“All I had was an invalid mother, three oddball friends, a father who didn’t know I was alive anymore, and a sliver of hope that meeting Paul McCartney could change all that.”
By the time Trudy makes this statement, readers know that she tends to overdramatize her life but also that she is determined to meet Paul McCartney. She is a sixth-grader who explains that she felt exhilarated when, in 1964, she began her elementary school’s Beatles Fan Club, which, by September of junior high, sported 23 members. Now, after April vacation, 1966, everything has changed: Her best friend is hanging out with cheerleaders; she is suddenly being teased about her full name, Gertrude; and her fan club has been reduced to herself, awkward Peter, uncool Jessica, and unkempt Nora. The good news: The Beatles will perform in August in Boston, just 50 miles from Trudy’s Rhode Island home. The text is laden with references to 1960s history, fashion, and popular culture—although air-raid drills go unmentioned. In a nice, perspective-lending touch, elevator music and disposable diapers are predicted for the future. All characters are default white. Trudy’s voice and her relationships with parents and peers ring true to an adolescent slowly making sense of her life and the people in it. Her perseverance, cleverness, and sense of humor will keep readers turning the pages to see if she does meet her favorite Beatle.
Trudy’s persistence after initial failure will resonate even with middle graders who’ve never heard of the Fab Four. (Historical fiction. 8-12)