Review of Mazie

by Melanie Crowder 
High School    Philomel    352 pp.    g 
2/21    978-0-525-51674-3    $17.99 

In 1959, seventeen-year-old Mazie suddenly finds herself with the funds to leave Nebraska and spend six weeks in New York City pursuing her Broadway dreams. At first she’s overwhelmed and lonely, living in the big city at a boardinghouse for “theatrical young ladies” and learning the auditioning ropes. Repeated rejections make her question her singing and dancing talents, not to mention her appearance (“I come from…solid Nebraska stock”). Crowder’s novel takes readers on an enjoyable trip back to a golden age in theater, providing an inside look at the business while name-dropping hit songs and shows and introducing readers to a little-known piece of history: industrial musicals, shows sponsored by companies to advertise their products. In her last week in the city, Mazie finally lands an understudy role in an “industrial” traveling across the Corn Belt to promote a new tractor. During the ten-show run, she winds up with the lead, gets to visit her family (and former boyfriend), and learns about herself and what really matters in life. Crowder believably weaves in complicated romance — for both the protagonist and a few queer secondary characters — but the focus is on Mazie’s determination to prove to herself and others that she’s got what it takes to succeed, an inspiring example for anyone with a similar dream.

From the July/August 2021 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Cynthia K. Ritter
Cynthia K. Ritter

Cynthia K. Ritter is managing editor of The Horn Book, Inc. She earned a master's degree in children's literature from Simmons University.

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