Opening Lines: "I love Rory Calhoun. I've loved him forever. Since before Summer, even."
The first time Millie saw Rory Calhoun singing Worldwide Crush, she knew she loved him. Millie fantasizes about the conversations that they'll have and that one day they'll be together. She's his number one fan, having memorized all the lyrics to his songs. She keeps track of everything he posts on social media and even has a diary of all the important facts about Rory's likes and dislikes. His posters line her walls and sometimes she even writes letters to him, but she knows it would be silly to actually mail them. When he announced in Teen Talk magazine that he's single and looking for a girlfriend, she takes it as a sign that he's sending her a message that she's the one he's looking for.
Entering the seventh grade has been a trying time for Millie. She's concerned about seeming cool enough, whether she should be buying a school lunch instead of bringing a sack lunch. Worrying about where to sit on the bus. Her best friend Shauna is the only person who understands her dream about one day attending one of Rory's concerts and meeting him in person. Then news arrives that Rory will be performing a US tour and as it happens, he'll even be coming to Minneapolis. There's no way that the girls can miss this once in a lifetime opportunity, so following some begging and pleading, Millie gets her mom to agree to buy the concert tickets. The only problem is that her mom missed the ticket sale time, and the show is now sold out. Crushed that she won't be able to see her idol, Millie lashes out at her mom. But later apologizes when by a twist of fate her mom is able to land two tickets to the show after all. Everything seems like it's back on track, until Millie learns that the show has been cancelled because of a medical emergency. Soon Millie is devising a new plan to go to Rory's hometown in Bodega Bay, California. Can she find her idol and confess her feelings to him?
Worldwide Crush is such a feel-good story. I adored everything about it. I loved the inclusion of a family that feels so realistic and one that genuinely care about each other. Heck even the siblings get along. I loved Millie's little brother Billy who has got to be the most adorable kindergartener, asking so many unanswerable questions and hanging out in Millie's closest wearing a Darth Vadar mask everywhere. Then there's Grandma Cheryl who sneaks a smoke in the backyard playhouse, curses up a storm but has great advice. Even Millie's parents are the best. Her mom tries so hard to get the tickets for Millie and even takes it to heart when things kind of fall apart. I loved how the family lives on Laura Lane in Walut Grove Estates and even finding some teen idols names like David Cassidy's interspersed among Millie's classmates.
This had all those anxious middle school, puberty feelings. The desire to be liked by other people, to find your clique and be seen as one of the cool kids. Sitting in the cafeteria, riding the school bus and texting your friend. There were even song lyrics, acrostic poems, newspaper reports, and tips for writing a letter. Then there's the story of a girl smitten by a famous singer. How she idealizes him and is infatuated by everything he does. I love how Nilsen shows that Mille's feelings are true feelings, that her emotions shouldn't be trivialized. That her crush says something about Millie and what it has meant to her. That it's not always easy for the individual to manage their own emotions in this situation, but that they'll come to terms with it and eventually those feelings will fade away.
Lastly, I enjoyed Rory and how he was so positive to his fans. How he respected Millie's feelings and tried to be supportive as well as kept a boundary between them. There's something inherently relatable about Millie's middle school experience and her crush that I'm sure readers will enjoy. I was definitely happy to read the acknowledgements and find that Nielsen thanked her own first crush, Shaun Cassidy for inspiring Worldwide Crush. It's so cool that they got to communicate online, and he provided insight into Rory's character. This makes for a wonderful summertime read, something definitely meant to be read with a friend or family member. I'd defiantly pair this with To All The Boys I've Loved Before.
**A huge thank you to Spark Point Studio for the review copy**