“Making Your Limitations Your Opportunities.”
THE CHANCE TO FLY
by Ali Stroker & Stacy Davidowitz
Abrams, publication Spring 2021
An inspiring middle-grade novel about one young girl’s quest to defy not only gravity, but all expectations. Ali is the first wheelchair-bound actor to perform on Broadway and be nominated for a Tony Award, and won.
THE CHANCE TO FLY is about 14-year-old Nat Beacon, a Broadway superfan who uses a wheelchair, and the summer when she overcomes her fears to turn her fandom into stardom.
When 14-year-old Natalie “Nat” Beacon and her parents move across the country from San Francisco to Saddle Stream, New Jersey, Nat’s not sure what to expect. Although she’s a huge Broadway fan and wannabe actress, Nat was in a car accident when she was two and has used a wheelchair for as long as she can remember. Nat’s disability has prevented her from feeling ready to go out for school musicals or theatre-related extracurriculars up until this point, but when she stumbles upon an opportunity to audition for the Saddle Stream Broadway Bounders’ production of Wicked, Nat seizes her chance. While she doesn’t land a part, she’s thrilled to be picked for the ensemble, and the other cast members (well, most of them) are super cool and inclusive—especially Malik, the male lead and cutest boy Nat’s ever seen. With a few exceptions, getting to know her peers, the lakeside cast retreat, and arduous rehearsals go way better than Nat could have ever hoped, but when a lead has to back out a week before opening night, will Nat be able to take what she’s learned about herself over the summer to cast her fears and insecurities aside and “Defy Gravity” in every sense of the song title?
Nat navigates challenges, both of the universal middle grade sort (changing friendships, first crushes, body hang-ups, and fitting in) and others more specific to her disability (accessibility, prejudice, and limited opportunities because of what people think they know about her) as she makes true friends and learns to trust and stand up for herself—and all people with disabilities—in this middle grade novel full of heart, humor, and so much song. While we’ve seen significant efforts and progress with respect to inclusion and diversity in recent years, people with disabilities are still very underrepresented in the books and media we consume. Nat’s story is an opportunity to connect with young readers on this front and remind them that we all have limitations, but those don’t make us who we are—how we choose to address them does.
Stacy Davidowitz is the New York-based playwright, actress, screenwriter, and the author of Abrams’ Camp Rolling Hills series, as well as the tie-in books to the hit YouTube series Hanazuki.
Ali Stroker made history as the first actress who uses a wheelchair to appear on Broadway. She’s the first wheelchair user to graduate from the NYU Tisch drama program, and she has starred, recurred, and guested in numerous network television productions.