The Girl Who Became a Beatleby Greg Taylor
She loves you, yeah, yeah, yeah!
When Regina Bloomsbury's band, the Caverns, breaks up, she thinks it's all over. And then she makes a wish--"I wish I could be as famous as the Beatles."
The Beatles are her music idols. The next day, she gets up to find that the Caverns are not just as famous as the Beatles, they have replaced them in history! Regina is living… See more details below
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She loves you, yeah, yeah, yeah!
When Regina Bloomsbury's band, the Caverns, breaks up, she thinks it's all over. And then she makes a wish--"I wish I could be as famous as the Beatles."
The Beatles are her music idols. The next day, she gets up to find that the Caverns are not just as famous as the Beatles, they have replaced them in history! Regina is living like a rock star, and loving it. There are talk shows, music videos, and live concerts with thousands of screaming fans. And Regina is the star of it all.
But fame is getting the better of Regina, and she has a decision to make. Does she want to replace the Beatles forever?
Greg Taylor's The Girl Who Became a Beatle is a rocking young adult novel about the good and the bad of Hollywood, fame, and rock 'n roll.
This high-concept, wish-gone-awry modern fairy tale concerns an aspiring 16-year-old musician whose band, the Caverns, is splitting up. Devastated by her bandmates' desertion, the everygirl protagonist Regina wishes that she could be as famous as her musical lodestar, the Beatles. Her wish does come true, but with a twist: The Beatles have been obliterated from history, and the Caverns have replaced them song by song.Regina still has problems with her family and bandmates, but she's now the composer of the Beatles songbook and a famous rocker.She soon learns that she has a choice—to live in this fake fairy-tale world forever or return to her quotidian life. Told in fractured–fairy-tale mode but without that genre's lighter-than-air charm, the story skims the surface rather than attacking the deeper and more interesting ethical and intellectual dilemmas her situation raises. Similarly, a subplot with Regina's mother has the potential for emotional complexity and punch but remains largely unmined. Strong premise—a frothy fantasy with an enjoyable backstage peek—but disappointingly uninvolving. (Fantasy. 11-15)
Easy appeal to fans of music-fueled novels.
Read an Excerpt
The Girl Who Became a Beatle
By Greg Taylor
Feiwel and FriendsCopyright © 2011 Greg Taylor
All rights reserved.
A lot of winter days in Twin Oaks are like some of the black-and-white movies I've seen. Dreary, colorless, a total drag. (A Hard Day's Night does not fall into this category, of course.)
The morning of the day that I made my wish ... was not like that. As my eyes fluttered open, I could tell it was going to be bright and sunny. Unfortunately, that did nothing to soothe my anxious state.
My uptightness was not unusual. Most mornings I wake up with the same feeling in my gut. Kind of queasy. Like I'm not on solid ground. Like something is unresolved in my life.
So what was it that morning? Did I neglect to study for a test? Was someone mad at me at school for some reason? When I stumbled into the bathroom, I got to the bottom of this mystery.
There it was, staring back at me from the mirror. No, not my face. Well, come to think of it, that's a good place to start. I'm not all that confident about how I look. But I don't want to get into that right now.
So no, actually, it was the words on the mirror that cracked this little puzzle for me. Sometimes I write reminders on the mirror in lipstick. And what was there this morning was this:
BE FIRM. DO NOT TAKE NO FOR AN ANSWER.
I play guitar and sing lead vocals for a band called the Caverns. We're a pop band, I'm proud to say. Mostly retro. Sixties British Invasion covers (more than a few Beatles songs, of course), a smattering of tunes from some of the smarter, newer pop groups, and — to keep things interesting — a few originals thrown in here and there. (None of mine, however. I'm kind of shy about playing my own stuff for people.)
I formed the Caverns during the summer. So far, we've only played a handful of gigs. A couple of times at the local coffee shop, a Battle of the Bands at our high school. A street fair near my house. So, we're kind of a new band, which makes me a bit uptight sometimes about the whole enterprise. It's like when you've just started dating someone and you're not sure where things are headed.
Anyway, back to that message on the mirror. As it turns out, my anxiety about the band was justified. Julian, our lead guitarist, had told me just the previous day that the Circuit Club — a hugely popular band at my school and one that has played a lot more gigs than the Caverns — was interested in Danny, our drummer, and Lorna, our bass player. As if that wasn't bad enough, it seemed that D and L were seriously thinking of accepting the evil band's offer!
