Get Back: Imagine… Saving John Lennon
Donovan Day explores a music fan’s biggest fantasy in Get Back: Imagine… Saving John Lennon. The teenage Lenny, named after John Lennon, is staying with his grandpa in New York City. He meets a beautiful girl named Yoko while busking in the subway. Then he discovers his iPod, loaded with a ton of classic rock songs, lets him time travel back to the time of the tune he’s listening to.
As he and Yoko explore this ability, we find out more about her grandmother, a backup singer and friend of John and Yoko’s. Lenny manages to bump into the Beatles several time, first telling them he’s a journalist, then hanging with them (and several other celebrity cameos) in a club.
Aside from the basic conceit, there are a number of implausibilities and coincidences in the story — would a modern-day seventeen-year-old really be mistaken for a 1960s journalist? And the promo for the book gives away too much, in my opinion, since we’re substantially through the story, over halfway through the book, before Lenny starts wondering about changing the past.
Day is clearly a huge Beatles fan, though, and the scenes with the boys are plausibly charming. He works through some of the ramifications of his choices, with Lenny sent to see a Doctor Robert after his behavior worries his grandpa and the police involved whenever people go missing. There’s no “we must be careful not to affect the timeline” here, with various changes tried and extrapolated from.
Even before we get around to Lennon, there are scenes with James Taylor and Jim Morrison. There are so many possibilities with this concept, and I kept being surprised by the twists and turns. The ultimate choice explores how much a life is worth, and whether a celebrity matters more than a loved one.
I’m not sure the target young adult audience cares as much about the Beatles as the author does, but I enjoyed reading the story. It was kind of shock realizing that so much time had passed that instead of the kids’ parents being involved with the band, their grandparents had to be. Get Back came out at the end of 2015, the year of what would have been John Lennon’s 75th birthday and the 35th year since he was murdered. (The publisher provided a digital review copy.)