(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

Wootton's biography recounts the life of singer and songwriter John Lennon, best known for his collaboration with Paul McCartney as the combined creative force which made the Beatles the most famous, popular, and successful musical group in history. Lennon was born on October 9,1940 in Liverpool, England to Julia and Alfred "Freddie" Lennon during a violent air raid by the German Luftwaffe. The author begins with Lennon's troubled youth as a temperamental and obstinate boy who performed poorly in school, but he devotes most of the book to Lennon's success with The Beatles, and concludes with the star's solo musical career and tragic death outside his apartment in New York City.

Lennon's parents married on impulse against the wishes of Julia's family, and they were not emotionally prepared for parenthood. Consequently, Julia's sister, Mimi Smith, raised John. Wootton discusses his troubled childhood, his failure at school (he failed all eight of his exams at the Quarry Bank Grammar in the summer of 1957), his playing of dangerous "dare" games, and his shoplifting of candy. Lennon's very strong commitment to his son Sean derived partly from his need to compensate for the lack of devotion he had received from his parents.

The biography focuses most on how the musicians met, formed an embryonic band called the Quarrymen (a name derived from Lennon's old Grammar school), and how the four different personalities blended together to form The...

(The entire section is 540 words.)