So that's what my mirror-mirror-on-the-wall lipstick message was all about. "Be firm. Do not take no for an answer" referred to my begging Mrs. Densby, head of the Entertainment Committee at T.J. High, to let the Caverns play at the Back to School dance, which would be happening right after Christmas break. I figured if I could get the gig — which would not only be the biggest one we'd played so far, but would actually pay us something — it might prevent my fidgety bandmates from bolting for Circuit Club. One gig, that is what I was desperate for. Then I'd take it from there.
That's my dad. The human clock. He yells those same two words at exactly 6:30 a.m. every school day. I kid you not. Another annoying thing about him is that he's a morning person. Which is something I'm certainly not.
Unfortunately, I can't avoid Dad in the a.m. He teaches music at my school. So not only do I have to listen to him chatter away as we eat breakfast (he insists we eat together every morning) but on the way to school, too.
I have to admit, Dad and I have a complicated relationship. Mom left us years ago. As a result, Dad is ... overly protective, I guess you could say. I'm sixteen years old and trying to spread my wings a bit, right? Not untypical. Meanwhile, Dad is doing his best to keep them clipped. Also not untypical. The point is, our diametrically opposed viewpoints on this particular issue leads to more than a little tension between us.
Don't get me wrong. I love Mister B, as the students call him. For one thing, Dad's the reason I'm such a Beatles nerd. He gave me Meet the Beatles! (on vinyl) for my twelfth birthday, and I've been hooked on them ever since. So I owe him. But still, a girl needs her space. Especially in the morning. But my space, as usual, was about to be invaded.
"What's the cryptic lipstick message all about, kiddo?" Dad looked at me over the glasses he needs to read the morning paper.
"Nothing," I replied, instantly defensive.
"Anything I can help you with?"
Dad got that wary look in his eyes. I had been shutting him out more and more lately.
"Look, Dad, sometimes a girl needs to figure things out on her own. OK?" Dad looked concerned. But he gave me a reluctant nod.
He was uncharacteristically quiet on the way to school. Which was fine with me. It gave me time to figure out what I was going to say to Mrs. Densby. I didn't want to improvise this very important conversation. It had to be totally worked out.
So work it out I did as Dad drove silently through the peaceful, eternally slumbering suburban streets of Twin Oaks. By the time I entered the teeming halls of Thomas Jefferson High, I had my pitch memorized. That made me feel a little better, but there was still one very important thing I had to do before talking to Mrs. Densby.
Avoid my bandmates. That way they couldn't even broach the subject of breaking up the Caverns. Ducking Danny and Lorna wouldn't be difficult. They're a grade below me, so I didn't have any classes with them. But Julian was a different matter. We have the same math class and share the same homeroom. Most days, that's good. Because, well, I guess it's time to tell you about Julian and me.
I'm in love with him. He's not in love with me.
Sorry. I know that's so ... typical. Unrequited love and all. At least I'm pretty sure it's unrequited. Julian and I really get along, is the thing. We have a similar sense of humor. Kind of off, if you know what I mean. We like the same kinds of songs, of course. We sometimes finish each other's sentences. I like it when that happens because that tells me we're totally on the same wavelength.
All that said, what Julian and I have between us feels like a friends kind of vibe. So I've always been afraid to let Julian know how I really feel about him, because that might spoil what we already have.
Now you know one of the main reasons why I was so intent on preventing the Caverns from breaking up. I'm not sure if Julian and I would even see each other very much anymore. It could be the only reason we were friends was because we were in a band together. Take away the band ... there goes Julian. And any chance for me to ever get up the nerve to tell him how I really feel about him.
Speaking of the boy, here he was. As soon as I entered my homeroom and sat down at my desk, he was standing right next to me.
"We gotta talk, Gina." Julian wore his hair in a classic Beatles cut and dressed '60s-style. Which made him all that more irresistible to me.
"I wouldn't get too close, Julian. I'm ... getting sick."
"You're the worst liar in the world. All I have to do is look in your eyes."
I didn't want to look in his. He has really terrific blue-green eyes. Soulful eyes. You could get lost in those eyes. As for mine, I put sunglasses on. (I always have a pair on hand, even in winter, just in case I want to look mysterious. Or inscrutable, I believe is the word.)
