The Lonely Hearts Club
I, Penny Lane Bloom, do solemnly swear to never date another boy for as long as I shall live. All right, maybe I’ll reconsider it in ten years or so when I’m no longer living in Parkview, Illinois, or attending McKinley High School, but for now I’m done with guys. They’re all lying, cheating scum of the earth.Yes, every last one of them. Pure evil. Sure, there are some that seem nice, but the second they get what they want, they’ll dump you and move onto their next target.
So I’m done.
No more dating.
Love is all you need…or is it?
Penny is sick of boys and sick of dating, so she vows: No more. She’s had one too many bad dates, and has been hurt by one too many bad boys. It’s a personal choice…and soon everybody wants to know about it. It seems that Penny’s not the only girl who’s tired of the way girls change themselves (most of the time for the worse) in order to get their guys…or the way their guys don’t really care about them.
Girls are soon thronging to The Lonely Hearts Club (named after Sgt. Pepper’s band), and Penny finds herself near legendary for her non-dating ways – which is too bad, since the leader of The Lonely Hearts Club has found a certain boy she can’t help but like…
The Lonely Hearts Club is available wherever books are sold.
When I was five years old, I walked down the aisle with the man of my dreams.
Okay, make that boy. He was five, too.
I’d known Nate Taylor pretty much since birth. Our fathers had been friends since childhood, and every year, Nate and his parents would spend the summer with my family. My baby book was filled with pictures of me and Nate – taking a bath together as infants, playing in our tree house in the backyard, and — my favorite – dressed up as a miniature bride and groom at my cousin’s wedding. (Soon after, the picture of me in my white dress and Nate in his tux was hung proudly on my bedroom wall.)
Everybody always joked that one day we’d get married for real. Nate and I used to think so, too. We thought we were the perfect couple. I didn’t mind playing war with him, and he would even play with my dolls (although he’d never admit to it). He’d push me on the swings and I’d help him organize his action figures. He thought I looked pretty with my hair in pigtails, and I thought he was cute (even during his brief pudgy stage). I liked his parents, and he liked my parents. I wanted an English Bulldog, and he wanted a Pug. Macaroni and cheese was my favorite food, and it was his favorite food, too.
What else could a girl want in a guy?
To me, looking forward to summer was the same thing as looking forward to Nate. As a result, so many of my memories revolved around him:
— My first kiss (in my tree house when we were eight; I punched him, then cried afterwards).
— The first time I held hands (when we got lost during a third-grade scavenger hunt).
— My first Valentine’s Day Card (a red construction-paper heart with my name on it).
— My first camping trip (Nate and I put up a tent in our backyard when we were ten and spent the entire night out there by ourselves).
— The first time I purposely deceived my parents (I took the train into Chicago by myself to see Nate last year; I told my parents I was spending the night at my best friend Tracy’s).
— Our first true kiss (fourteen; this time I didn’t put up a fight).
After that kiss, my anticipation for summer intensified. We weren’t playing make-believe anymore. The feelings were real, they were different. The heart involved wasn’t made from construction paper — it was living, beating…real. When I thought about summer, I thought about Nate. When I thought about love, I thought about Nate. When I thought about anything, I thought about Nate.
I knew that this summer it would happen. Nate and I would be together.
The last month of school was unbearable. I started a countdown clock to his arrival. I took shopping trips with my friends to buy “Nate clothes.” I even bought my first bikini with him in mind. I set my work schedule at my dad’s dental office around Nate’s work schedule at the country club. I didn’t want anything to get in our way.
And then it happened.
He was here.
He was taller.
He was older.
He was no longer cute — he was sexy.
And he was mine.
He wanted me. And I wanted him. It seemed that simple.
Soon enough, we were together. Finally, really together.
Only I didn’t get the fairy tale I was hoping for.
Because guys change.
They stomp on your heart.
I found out the hard way that fairy tales and true love don’t exist.
The perfect guy doesn’t exist.
And that adorable picture of the innocent miniature bride with the guy who would one day break her heart?
That didn’t exist anymore, either.
I watched it burn in flames.
“In this insightful debut novel, Eulberg takes an intelligent, funny and kindhearted approach to a topic rarely addressed in books for teens: the way many teenage girls sacrifice their sense of self and their friendships in order to attract and keep a boyfriend… Eulberg handles dilemmas of identity, female friendships and male-female dynamics with humor and candor.”(Full Text)
– Shelf Awareness
“A delightful coming-of-age story about the importance of learning to define yourself as an individual without shutting the door on love. Just like that other Lonely Hearts Club, it’s guaranteed to raise a smile.”
– Suzanne Collins, author of The Hunger Games and Catching Fire
“There were so many things I loved about this one. Penny herself being one of them. Penny’s friends being another. It was nice (and refreshing) to see a YA book deal so well with friendships between girls.” (Full Text)
– Becky’s Book Review
“This first novel will be a draw for readers looking for an upbeat take on friendship, empowerment, and finding romance without losing yourself.”
