Summary: The Chance to Fly
Thirteen-year-old Nat Beacon has the chance to fly when she stumbles upon a group of kids putting on a production of Wicked, the musical. Nat has been paralyzed from the waist down since an accident when she was two. She’s also a wheelchair athlete whose parents have moved from California to New Jersey for her mother’s new job. Nat is obsessed with Broadway and Hamilton although she has never actually been in a musical.
Upon auditioning, she scores a role in the play and begins to bond with The Boulders, which is what the group calls themselves. The group is diverse, including Malik, an African-American boy and Reya whose Indian American. There’s also Hudson, Fig, Jacklyn, and Savannah. Nat faces several challenges because of the way some people treat her during the musical, but when the show has to be canceled after a fire in the theater, the kids have to find a way to get things up and running again.
I loved this book. Nat is a lovable character and so relatable on many levels. Her passion for singing and Broadway is infectious and her relationship with her parents as she tries to gain some more independence will tug at your heart. Her parents are also super supportive and because this book is co-written by Ali Stroker who is also a Broadway star with a disability, the OwnVoices details on using a wheelchair and how to treat disabled people are well written without being preachy.
I also loved The Boulders! They are such a great group of kids and they welcomed Nat with such open arms that I’m now convinced that theater people are right after book people where community is concerned. I loved seeing how things were handled with Nat’s crush on Malik and how she got to form individual relationships with nearly all the kids in the group. Savannah’s storyline was especially interesting, but I won’t spoil anything for you.
Finally, Nat’s best friend in California has cerebral palsy and uses a cane. Both girls experience a rough patch in their friendship after Nat moves, and I liked seeing how the author handled that part of the story. Plus, it was wonderful to have disability rep where disabled people did not have to be geniuses or anything extraordinary to matter. They were just kids like any others their age.
Overall: The Chance to Fly
The Chance to Fly is a sparkling debut with excellent OwnVoices disability representation. While this book highlights several challenges that wheelchair users face, from accessibility to minimal face-to-face interaction with their peers, it is at its heart a book about a love for the stage. Theater kids will be all over this one, as well as anyone who enjoys books about large friendship groups and warm parent-child dynamics.
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I received an eARC of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.