Review: As If On Cue

As If on Cue

by Marisa Kanter

Simon & Schuster

Category: Young Adult
Reviewer: Rebecca Levitan

[This review is adapted from AJL News & Reviews, the newsletter of the Association of Jewish Libraries]  In her sophomore novel, Marisa Kanter (What I like About You) brings readers an enemies-to-lovers romance with a passion for the arts. As long as Natalie can remember, it’s been Natalie vs. Reid. Even though their families are close friends, Natalie and Reid don’t get along and are often locked in prank wars. When their school cuts the arts budget so that the orchestra, where Reid plays clarinet, gets all the money, and every single other arts program is cut, Natalie decides to show the value of other programs by putting on an original play. When their prank battle gets out of hand, she and Reid are forced to be co-directors of the play, now a musical. Clearly the two of them must learn to work together, but when things seem to be going too well, can Natalie get over her feelings of distrust she’s held for so long?

While readers may want to shake Natalie for her poor decision making skills, they will cheer her on as she learns to trust Reid, puts on a showstopping musical, and figures out how to navigate a relationship with her band director dad. Perfect for fans of musicals and romcoms, this is a wonderful addition to the growing collection of contemporary Jewish Young Adult books.

The Jewish content is seamlessly woven into the story. Both Natalie and Reid, the main characters, and their families, are Jewish. The High Holidays are celebrated, Natalie’s sister has her bat mitzvah, and the characters deal with both implicit and overt antisemitism, learning to take a vocal stand against it instead of just laughing it off. This book meets the criteria for Sydney Taylor Book Award recognition.

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Reviewer Rebecca Levitan holds a BA in History and Judaic Studies from Binghamton University, and an MLIS from the University of Pittsburgh. She is a full time generalist librarian, and the Children's Coordinator at the Pikesville Branch of the Baltimore County Public Library in Baltimore, MD. She is the immediate past chair of the Sydney Taylor Book Award and the VP of the SSCPL Division of the Association of Jewish Libraries. As a mom of three young children she is passionate about quality Jewish literature. Rebecca is also an avid knitter and can often be found working on a shawl that she will likely not wear because it is too warm in Baltimore most of the year.