Sunday, February 5, 2012


NetGalley ARC
Release date: May 1, 2012
On December 8, 1980, John Lennon was assassinated by Mark David Chapman.  The world grieved along with John’s wife, Yoko Ono.  Everyone had lost an extremely talented musician and simply an interesting individual.

DEATH OF A DREAMER highlights the early life of John Lennon.  Raised by a beloved aunt and uncle, his artistic talent was revealed at a young age.  Always a rebel uncomfortable with authority, John didn’t do well in school, but instead, found music to be the outlet for his powerful thoughts and feelings.

Lennon got his musical feet wet in the then popular genre known as “skiffle.”  As a member of the group called the Quarrymen, he met Paul McCartney and then George Harrison.  The three would later join with Ringo Starr to become the infamous Beatles.

Author Alison Marie Behnke goes on to chronicle the high points in the history of the Beatles followed by the band’s later breakup.  Behnke details Lennon’s solo career and then the development of his musical partnership and marriage to Yoko Ono.  His political activism and sometimes controversial anti-religious statements may have fueled the fires of hatred in his assassin, Mark David Chapman.

The biography of Lennon then switches to the life and times of Mark David Chapman.  Chapman is portrayed as a likeable individual with an interest in working with children and young people.  Many of his acquaintances, including his wife, described his later violent action to be a surprise and not in character with who he really was.

Behnke paints a clear picture of the time leading up to Lennon’s death.  Chapman’s love of a book by J.D. Salinger titled THE CATCHER IN THE RYE appears to have provided at least part of his inspiration to murder the famous musician.  Whether or not Chapman was sane at the time of the killing was never officially determined, but his final plea of guilty led to his imprisonment and so far, all denials for parole.

DEATH OF A DREAMER is beautifully presented with attention to detail and a translation of events that will capture even young readers not familiar with the fame of both John Lennon and the man who killed him.  Behnke records the story in an easy-to-read narrative with just enough background to make the facts clear but not overburdened with detail.  The addition of the timeline and information about Lennon’s family and friends will help readers pull it all together into a seamless telling of recent history.

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