"I have to study," I said.
"It's the last day before Christmas break. What do you have to study for?"
"SATs," I lied. Well, I was taking them sometime early in the New Year, but with my current crisis, I didn't really care about them.
"Danny and Lorna want to meet during lunch," Julian said.
"I can't. I have to —"
"If they're gonna quit, it's better to know sooner than later, don't you think?"
I didn't want to answer that question. So I didn't.
"C'mon, Gina, it's not the end of the world. There are plenty of musicians out there. You can put a new band together."
My heart sank. Because Julian had said "you," not "we."
"You sound like it's a done deal," I said. I wasn't looking at him when I said it. Julian slowly removed my sunglasses. I glanced sideways at him. He looked kind of sad. Which told me he knew it was a done deal. "I gotta get back to ... this," I said lamely. And quickly put my sunglasses back on. Because I didn't want Julian to see me cry.
Can you believe it? Tears first thing in the a.m. I couldn't help it, however. The Caverns really did mean that much to me. Julian, Lorna, and Danny were my tribe, after all. The band was my identity. In the bizarre, surreal world called high school, the Caverns was my lifeline to sanity.
So that was one reason I started to lose it in homeroom class the morning of the day that I made my wish. The other reason was ... I didn't think I was that great of a musician. Or singer. Or songwriter. And I figured that's why Danny and Lorna and Julian really wanted to break up the band. I wasn't good enough. Plain and simple.
Maybe everyone at my age has these kind of doubts. For those of you who don't, let me tell you, they can paralyze you. Just stop you in your tracks. Give you panic attacks.
My way of dealing with them was to keep moving. Like a shark. Keep practicing. Keep writing songs (even though nobody ever heard them). Keep trying to get gigs. That helped keep my insecurities at bay. But sometimes they took over.
This was one of those times. Julian, bless him, knew not to push it. He gave me a pat on the arm and said, "We'll talk later." I couldn't get any words out because of the lump in my throat. So I just nodded.
That's how my day started. And it would only get worse from there.CHAPTER 2
"Hi, Mrs. Densby."
I had managed to pull myself together and plaster a fake can-do smile across my face before approaching Mrs. Densby at the front of the auditorium. She had study hall second period, so I figured that was the best time to talk to her about the dance. The smile was meant to cover up the fact that my heart was beating like a hummingbird's.
"Hello, Regina. What can I do for you?"
"You can let the Caverns play at the Back to School dance."
Hmmm. That wasn't what I'd rehearsed, what I'd memorized on the way to school. I was going to break the ice with some small talk. Compliment her on her strange-looking outfit (she always wore weird ensembles that screamed, "Color- coordinated!"). But before I could stop myself, I had eliminated the preliminaries and cut right to the heart of the matter. It seemed to catch Mrs. Densby off guard. She took a moment to consider the question.
"Well, you see, I can't do that, Regina. DJ Jimmy already has the job."
DJs! Besides Circuit Club, the bane of my existence. What was so special about DJs? Why did everyone want them instead of real, live music these days? At the school dances. At the pool parties in the summer. At the frat parties over at the college. Those were all places my dad had played with the Lost Souls, his high school band.
That was back in the day, that's for sure. The Golden Era, the Shangri-La, the Camelot for garage bands. I feel like I was born thirty years too late. Because today the DJs ruled. And they were strangling the Caverns. Taking all the gigs away from us.
"DJ Jimmy always gets the gigs," I said. "The ones he doesn't play, Circuit Club does. Why not do something different for a change?" I was aware that my voice went up a notch as I talked. Not a good sign. Another pitch and I'd be whining.
"Tell you what I'll do," Mrs. Densby said. "I'll put that suggestion before the committee."
"But that means the next dance. And that's not until next spring!" There it was. I had crossed the border into Whiny Burg with those last two words. I have terrible self-control.
"You kids are always in a hurry, aren't you?" Mrs. Densby leaned casually back in her chair. The look on her face seemed to say, Wait until you get to my age. You'll learn to take life nice and easy.
It was all I could do not to grab her by her purple lapels, shake her, and scream, Yes! You betcha I'm in a hurry! My life depends on this!
