It's 1966, and Trudy Mixer is having a hard time at the end of the school year. Her best friend, Michelle, is morphing into a lipstick wearing, Twiggy haircut sporting cheerleader, her father is so involved in his work that he doesn't spend much time with her, and her Beatles' Fan Blub has gone from being the biggest group in the school to having only four members. Not only that, but a substitute teacher uses her real name, Gertrude, and people start calling her that all the time. There's a brief moment of light-- the Beatles are performing a concert in Boston, not too far from her home. Her father has to travel to Japan on business, but Trudy convinces her mother to drive her, and even gets her to practice, since driving stresses her out. When her mother breaks her leg and has a cumbersome cast on her right foot, Trudy must reassess her strategies. There is a new girl in town, Penelope, who has moved from California and spells of Patchouli, and she claims that she is going to the concert with a high school boy, and they intend to take the bus and then the subway to the concert. Trudy rallies the three remaining members-- Jessica, Nora, and Peter-- and uses the summer to obsess over the Beatles' music and make plans for the concert. As president of the FIRST fan club in Rhode Island, Trudy is sure that the group can manage to meet Paul, and soon finds out that her friends all have their own reasons for wanting to make a personal connection with the Fab Four.
Strengths: While there are still students who adore the Beatles (my own daughter included!), I don't think they understand the real impact of the group on popular culture in the 1960s. We have needed this book for a LONG time, and Hood includes so many details about modern day culture that I was definitely transported back to the summer of 1966.Trudy has a typical, middle class suburban lifestyle-- the hard working, quiet father, the Arpege wearing mother who dabbles in reading The Feminine Mystique but still churns out meatloaf, and the bedroom with mint green dotted swiss and a record player. In everlasting middle school (or junior high) fashion, her friends are changing and developing interests that don't match hers. The social issues of the time are worked in very cleverly through the experiences of the other children and include the "hippie" counterculture, the conflict in Vietnam and its effect on the families whose sons were fighting, and the general change in the feeling in the world that is so evident in the evolution of the Beatles' music and wonderfully summed up by this line "Psychedelic was part of the way the world was changing, and it made me feel nervous." (Page 154 of the uncorrected advance proof.) This is a beautifully written and vivid paean to a bygone era that is ingrained in the public consciousness and needs to be explained to younger people.
Weaknesses: I was so caught up in the details (Liddle Kiddles! Melamine dishes! White Pages from other cities in the library! Up the Down Staircase!) that I missed the character development in Jessica and Nora, and was a little surprised at Peter's feelings for Trudy at the end of the book. There were a few minor historical errors, but no 12 year old will catch them, and they all involved things that were just a year or two off. What I really think: This transports readers to a very particular time and fully invests them in Trudy's quest to meet Paul McCartney. It is a wish fulfillment novel in the very best sense. I cried at the end, but then I was always a girl who loved George best! Definitely purchasing at least two, if not three, copies. Plus one for my daughter for Christmas!
256 pages 978-1524785116 Ages 10 and up
Recommended by: Karen Yingling, Library Specialist, Ohio USA
See more of her reviews: msyinglingreads.blogspot.com
"Filled with love, hope, and longing, this is a novel for readers of all ages." - Holly Goldberg Sloan
Bestselling author Ann Hood crafts a funny, heartfelt story of a girl growing up in the heart of Beatlemania.
The year is 1966. The Vietnam War rages overseas, the Beatles have catapulted into stardom, and twelve-year-old Rhode Island native Trudy Mixer is not thrilled with life. Her best friend, Michelle, has decided to become a cheerleader, everyone at school is now calling her Gertrude (her hated real name), and the gem of her middle school career, the Beatles fan club, has dwindled down to only three other members--the least popular kids at school. And at home, her workaholic father has become even more distant.
Determined to regain her social status and prove herself to her father, Trudy looks toward the biggest thing happening worldwide: the Beatles. She is set on seeing them in Boston during their final world tour--and meeting her beloved Paul McCartney. So on a hot August day, unknown to their families, Trudy and crew set off on their journey, each of them with soaring hopes for what lies ahead.
In her signature prose, Hood crafts an extraordinary story of growing up, making unexpected connections, and following your dreams even as the world in front of you--and the world at large--is changing too fast.--from the publisher
256 pages 978-1524785116 Ages 10-14