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.
As an education specialist, father of two, and a former middle school English teacher, Brian Herberger is immersed in the world of young adult fiction. In his debut novel, Herberger builds on his knowledge of this genre, drawing on themes that have piqued the interest of his students for more than a decade as they too come of age. He draws on childhood memories of flying with his father and combines them with his love of history to create a story that is exciting, meaningful and fun. Originally from Buffalo, New York, Brian now lives, reads, and writes in the Washington, DC area.
Like most high school students, music is important for Bets and her friends. Their teacher has other reasons for taking the class on a field trip to San Francisco, but for Bets in 1967, the trip is all about the chance to catch a glimpse of some of her favorite singers. They drive right through the Haight Ashbury neighborhood, where people like Janis Joplin, Grace Slick, and Jerry Garcia were not only performing, they were living and hanging out.
Music was an important part of writing Miss E. as well. When I found myself humming the melody to "San Francisco" or quietly singing the words to "Long Time Gone," I knew it was time to write! Working with a story that takes place in San Francisco of the 60's, it was the perfect way to put myself in that time and place. And my earbuds were in my ears before my fingers ever touched the keyboard, playing a selection of music that Bets and her friends would certainly enjoy.
A group of us had gotten together the weekend before the trip to listen to records in someone’s basement, and one of the songs played was a new record by a singer named Scott McKenzie. We’d never heard of him before, but the song was on all the radio stations, and because of its title and lyrics it was a perfect anthem for our trip. Once the bus had quieted, you could hear a number of students humming the melody of “San Francisco,” and like the song suggested many of the girls had put flowers in their hair. We didn’t know what Scott McKenzie looked like, but if he happened to be hanging out on the streets of San Francisco with Janis, Grace, or Jerry, we’d be happy to meet him.
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