Kate in Waiting
Balzer + Bray
Published April 20, 2021
About Kate in Waiting
Contrary to popular belief, best friends Kate Garfield and Anderson Walker are not codependent. Carpooling to and from theater rehearsals? Environmentally sound and efficient. Consulting each other on every single life decision? Basic good judgment. Pining for the same guys from afar? Shared crushes are more fun anyway.
But when Kate and Andy’s latest long-distance crush shows up at their school, everything goes off script. Matt Olsson is talented and sweet, and Kate likes him. She really likes him. The only problem? So does Anderson.
Turns out, communal crushes aren’t so fun when real feelings are involved. This one might even bring the curtains down on Kate and Anderson’s friendship.
I devoured this book all the way to the last page. I loved all the theater stuff– the auditions, the rehearsals, the swooning over musical playlists. Kate’s friend group was great, too. I kind of wish Brandie and Raina had been in the story more, but that’s really simply a testament to how much I liked them.
The story made me think about friendship and kind of my own evolution of values in friendship. There was absolutely a time when I thought that friendship required total and complete honesty and that anything less was not a real friendship. And there’s definitely some truth there– lying or keeping secrets can be really toxic. Sometimes it’s necessary to end a friendship when there isn’t honesty. But that’s not the same as allowing people the space to have their own secrets. There’s a balance there that I feel like it’s taken me a long time to make peace with. So it was interesting to read a story that explored that idea.
Only one thing in KATE IN WAITING bugged me, and I’m not sure how fair it is to feel bugged, but I’ll put it out there. So Kate was bullied in a pretty traumatic way by some of the kids at school. They posted some really hurtful things online that still haunt her. She carries a pretty big (understandable) grudge against not only those kids but that sort of splashes over onto anyone in their periphery. She and her friends label the group as “f-boys” or “f-girls”, short for a swear word.
Again, I feel like her hurt feelings are completely valid. I thought because of the way the story unfolded, that she might face the way that label could be hurtful. It’s like the story went almost that far and then just… didn’t. And maybe that makes it more realistic, because it leaves Kate with this flaw which we know has hurt some people. Maybe it’s more realistic because we don’t learn all of life’s lessons at the same time.
I guess I just struggled with it because Kate and her friends seemed almost proud of creating that label and using it to continually remind themselves that those kids are less than. I think I just wanted her to discover that it had been mean and want to be better than that.
Apart from that, though, I really enjoyed Kate’s voice and the rambling, quirky, funny way she related things that happened. I loved the way she and Anderson would gush together over things and the friendship rituals they celebrated together– from meeting places and text etiquette to songs they had to drop everything and sing. Watching the group navigate the shared crush and how to welcome a new person into their fold felt so real and so much like my own memories of high school.
Recommended for Ages 16 up.
Kate is Jewish. Her best friend is gay and Black. Another close friend is transgender.
Profanity/Crude Language Content
So much. There are a ton of f-bombs, most related to a nickname that Kate and her friends use to label a group of kids at school.
Kissing between boy and girl.
Kate and some other characters are Jewish. Some references to attending Hebrew school and eating Shabbat dinner.
Kate experienced some bullying when classmates recorded a video of her singing online without her permission and posted it with cruel comments.
Kate and her friends attend a couple of parties where teens are drinking alcohol. Kate doesn’t drink, but some of her friends do.
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