“The Lonely Hearts Club is a kick-butt, fun, and powerful read that isn’t just about the romantic ups and downs of teen dating and swearing off guys, but about friendship and loyalty and never allowing a boyfriend to compromise who you are or make you give up your girlfriends.” (Full Text)
– The Compulsive Reader
“In a spirited, feminist debut, musician Eulberg traces the resilience of a 16-year-old suburban high-school junior who turns her disappointment in love into a happy affirmation of autonomy and friendship.”
– Kirkus Reviews
“Why oh why weren’t Penny Lane Bloom and her Lonely Hearts Club around when I was in high school? Penny is a terrific voice – smart, sassy and full of grrl power – just like author Elizabeth Eulberg. I can’t wait to see what she comes up with next.”
—Jen Calonita, author of Secrets of My Hollywood Life
“The Lonely Hearts Club is a must-read for anyone who’s ever fallen in love – or sworn it off completely. A funny, fantastic debut!”
—Stephenie Meyer, author of The Twilight Saga
“The Lonely Hearts Club turns the world of teen dating upside-down, proving that a girl can ignore ‘the rules’ and still land squarely, happily, and hilariously on her feet.”
—Lauren Myracle, author of ttyl
BEHIND THE STORY
I was out one night with a friend when I had my “ah-ha” moment that inspired The Lonely Hearts Club. The friend in question is one of those girls who always has to have a boyfriend, can’t survive unless she is with a guy, changes herself to please him (you know the type, and not surprisingly, we are no longer friends). This was one of the rare moments in her life when she was single and she was surrounded by guys. Before I started a pity party for myself (I was single at the time too, but no boys were paying attention to me), I thought: You know what? This is ridiculous. Why am I getting upset that she is getting all of the attention? I have so many wonderful friends who are single! We should all get together and go out every Saturday night…
It hit me: I should write a book about a group of happily single girls who form a club. My brain started immediately searching for a good club name and, being a huge Beatles fan, Lonely Hearts Club jumped out at me. Just like that.
For awhile I was thinking that the Club should consist of four girls named Paula, Jonatha, Georgina and… I couldn’t think of a good female name for Ringo. Ringa? Rita? RITA! As in “Lovely Rita”… I soon realized that I should name one of the girls after a Beatles song and Penny Lane Bloom was born.
I started writing The Lonely Hearts Club in the fall of 2004. But I switched jobs late that year and due to the various demands of being a publicist, I would have to put LHC aside for months at a time. Between 2005 and 2007, I wrote about seven different drafts of LHC before it was sent to any publishers. Even though many things changed, the heart of the story remained the same: single girls, do indeed, rule and never, ever change yourself for a guy. Oh yeah, and boys are stupid.
The Beatles had a huge influence over The Lonely Hearts Club. Not only did the title and character names come from the Fab Four, but I listened only to Beatles songs while writing LHC. (Even now as I type this, I’m listening to John Lennon).
Why the Beatles?
Um, they are only the greatest band of all time. The Beatles changed music forever. It’s as simple as that.
I didn’t grow up a huge Beatles fan nor were my parents fans, but when I look back on my childhood, they were present. In second grade, we sang “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da” in music class. My piano teacher got me a Beatles book in fourth or fifth grade. I’d hear their music on the Oldies station my mom listened to. In high school and college, I started buying their albums and realized how many of their songs I knew, everybody knows at least one Beatles song – they are classics.
When I was in London for my semester abroad in college, my friends and I went on a Beatles walking tour. We went to all of the major Beatles sites, including the famed Abbey Road studio.
Me with my not-even-cool-back-in-1996 short hair on Abbey Road.
I didn’t do a lot of research for The Lonely Hearts Club. I re-watched their movies and the excellent Beatles Anthology. I did buy The Beatles Complete Scores, which features every song written and recorded by the Beatles (it’s over 1,100 pages!). I used that to reference song lyrics. Originally, each chapter title was the title of a Beatles song—and in that chapter, a line from the song corresponded to something that happens. That was pretty challenging since I refused to change the lyrics (and because the Beatles are guys and Penny is a girl there were some he/she issues). Eventually, during the editing process we broke up the chapters and realized that it was going to be too tricky to pull off for various reasons.
For those who would like to know which songs I had used, below is the list, from my pre-edited book:
Two of Us
We Can Work It Out
Do You Want to Know a Secret?
If I Fell
Don’t Bother Me
You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away
I’m So Tired
You Can’t Do That
I’ll Be Back
With a Little Help From My Friends
Things We Said Today
From Me to You
Here Comes the Sun
While the following songs aren’t included above, they are some of my favorites. And I listened to them whenever I needed to get super-emotional during the writing process:
Ticket to Ride (the first line, “I think I’m gonna be sad, I think it’s today…” breaks my heart every time)
On July 18, 2009 a huge dream of mine came true – I saw Paul McCartney play at Citified! He was amazing, and I had to fight back tears several times. And before the concert, I was lucky enough to go on a Beatles walking tour of New York City. The photo of me at Strawberry Fields is on my FAQ page.
Check out my blog for more on my Sir Paul experience.
I was pretty shocked to be getting my book published, period. But to have it available in different languages around the world? That’s just crazy talk!
The Lonely Hearts Club is out, or will be coming out, in the following languages/countries:
Australia and New Zealand