Natalie and her family (including her tween sister) deal with it. Natalie’s sister is planning her Bar Mitzvah and gets prejudiced reactions from some mean girls in her school. It’s extra hurtful, because her best friend, Reid’s sister seems to be on the side of the mean girls. Ah, middle school. But both girls find a way to keep their friendship alive.
Reid and Natalie have a sweet romance and I liked the realistic way the author ties everything up nicely.
Overall: As If on Cue
As If on Cue is an entertaining enemies-to-lovers young adult novel full of love for music and the arts. With a realistically drawn female protagonist, a supportive family with parents in the arts, healthy friendships, and an adorable love interest, this one makes for enjoyable reading. If you’re on the hunt for YA that centers Jewish culture, religion, and characters, don’t miss this one.