Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Last Ride to Graceland

Last Ride to Graceland by Kim Wright
Gallery Books: 5/24/16
eBook review copy; 352 pages
ISBN-13: 9781501100789

Last Ride to Graceland by Kim Wright is a very highly recommended road-trip novel of self-discovery. I loved it.

Cory Ainsworth thought she was just going to get her father's hip waders out of the fishing cabin, but she just had to look in the shed, especially after she was repeatedly told not to. What she finds wrapped in bubblewrap is Elvis Presley’s Stutz Blackhawk. While it is shocking, it's not unbelievable since her mother spent a year as a back-up singer for Elvis just before he died. The big question on her mind now is this: is Elvis Presley her father? The inside of the car is a time capsule, with receipts and food bags, which must show where her mother was and where she stopped on her way home.

Cory knows someone besides her dad is her biological father. After all, she was a 9 pound premature baby, arriving seven months after her parents were married. They were married immediately after her mother came home from her year with Elvis. She decides that she is going to drive the Stutz Blackhawk back to Graceland along the back roads, retracing the route her mother took when she left, based on what was left in the car from 1977. Cory learns that her mother, Laura Berry Ainsworth, was known as Honey Bear when she was a backup singer. Her road trip uncovers part of the truth about her mother's past, her one rebellious year that she hid from Cory.

This delightful, smart, touching, and humorous southern novel alternates narrative voices between Cory in the present day and Honey (her mother, Laura) in the past. As Cory uncovers some of her mother's story, or what she thinks is the story, we hear from her mother, back when she was 18, what was really happening during that time. The different voices of the two women and the story they are telling is compelling and engrossing, with sharp contrasts and parallels between the two. Seriously, Cory is a great character.

If you are an Elvis fan this would be a great choice, but I'm not a fan and I enjoyed every minute of Last Ride to Graceland. It is an ultimate novel of self-discovery all wrapped up in encounters with great, fully realized characters and settings. The trip will keep you interested, especially as Cory narrates it. It's also a novel about mothers and daughters - and what they leave behind or try to hide about their past. 

The writing is exceptional and Wright held my rapt attention from beginning to end. This is the perfect summer read!

Disclosure: My Kindle edition was courtesy of Gallery Books for review purposes.

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