I was introduced to “The Chance to Fly” at the American Library Association’s (ALA) Mid-Winter conference this past January, during a session with the authors, Ali Stroker and Stacy Davidowitz. Their book talk enticed me to search out an advanced copy, even though middle-grade reading isn’t really my thing. After completing the book, I would recommend that this selection be added to every school and public library collection. I am grateful that my fandom of Ali Stoker led me to the session and this heartwarming, nostalgia-inducing, story.
“The Chance to Fly” is the story of a dynamic, precocious, 13-year old, striving to live her best tween life, despite obstacles. Due to my fierce connection to musical theatre, along with the wonderful character development I was moved to tears (of joy) on several occasions during my reading. What begins as a story about Natalie, a strong-willed tween and wheelchair-racer from California, now tossed into a new life in New Jersey, quickly becomes an ensemble piece when she meets a diverse cast of characters while auditioning for a summer musical. This story caused me to reminisce about my own time in high school drama club, bringing back sweet memories of times shared with my drama club friends. The relationships between these characters are both timeless and timely and ultimately, the message of the book is that with a lot of drive and a little help from friends, anything is possible.
As the characters face several obstacles in their path to getting the show up and running, they learn about their own resilience and the things they can accomplish as a team. Throughout the story, we see ways in which the characters are both similar and different from one another and how the combination of their strengths is what helps them ultimately succeed. As the story develops, we also see how the characters change and grow and how one’s past doesn’t always determine their future. Overall, this is a story of triumph over adversity, shown through the eyes of a very hopeful group of musical theatre kids. If you like musical theatre, be sure to check this book out, when it hits the shelves on the 13th of April 2021!