Desert Isle Keeper
A Thousand Miles to Graceland
Sometimes a book absolutely blows me away, and sometimes a book will make me smile. A Thousand Miles to Graceland, which combines a lot of my favorite fictional tropes into a single book, managed to make me do both. Kristen Mei Chase’s writing is extremely engaging, the trip she takes readers on a delight.
Boston-based Grace Johnson’s life is stuck in stasis – the torpor of a dull accounting job, and a marriage to Jeff that is strictly mediocre (and for which they’re currently in couples counseling). These are choices she has deliberately made – her extremely colorful, Elvis-obsessed mom, Loralynn, has never made a dull decision in her life, and Grace has a somewhat avoidant relationship with her due to her outréness and Grace’s past emotional scars. When her mother announces she’s going to take a road trip from her home in El Paso, Texas to Graceland for her seventieth birthday, Grace has a million reasons why her mom shouldn’t go, and why they shouldn’t go together. Then Jeff abruptly tells Grace, right in the middle of a counseling session, that he wants a divorce because he’s met someone new. Suddenly, Grace has no reason not to shake up her life.
Concealing the truth about her impending divorce from her mother, Grace soon finds herself on a wild, cross-country trip with her mom at her side. As they coast the highways and byways of America, mother and daughter soon find themselves learning more and more about one another – and coming to understand and forgive each other (Grace has some major resentment connecting to her abusive, alcoholic father, which has also landed her in the staid life she disdains) as time goes on. Grace finds herself on the trip of her lifetime – even as she learns something about her mother that makes their time together all the more precious.
There’s a twist up ahead you can see coming a mile away, but that didn’t stop me from loving A Thousand Miles to Graceland (and doesn’t stop a surprising amount of hope from shining through). Grace starts out as a milquetoast sort and ends up landing a possible relationship with a handsome man, as well as newfound respect for her mom. Loralynn is the centerpiece of this novel – she SPARKLES and lives in a way that few fictional characters get to – an irrepressible woman who lives and lives. Mother and daughter grow and grow together, and hovering over it all are the spangles and sparkles of The King.
The road trip itself is engaging, hitting all the expected Elvis spots but also taking unusual side trips. More importantly, mother and daughter tease and poke, cry and forgive. The reader will, too. A Thousand Miles From Graceland is Chase’s first novel, which is utterly astonishing to me. May she keep on writing novels that are just as lively, wise and interesting as this one.
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Lisa Fernandes is a writer, reviewer and recapper who lives somewhere on the East Coast. Formerly employed by Firefox.org and Next Projection, she also currently contributes to Women Write About Comics. Read her blog at http://thatbouviergirl.blogspot.com/, follow her on Twitter at http://twitter.com/thatbouviergirl or contribute to her Patreon at https://www.patreon.com/MissyvsEvilDead or her Ko-Fi at ko-fi.com/missmelbouvier
|Review Date:||January 27, 2023|
|Book Type:||Women's Fiction|
|Review Tags:||AoC | Debut|
I thought this sounded so cute! I almost got it before but now i will
It’s really wonderful! It does have a little bit of an angst quotient to it, but it’s well-resolved angst.