Monday, September 26, 2011

Review: My Life, the Theater, and Other Tragedies by Allen Zadoff

Tags: YA, middle grade, contemporary, theatre, grief, friendship, romance


High school sophomore Adam Ziegler is content with his behind-the-scenes role as a lighting man for his high school’s theatre company. Ever since his dad died in a car crash two years ago, Adam has stayed out of the spotlight, but this begins to be really difficult as he falls for the new actress, Summer, and gets on the bad side of Derek, the student director. Everyone knows that actors and techies don’t mix…but has Adam finally found the motivation he needs to make his stand?


Allen Zadoff remains a contemporary charmer with his second novel for young adults, MY LIFE, THE THEATER, AND OTHER TRAGEDIES.

As he did in Food, Girls, and Other Things I Can’t Have, Zadoff breathes life into subjectively overdone themes like high school isolation and grief with his winningly empathic characters and humorous dialogue. Adam is endearingly geeky and shy. Sometimes his inability to stick up for himself made me want to give him a good hard (well-intentioned) slap, but then watching him grow throughout the book was extremely rewarding. Supporting characters, from Derek the Evil Student Dictator to Reach, Adam’s best friend, are entertaining. And the girls are no Manic Pixie Dream Girls, which can happen sometimes in books with geeky males as main characters: these girls are legit, and they’re nice, but they’re also pretty. Furthermore, MY LIFE, THE THEATER, AND OTHER TRAGEDIES has a dead father, but the grieving process happily does not dominate the plot.

MY LIFE, THE THEATER, AND OTHER TRAGEDIES will appeal to both the seasoned and amateur reader. For a quick and funny yet heartfelt look into the awkward teenage boy’s life, you can’t go wrong with Allen Zadoff.

Cover discussion: Disappointingly ordinary and uninspiring.

EgmontUSA / May 10, 2011 / Hardcover / 288pp. / $16.99

Sent by publisher for review.


  1. Oooh, thanks for bringing this author to my attention! Glad to hear it flew with you.

  2. This sounds like a really good book! Thanks for reviewing it, it will go on my TBR list.

  3. I hadn't heard of this title but it sounds great - and refreshing. I shall definitely be picking up a copy. I think that YA with authentic male voices is few and far between but this sounds like it hits the mark perfectly. Great review.


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