Seventeen-year-old Mazie has had one big dream for as long as she can remember: To make it on Broadway as a singer and dancer. But she’s a small-town girl from Nebraska, and her ambition baffles her peers, who expect to marry young, have lots of babies, and become farm wives. Her family and her boyfriend, Jesse, appreciate her talent, but they don’t understand why she can’t stay home and work in community theatre instead of leaving behind everything and everyone she knows and loves. Even Mazie doesn’t entirely understand it, but she knows she has to find out if she can achieve her dream. When her Nana leaves her enough money to spend six weeks in New York, she jumps on a train and heads for Broadway.
Crowder perfectly captures the voice of her plucky Nebraska protagonist as well as small-town America in the late 1950s, with its telephone party lines, square dances, and hard-working farmers. I could almost smell the cow manure and feel the dust from the fields coating Mazie’s skin during a heat wave. And when Mazie moves to New York, the city sounds and smells are just as vivid. Her experiences of auditioning and repeatedly being rejected feel heart-wrenchingly true, and Mazie’s maturation from innocent country girl to streetwise performer is utterly believable. Crowder also opens a window onto a fascinating bit of performing arts history through Mazie’s involvement with traveling musicals called “industrials,” which were financed by big companies to teach and entertain their salesmen. This young adult novel is a thoroughly engaging read!