Cross Country by Brian Herberger

41487914Cross Country by Brian Herberger
Publisher/Year: Birch Cove Books, 2018
Format: Paperback
Pages: 371
Rating: ⭐
Goodreads

 

Summary

Having her father away in Vietnam wasn’t easy for Bets, but she soon discovers having him back home comes with its own set of problems. When a letter from her friend Emmie arrives along with a ticket to the Woodstock Music Festival, Bets has a tough decision to make. Should she stick it out back home or leave her problems behind for cross-county adventure?

There’s a lot happening in 1969, and figuring it all out is complicated. The people Bets encounters all have their own perspectives, each changing the way Bets thinks about the war in Vietnam, the problems America is dealing with, and her own problems back home.

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What I thought

Oh my goodness. At this point, I feel it’s safe to say that Bets has made it onto my list of all-time favorite literary characters. After having read Miss E., I was thrilled to see that there would be a follow-up story. And now here I am, I loved Cross Country so much, I’m hoping for more again!

What it comes down to is that Mr. Herberger just has a way with words, simply put. He has a way of describing things, places, people, feelings, etc. that, as a reader, you just get it. It helps, too, that these stories take place during a time period that I wish I could have experienced so much so that I feel almost nostalgic for it. I also really loved how relevant Bets’ coming-of-age feels today. Even though she grew up during a totally different time period, young adults (and grown ups) will find a lot of lessons to take away from this book, especially with everything going on in the world today.

Serious stuff aside, Cross Country is also a great adventure story. Who hasn’t dreamed about just picking up and driving across the country? Bets has some pretty epic adventures along the way–some fun, some not so fun–with a wonderful cast of characters I won’t soon forget. I love when even the secondary characters come to life, and Mr. Herberger didn’t let me down.

All in all, I loved Cross Country just as much, if not more than Miss E., and I know that I will read anything else Mr. Herberger publishes. Between all the times this book made me stop and think and all the times it was just plain fun, Cross Country brought Woodstock to life. I am always up for a story from Bets’ point of view, and this one was a pure delight to read!

 

Miss E. by Brian Herberger

30520466Miss E. by Brian Herberger
Publisher/Year: Birch Cove Books, 2016
Format: Paperback
Pages: 250
Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟
Goodreads

 

Summary

Being the new kid in town is a way of life for Bets, but moving to California in 1967 is different. Her father leaves for the war in Vietnam, her history teacher gives an assignment that has the whole school searching for clues, and the town’s most mysterious resident shares a secret with Bets that has been hidden away for decades. When a peaceful protest spins out of control, Bets is forced to reconsider how she feels about the war her father is fighting and her own role in events taking place much closer to home.

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What I thought

This book is, hands down, without a doubt, one of the best books I have read thus far in 2018. Set in the late ’60s in California and being a coming-of-age tale of sorts, this book seriously has my name all over it. I’ll be honest, I went into reading this with high expectations. I mean, with that stunning cover, how could I not? I’m happy to say that Miss E. went above & beyond my every expectation. It truly baffles me that this novel is not more well-known.

I loved so much about this book that I’m not quite sure where to begin. I guess I’ll just dive right in. Bets is one of the most authentic and endearing characters I have ever read. It was an absolute joy to read along with her journey. Good character development is one of my favorite features of a good book, and Bets’ growth throughout the story just hit the spot for me. She felt genuine and her development felt natural without feeling preachy. I just found out that we are going to see her in a sequel, and that makes me so unbelievably happy.

Miss E. wouldn’t be Miss E. without Miss E. I won’t give anything away, but she is one of my personal heroines. While reading about the various adventures that Miss E. and Bets had, particularly a few involving the sky, I just couldn’t help but imagine how thrilling that would be. On another note, I feel like Herberger absolutely hit the nail on the head with her characterization. She is just how I imagined she would be, and even just thinking about it now makes me feel all kinds of warm & fuzzy. And her scene in the last chapter? I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have tears on my eyes and a big old smile on my face.

In addition to the major players, the minor characters were a delight, as well, with my favorites being Mr. Flynn, Emmie, and of course, Bets’ parents.

As for the plot itself, there wasn’t a moment I didn’t enjoy. This time period is one I’ve often wished that I could have lived during, so even just reading about Bets and her friend eating pizza at Sonny’s was wonderful to me. The story moved along in a easygoing way, and it really felt like a good summertime read. Not to mention, this was one of the most unique stories I’ve read in quite some time.

Overall, I could go on and on and on about Miss E. It moved me so much that I now consider it one of my all-time favorite books, and I know it’s going to stay with me for quite some time. Just take it from me, if this book sounds at all interesting to you, please please please read it. This is a special book that needs to be read. As for me, I’m going to need my own copy of this for my shelves, and I will be anxiously awaiting the sequel!