The Last Grand Adventure (Hardcover)
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It’s 1967 and twelve-year-old Bea is in need of some adventure. Her mother is off in San Francisco, while her father has just gotten remarried in Los Angeles. Bea has gained a younger stepsister, and she’s not thrilled about her blended family. So when her ailing grandmother, Pidge, moves to an Orange County senior-living community and asks if Bea would spend the summer helping her get settled, Bea is happy for any excuse to get away.
But it turns out, her grandmother isn’t interested in settling in. What she really wants is to hop a train back to Atchison, Kansas—where she thinks she’ll be reunited with her long-missing sister: Amelia Earhart. And she wants Bea to be her sidekick on this secret trip.
At first, Bea thinks her grandmother’s plan is a little crazy. But Pidge has thirty years of letters written in “Meelie’s” unmistakable voice, all promising to reunite. This might be the adventure Bea needs…
With letters in hand, Bea and Pidge set off on their quest to find Amelia. But getting halfway across the country proves to be more of an adventure than either of them bargained for. And their search for Amelia leads to some surprising truths about their family—and each other.
Historical fiction lovers are in for a treat with this heartfelt tale of discovery and hope. Twelve-year-old Bea is living unhappily with her newly blended family after her parents’ divorce—young stepsister Sally particularly annoys her, and she misses her traveling reporter mother. Still, she’s nervous to spend several weeks with Pidge, her grandmother, about whom she knows little. Despite warnings to be wary of unusual, forgetful behavior, Bea agrees to join Pidge on a secret, half-baked journey from California to her childhood home in Kansas in hopes to be reunited with her long-lost sister, Amelia Earhart. Pidge has been receiving mysterious letters from Meelie for decades and believes she is still alive. Bea, intrigued with the family mystery and warming to her grandmother’s quirks, supports her as they stow away, hitchhike, and take to the skies in a desperate attempt to reach Kansas—despite Bea’s nagging suspicion about the letters’ authenticity. This story has much to love, from the touching development of Bea and Pidge’s relationship to Bea conquering her fears and discovering the appeal of adventure. Bea even sees her stepsister in a new light as she witnesses the bond between Pidge and Meelie that transcends time and space. Young history buffs will appreciate the back matter, including a historical author’s note, selected bibliography, and list of which quotes in the book are authentic. VERDICT An excellent purchase for readers who enjoy a strong dose of adventure and solid character development in their historical fiction.
— School Library Journal