Troubled tween befriends John Lennon’s “ghost” to cope with family trauma

Award-winning author draws from Beatles to pen “touching, funny” MG novel 

NEW YORK, NY – Mark Goldblatt’s middle grade novel “Twerp” was a Junior Library Guild Selection, an Indie Next Pick, and a multi-award nominee that the New York Post called “reminiscent of ‘The Perks of Being a Wallflower.’” Its sequel, Finding The Worm, was a three-time PJ Our Way selection. Now Goldblatt asks: What would you do if the ghost of John Lennon turned up on your doorstep? David Salmon, the 13 year old narrator of the story, needs more than a little help from his friends as his life spins out of control in “Might As Well Be Dead” (May 5, 2023, Phoenix Press/New Haven Publishing). 

Goldblatt, who writes for both young and adult readers, has been published in  The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, New York Post, USA Today, and Time. He’s also a Sunshine State Award finalist, and he’s been nominated for the Georgia Book Award and the Vermont Dorothy Canfield Fischer Book Award. Professional psychotherapist Michael Leiman describes Might As Well Be Dead as “a touching, funny, highly readable story of a young man trying to cope.” Bestselling author Chris Grabenstein calls it, “a crackling good read filled with humor, heart, and hope.”

David Salmon is adjusting to his mom’s sudden decision to leave him and his dad. Except then a middle-aged British ghost named Winston shows up–bearing an uncanny resemblance to John Lennon. David is 99% sure he’s not real, but he’s a welcome distraction. Winston helps David with his struggles at home–his dad is having an especially difficult time with his wife’s sudden departure–while also guiding David through problems with his best friend and the new girl at school. Eventually, Winston shares his real reason for befriending David, forcing him to confront a dark truth he is desperate to avoid. 

With inspiration from The Beatles, sharp humor, and profound wisdom about the need to heal, Might As Well Be Dead is a hopeful story about the transformative power of love.

“Might As Well Be Dead”

Mark Goldblatt | May 5, 2023

 Phoenix Press/New Haven Publishing | Middle Grade Fiction 

Paperback | ISBN – 978-1-912949515-51-0 | $12.99 

MARK GOLDBLATT is the award-winning author of the middle grade novels Twerp and its sequel Finding the Worm (both from Random House), as well as a half dozen novels and nonfiction books for adults. He has been published in many popular and academic newspaper and magazines including The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, New York Post, USA Today, Time, National Review, Reason, Commentary, Quillette, New York Observer, Chronicle of Higher Education, Philosophy Now, and Sewanee Theological Review. He teaches developmental English and religious history at Fashion Institute of Technology of the State University of New York. Find out more about him at

Follow Mark Goldblatt on social media: 

Twitter: @MarkGoldblatt | Instagram: @anothertheologian

In an interview, Mark Goldblatt can discuss:

  • The power of imaginative literature to convey and cope with childhood trauma
  • The enduring legacy of the Beatles, the timelessness of their music, and the universality of their messages
  • The role of humor in helping us through even our darkest days
  • The blurring of reality and imagination in young people when their emotions are raw
  • The themes of bullying in his previous works, Twerp and Finding the Worm
  • The teachable themes in his fiction and how instructors have included them in their curriculum

Advanced Praise for Might As Well Be Dead

“Mark Goldblatt writes a crackling good read filled with humor, heart, and hope.  This story might be a little dark, but, sometimes, that’s the only way to see the light.” 

Chris Grabenstein, New York Times bestselling author of Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library

“Sometimes all we need to get by in the real world are friendly hallucinations.”

–Vince Vawter, author of the Newbery-honored, bestselling novel Paperboy

“With playful and creative liberty, Mark Goldblatt illustrates the extremes to which one may go to avoid feeling what one is not ready to face. As the protagonist’s Mom sagely notes, “Your heart has to understand what your head understands in order to feel better.” A lighthearted and entertaining exploration of the power of pain, this highly readable story may provoke inner reflection of the myriad ways we each run from, distort, and avoid our own ghosts, and the power of speaking our truths to begin to heal.”

– Dr. Deborah Vinall, LMFT, author of Trauma Recovery Workbook for Teens

Might as Well be Dead is the touching, funny, highly readable story of a young man trying to cope. Goldblatt uses creative and imaginative powers to move beyond self and create an atmosphere safe enough to look at, accept, and ultimately deal with unbearable hurt—so that there is, eventually, an opportunity for healing.” 

–Michael Leiman, CSW, Psychotherapist

Praise for Twerp

“Reminiscent of The Perks of Being a Wallflower. . . . You don’t have to be a twerp to read this book.” 

—New York Post

“A vivid, absorbing story about one boy’s misadventure, heartache, and hope for himself.” 

—Rebecca Stead, Newbery Award-winning author of When You Reach Me

“Mark Goldblatt is an amazingly wonderful writer.” 

—Chris Grabenstein, New York Times bestselling author of Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library

“[Fans of] Jeff Kinney’s Diary of a Wimpy Kid who have matured beyond the scope and gravity of that series will find a kindred spirit in Julian.” 

—School Library Journal

“Reminiscent of movies like The Sandlot. . . . Well-written and funny.” 

—The Advocate

“Alternately poignant and comical. . . . A thought-provoking exploration of bullying, personal integrity and self-acceptance.” 

—Kirkus Reviews

“A timely book.” 

—New York Journal of Books

“Elegant in its simplicity and accessibility.” 

—The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books

“Julian Twerski’s honest, self-deprecating and waggish voice finds its way to your heart before he’s uttered as much as a sentence. And by the time he’s finished unburdening his conscience of the highs, lows and hilarities of his year, he’s right up there on your favourites shelf with Spinelli (Stargirl), Palacio (Wonder) and Rebecca Stead (When You Reach Me). This sixth-grader really has a way with words….To sum up, there’s so much in this book it’s impossible to do it justice. Funny, endearing, character building; it will be mighty hard to top this for the year.” 

—Good Reading Guide

“An empathetic and authentic glimpse into the mind of a sixth-grade boy.” 

—The Florida Times-Union

“Funny, poignant, and an effective commentary on bullying and its consequences.” 

The Horn Book Magazine

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