Book Review: The Roof Over Our Heads by Nicole Kronzer
A charming YA novel about a family who puts on an immersive, interactive play to save their historical home
Finn lives in a family of theater lovers. His older brothers are both actors, and one of his moms is an actor and the other one is a director. They even live in an enormous historic mansion owned by the Beauregard, Minnesota’s largest regional theater. Finn is desperate to be an actor, too, despite the fact that he can never seem to remember his lines. When a new artistic director threatens to sell the Jorgensen house and kick his family out of the only home he’s ever known, his family puts on a show—an immersive 1890s experience unlike anything else out there. But will it be too much for his mom Lula, who is recovering from cancer? Will Finn connect with his crush and deal with his long-time rival, Jade? Will saving the house save Finn’s acting career? Funny, warm, and full of Victorian hijinks, this is a novel for anyone looking for a place to belong.
This was a good first read for 2023! One, it’s an interesting premise. Two, there is SO MUCH GOING ON that it kept me completely engaged and made for a fast read. And three, it’s written by a Minnesota author.
Finn, family, and friends are working together to create an immersive theater experience. For two weeks, they’re living like Victorians and putting on a play/working through a whole bunch of real-time issues. Guess what happens when you put a bunch of people into one space for an extended period of time? Things happen! Real life things! There’s drama, fighting, firing, kissing, plotting, manipulating, hurt feelings, confusing interactions, revelations, and did I mention the kissing? Finn has been shouldering a lot of responsibility in his family, much of it kind of in secret, for a long time. He’s a good kid with a great heart, but he’s also JUST a kid. My own kid is roughly Finn’s age and when I try to picture C. doing all the things Finn has been doing, I just can’t. So it’s good that this time together in the play makes him start to share some of what he’s been carrying so quietly, things even his own family members didn’t understand he was doing or worrying about. The cast in this book is doing an amazing thing—working to raise money to save the historic home—but it’s all the other stuff that happens while in this process that made for such a packed, interesting story. Also? The whole time I was reading this story that’s set just a few miles from me, I was like, I want to go to this cool and weird play! It really is a great premise. I loved how supportive and loving and thoughtful everyone in this book was. Sure, most of the characters are kids and do and say things at times that are maybe not super well thought out or whatever, but that’s real life. Well thought out scripted perfection really only comes from plays. So while they might be able to memorize lines and successfully be a character, they’re going to be messy and confusing and learning in real life. This very busy book is a funny, heartwarming look at community, identity, family, and theater. Good fun.
Review copy (finished) courtesy of the publisher
Publisher: Amulet Books
Publication date: 01/03/2023
Age Range: 12 – 18 Years
Filed under: Book Reviews
About Amanda MacGregor
Amanda MacGregor works in an elementary library, loves dogs, and can be found on Twitter @CiteSomething.
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