Cover picture
Bibliographic Information
Title: John Lennon, All I Want is the Truth
Author: Elizabeth Partridge
ISBN: 0-670-05954-4 (hardcover)
Publisher: Viking – Penguin Young Readers Group
Copyright: 2005

Book Details
Text font: Perpetua and Bagheera
Designer: Jim Hoover
Formats: Hardcopy
Page Count: 232 pages
A Junior Library Guild selection
2006 Printz Honor Book

Plot Summary
This biography jumps into John Lennon’s life as we are introduced to him in bed with Yoko Ono on March 25, 1969 during his “Bed-in for peace.” The book then covers his life in sequential order, birth to death: beginning on the night of his birth and a World War II air raid on Liverpool, through a challenging childhood, into his rock’n’roll teens, and performing with the Beatles. It covers his time with Yoko Ono, when he struggled to make sense of his life and suffocating fame.

Handled with balanced writing deftness, Partridge records the highs and lows of his life that Lennon used as fodder for his songs. Virtually every spread contains a black and white photo, many putting into context his childhood and other musical stars influencing his fame. We are there with the crowds after his death at the hands of an assassin.
Much is known about the public John Lennon. This book gives us a chance to understand much more about the private John Lennon, before and after he was Beatle.

Critical Evaluation
Elizabeth Partridge and her books are a model of superior nonfiction writing. She works tirelessly to find corroborating data for all facts and writing. She tries not to “write” any text but rather use sources that can be referenced whenever possible when writing her text. She has a critically acclaimed record of excellent nonfiction biographies including ones about Arlo Guthrie, Dorothea Lange, and her father, Rondal Patridge, who apprenticed with Dorothea Lange and worked with Ansel Adams.

This book was a very collaborative effort between editor and author. Elizabeth Partridge dedicated the book to her editor, Jill Davis, who worked to get and resolve the rights for all the photographs in the book.

Reviews by both professionals and consumers are quick to point out Patridge’s deft and level handling of Lennon’s complicated life. She describes Lennon’s ongoing struggle to find his identity and love. She utilized memoirs and interviews for supporting information.

Reader’s Annotation
This John Lennon biography runs from his birth in 1940 to his death in 1980. It opens in the 1969 Vietnam period, giving credence to the book’s subtitle: All I want is the truth. Much of the appeal of the book is coverage of the Lennon’s early years, prior to the Beetles and years after the Beatles.

Information about the Author
Elizabeth Partridge is a San Francisco Bay Area native, living in Berkeley. She graduated with a degree in Women’s Studies from the University of California at Berkeley. She was an acupuncturist for more than twenty years, prior to becoming a full time writer. She is the daughter and granddaughter of famous photographers. Her father, Rondal Partridge and her grandmother, Imogen Cunningham, both worked with Ansel Adams.

Her books include Marching for Freedom, This Land Was Made for You and Me: The Life and Music of Woody Guthrie (National Book Award Finalist, Boston Globe/Horn Book Non-fiction Award Winner, 2002), and Restless Spirit: The Life and Work of Dorothea Lange. Her latest book is the middle grade novel, Dogtag Summer.

Author’s blog:
Author’s website:


Curriculum Ties
Music of the 70’s and 80’s
Britain World War II
Vietnam period

Booktalking ideas
England World War II and after
Vietnam period
Overcoming difficult childhoods

Reading Level/Interest Age
Interest Level: Grades 9-12
Reading Level: Grade level equivalent: 7.1, Lexile Measure: 1010L

Challenge Issues
Drug use
Physical abuse


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