Summary: Not Starring Zadie Louise
There’s one thing to note about this summer’s theater show: it will be NOT starring Zadie Louise. Because of tight financial circumstances, Zadie’s summer activities have all been replaced with helping out (or at least trying not to cause a disaster) in the theater where her mom directs plays. Unlike her older sister, Zadie is not interested in acting and would rather hang out with the lights and tech crew, but it seems that she ruins everything she touches! Soon everyone is frustrated with her — and on top of that, she finds out her grandma who lives in their basement is moving! Can Zadie find her place this summer?
I really liked this one. Zadie is lovable character with the best intentions. Unfortunately, things keep going awry and she can’t seem to catch a break. The great thing about her misadventures is that they’re funny and kids will have the giggles reading this one. I also think hyperactive kids who get into trouble for unintentional mischief will see themselves reflected in Zadie’s experiences.
Zadie also has an older sister who’s close in age, which makes for a fun sister relationship. The girls are pretty different from each other, but have a close bond and obviously love each other despite the normal sister squabbles. I liked the family scenes a lot and loved the family’s approach to dealing with financial strain. Zadie’s father who’s a private music teacher also has to take on another job as a cab-hailing app driver. Yet, they maintain a tranquil home for their kids instead of squabbling all the time.
Zadie is biracial, with a Latino father and we see his culture represented in the story. Her mom speaks a bit of Spanish as well, which is nice. The family has to also deal with Zadie’s grandmother (who’s the only one that makes her feel seen) moving away. Finally, the theater scenes were immersive and we learn a lot about what it takes to run a show, measure the cast for costumes, and keep the lighting and other tech stuff going,
Overall: Not Starring Zadie Louise
Not Starring Zadie Louise is a funny, relatable summer read that tackled the real issue of familial financial insecurity. I loved the warm family dynamics in Zadie’s multicultural home, the island town they live in, and the sweet relationship between Zadie and her grandma. Zadie is also passionate about STEM and space and is a boisterous protagonist who readers will love. I also liked McCullogh’s Across the Pond and I definitely recommend this one.