But I didn't. I took a deep breath, then, as calmly as possible, said, "I really wish you would reconsider about the upcoming Back to School dance, Mrs. Densby."
Mrs. Densby took off her glasses, which made my heart sink. 'Cause that's what my dad always did when we were about to have a heart-to-heart.
"Regina, I think it's wonderful that you are so devoted to your band." See, I knew it. "And you mustn't give up. I heard you play at that Battle of the Bands at the beginning of the school year." (The one we lost to Circuit Club.) "And I have to say, I thought you were really good. Especially those Beatles songs."
I gritted my teeth and said, "Thank you."
"Anything else, Regina?"
She'd already dismissed me. I could tell. Her mind was somewhere else. Where, I didn't want to know.
"No, that's it," I said meekly. (As my inner voice screamed, "Hey, what happened to 'Be firm. Do not take no for an answer?' Huh? What happened?!!!")
Just then a paper airplane sailed over our heads and landed on the stage behind Mrs. Densby's desk. Giggles erupted behind me.
"Enough of that! This is study hall!" It was not a pretty sight to see Mrs. Densby morph from the Understanding Teacher into the Purple General. So I got out of there, fast. Besides, the bell was ringing, which meant I was going to be late for math class.
But really, at that point I didn't care. My one shot at keeping the band alive had been delivered a fatal blow. My Save the Band campaign was over.
Fortunately, as I dragged my carcass around a corner in the hallway, a ray of light streaming through a high window blasted me flush in the face. It was like being hit with divine inspiration.
I stopped suddenly and smiled up at the glorious light. What on earth is wrong with you? I scolded myself. This wasn't the only gig in town. Close to it, but not the only one.
There was the VFW, for instance, which sometimes hosted theme dances. True, no one my age would be caught dead in the place, but so what? I would go there right after school and tell them that what they absolutely had to have for the holidays was a Back to the '60s dance.
If that didn't work, I'd ask Dad to throw a Christmas party for all of his friends (I think he had some). The Caverns could entertain the guests, of course.
Then there was ... well, I wasn't sure what else there was, but I'd think of something.
It ain't over till it's over, I thought. Then I practically skipped down the hall with renewed hope and energy.
(Are all teenagers like this? Ricocheting from despair to euphoria within one turn of the minute hand? If so, no wonder we're always so exhausted!)
* * *
Math, the class I was late for, was the one I had with Julian. I was bursting to tell him about all of my gig ideas but figured it might be best to just surprise him. Besides, when we made eye contact a couple of times, I got the impression he didn't really want to talk to me. Maybe because of my emo display in the morning. That kind of thing can make a guy uncomfortable. So we sidestepped each other after class, and I managed to avoid a confrontation with Lorna and Danny by not going to lunch.
As I stood at my locker at the end of the school day — with all the crazy energy swirling around me, that special energy that can only come from a rambunctious group of schoolkids just before a long vacation — I had convinced myself the Caverns (and hence, Julian and me) still had a chance. And I couldn't wait to get to the VFW and make magic happen!
I froze. That unmistakable voice could come from only one person.
I pretended not to hear her. That way, maybe she'd just go away. Eventually. But she wasn't going away. I knew that. I just didn't want to believe it.
Lorna leaned against the locker next to mine. She's a cool-looking girl and a classic cynic. We hadn't known each other all that well before she tried out for the band. Still, like most kids in my school, I had certainly known of Lorna. That's because she'd always had a pretty wild rep. The whole punk, dressed-in-black thing? Lorna had blasted through that before she'd even hit her teenage years. Even though that wasn't her deal anymore, she still had a prickly personality and looked at the world through black-tinted glasses to a certain extent. She looked at me now, poker- faced.
"You've been a tough girl to find," she said.
"I've been busy."
"You've been avoiding me."
"And me," Danny piped in from behind.
I turned to face Danny. Normally, he's all smiles and high fives. He's like a human pinball. Talks a mile a minute and plays the drums like a madman. Think ADD ten-year-old in a fifteen-year-old body, and you've got the idea. Underneath all that hyper-energy, though, Danny's a really sweet guy and Lorna's opposite, personality-wise.
Excerpted from The Girl Who Became a Beatle by Greg Taylor. Copyright © 2011 Greg Taylor. Excerpted by permission of Feiwel and Friends.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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