As thoughts turn to outdoor concerts and music festivals, Ann Hood’s She Loves You (Yeah, Yeah, Yeah) is the perfect summer read. Trudy Mixer, Hood’s optimistic and motivated protagonist, is the biggest Beatles fan at her Rhode Island junior high school - she started an Official Beatles Fan Club the day after their first appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1964. Two years later, Trudy has begun to feel increasingly left behind as her friends’ interests shift while she still obsessively memorizes facts about her favorite Beatle, Paul McCartney. When the Beatles schedule a concert in nearby Boston, Trudy is determined to make it to their show - and meet Paul McCartney - hoping to reinvigorate the Beatles fans at Robert E. Quinn Junior High and, more importantly, reconnect with her dad. He loves the Beatles as much as Trudy, but has become more and more busy at work, leaving Trudy feeling lonely and ignored.
Hood’s middle grade novel joyfully depicts the feeling we all have when we love a band. Trudy painstakingly and obsessively plans every detail of the day of the concert, from how she’ll get there, to what she’ll wear, to what she’ll say to Paul McCartney when she meets him. There is a beautiful, and familiar, scene on a train car that took me back to my own experiences waiting to get into Alpine Valley to see Dave Matthews Band (four times):
“Our train to Suffolk Downs was crowded with kids going to the concert. I could tell because they were clutching signs or albums or even just by the expectant looks on their faces. It was like all of us were in on something huge and important together, like we were making history...The whole subway car, everyone, was singing now, loud and joyous...our voices raised together with so much hope and love that I swear the whole train shook.”
The warmth and inclusion of community, people united around a shared interest, is a feeling you remember forever. Hood perfectly captures that, and it gave me goosebumps.
She Loves You takes place in 1966, not long after the assassination of John F. Kennedy, at the start of the Vietnam War, shortly before the height of the Civil Rights Movement. Trudy is experiencing all of the difficulties that accompany being a teenager while watching her world shift in dramatic and hard-to-understand ways. As she struggles to understand why her best friend wants to become a cheerleader, she begrudgingly befriends people that she previously viewed as weird, nerdy, and unpopular - the three remaining members of the Beatles Fan Club. Each has their own private motivation for getting to the concert. As Trudy learns more about each of her new friends, she is confronted with the challenges facing society as a whole. Hood subtly weaves in the Vietnam War, the hippie migration to Haight-Ashbury, Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique, and even the shifting musical landscape of the Beatles with their release of Revolver, a more psychedelic album, in August of 1966. Her work is wonderful.
I had the opportunity to send along some questions for Ann Hood and she generously answered them:
Dotters Daughters Picks (DDP): Do you find that being inspired by other artists and their work offers you an escape from challenges in your personal life?
Ann Hood (AH): I don’t think finding inspiration in other artists and their work offers an escape. Rather, it offers the opportunity to strive higher and dream more. Writing itself doesn’t help me escape personal challenges, but it does help me to work through them and better understand them.
DDP: Do you think that the impulse to escape is a healthy one?
AH: Absolutely! Daydreaming about escaping not only uses our imagination but also let’s us see possibilities. Actually escaping is a good way to recharge and think and get inspired. Of course, escape is only healthy if we come back, I suppose.
DDP: What advice do you have for kids who love music as they navigate their relationship to their own art and the art of others they respect and enjoy?
AH: Follow your passion! Any kid who loves the arts has the opportunity to express him or herself in creative ways.
DDP: How far would you travel to see The Beatles?
AH: I’d travel all the way back to 1966 if I had a time machine!
Huge thanks to Ann Hood and Penguin Young Readers for allowing us to be a part of this blog tour! Make sure you visit the other fantastic blogs on this tour - the schedule is below. She Loves You (Yeah, Yeah, Yeah) by Ann Hood comes out on June 26, 2018.
She Loves You Blog Tour Schedule:
June 18 - Book Hounds YA - Favorite Beatle and Why
June 19 - In Wonderland - Favorite Beatle
June 20 - It's Just About Write - Author Guest Post: If it starts with The Beatles, what makes boy bands and the stories they inspire still so popular today all these decades later?
June 21 - Dotters Daughters Picks - Author Q&A
June 25 - Ms. Yingling Reads - Review
June 26 - Sweet Things - Review & Creative
June 27 - Book Nerds Across America - Favorite Boy Band
Ann Hood is the author of the best-selling novels The Book That Matters Most, The Obituary Writer, Somewhere Off the Coast of Maine, The Red Thread, and The Knitting Circle, as well as the memoir Comfort: A Journey Through Grief, which was a New York Times Editor's Choice and chosen as one of the top ten nonfiction books of 2008 by Entertainment Weekly. She has won two Pushcart Prizes as well as a Best American Spiritual Writing Award, two Best American Food Writing Award, and a Best American Travel Writing award. A regular contributor to the New York Times, Hood's short stories and essays have appeared in many publications, including Ploughshares, Tin House, Traveler, Bon Appetit, O, More, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, The Paris Review, and others. She is the editor of the anthologies Knitting Yarns: Writers Writing About Knitting, Knitting Pearls: More Writers Writing About Knitting, and Providence Noir. Hood is also the author of books for children, including the middle-grade novel, How I Saved My Father (And Ruined Everything Else), and the ten-book Treasure Chest series for young readers. Her new memoir, Morningstar: Growing Up with Books, will be published in August. She lives in Providence, Rhode Island, and New York City, and is married to the writer Michael Ruhlman.