Last Ride to Graceland by Kim Wright, one of the SheReads.org Books of Summer, and my fourth 5 star read of the year.
Genre: Fiction (Southern lit)
Synopsis from the publisher, Gallery Books, first trade paperback edition May 2016:
"In Kim Wright's delightful novel, blues musician Cory Ainsworth is barely scraping by after her mother's death when she discovers a priceless piece of rock 'n' roll memorabilia hidden away in a shed out back of the family's South Carolina home: Elvis Presley's Stutz Blackhawk, its interior a time capsule of the singer's last day on earth.
A backup singer for the King, Cory's mother, Honey, was at Graceland the day Elvis died. She returned home pregnant to South Carolina and married her high school sweetheart. Yearning to uncover the secret's of her mother's past - and possibly her own identity - Cory decides to drive the car back to Memphis and turn it over to Elvis's estate, retracing the exact route her mother took thirty-seven years earlier. As she winds her way through the sprawling Deep South, the burning question in Cory's mind - who is my father? - takes a backseat to the truth she learns about her mother's past."
Many of you know, and for those who don't, my mother had another TIA (stroke) earlier this year in the Spring. She never rallied against the affects of this stroke like she did her previous one in 2012 and declined rapidly since March, regardless of all of our efforts. (Mine, my husband's, and her doctors). In June she suffered a major (and frightening) setback, and ended up back in the hospital. By the end of June she was transferred to a rehab facility, where she still is, and will be for at least another week if not longer. My personal world has been turned upside down, and has been in a complete state of upheaval since June. I'm only now getting some handle on some things, trying to get myself back on track, and coming to terms with what is going to be an extremely new normal for us.
Hold on, there's a point to this, and yes it has to do with this book. I promise!
Reading has been hard. Writing has been hard. Both nearly next to none. Nothing holding my attention. Too overwhelmed and exhausted to focus.
But, then I remembered how when it sounded like there was someone walking in our attic when I was growing up, Mom would joke that it was just Elvis stretching his legs. I've no idea where she ever came us with that, but it always made up laugh instead of getting creeped out at the haunted house noises coming from the attic, so. The Elvis connection. I thought maybe Last Ride to Graceland would either be the right book at the right time, or I would have to put it down for another.
I'm glad I picked it up! What a fun read, and I laughed out loud throughout the book, which is exactly what I need right now. I felt like I was right there with Cory from page one on her journey, both emotionally, and visually, with the imagery of the people and places along the way.
It was also an emotional read for me, as I've realized I don't know Mom like I always thought I did, and because the stroke has changed her so much personality wise, she's more like a stranger to me now than Mom, and I don't know if there's a way I can ever learn who she really is (or was). In fact, I'm realizing she may not have ever known herself!
At times I thought of putting it down for another time, but in the end, it was the right book for the right time. The last page had me reaching for the tissues. A wonderful read, and only the 2nd book I've finished since Mom's stroke in March. Ms. Wright's writing is truly engaging and entertaining, and this book was a welcome and needed distraction.
And did I mention the cover is gorgeous? Love the color scheme.
Last Ride to Graceland - Highly recommended! A great Summer or anytime read!
Links for Reference:
I want to thank Simon and Schuster for providing me with a free copy of Last Ride To Graceland as a member of the She Reads Blog Network for review. (Opinions are my own, and I am not required by the publisher or She Reads to write a positive review, nor have I received compensation for this review).