STARRED REVIEW
April 06, 2018

In search of a great aunt Amelia

By Rebecca Behrens
Review by

Just when 12-year-old Bea feels as though she’s lost her place in the world, a grandmother she barely knows takes her on the road trip of a lifetime in Rebecca Behren’s latest historical novel, The Last Grand Adventure. It’s 1967 and the pair is on a secret mission: traveling from California to Kansas in hopes of reuniting with her grandmother’s sister, who happens to be Amelia Earhart. They plan to reach the house where “Meelie” was born by July 24, on what will be the legendary aviator’s 70th birthday.

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Just when 12-year-old Bea feels as though she’s lost her place in the world, a grandmother she barely knows takes her on the road trip of a lifetime in Rebecca Behren’s latest historical novel, The Last Grand Adventure.

It’s 1967 and Bea and her grandmother, who calls herself Pidge, are on a secret mission: They’re traveling from California to Kansas in hopes of reuniting with Pidge’s sister, who happens to be Amelia Earhart. They plan to reach the house where “Meelie” was born by July 24, on what will be the legendary aviator’s 70th birthday.

Behrens, who’s written about Alice Roosevelt (When Audrey Met Alice) and Roanoke’s lost colony (Summer of Lost and Found), makes this outlandish premise both believable and thrilling. Pidge reveals a handful of letters she’s received over the years, reportedly written by her long-lost sister, filled with intimate childhood details that only family could know. The letters reveal fascinating tidbits of Earhart’s life as well as actual quotes from the aviator herself, supplemented by a series of helpful author’s notes at the end.

Bea, meanwhile, is reeling from her parent’s divorce and her father’s remarriage. With her mother traveling as a journalist, Bea lives with her father, new stepmother and younger stepsister, Sally, who idolizes Bea—much to Bea’s annoyance. Wondering where she fits into this new family configuration, Bea jots down her many fears in a worry journal.

She begins to fill an adventure journal as well when she’s sent to help her increasingly forgetful grandmother adjust to her new retirement home. With little money or food, Pidge and Bea stowaway aboard a train, hitchhike, fly aboard a small plane and more in a desperate attempt to reach Kansas in time.

As they journey, Bea not only gets to know her grandmother but learns invaluable lessons about her own life. She begins to appreciate her mother’s career and to understand that her new stepsister might actually be a gift instead of a burden. Most of all, she learns that she’s a “capable Earhart Girl.”

The Last Grand Adventure is a tightly-plotted, beautifully written homage to the power of sisters, adventure and the enduring mysteries of history.

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The Last Grand Adventure

The Last Grand Adventure

By Rebecca Behrens
Aladdin
ISBN 9781481496926

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