Last Ride to Graceland by Kim Wright
About this book: (from the publisher) 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 coastal 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 quickly returned home to Beaufort and married her high school sweetheart. Yearning to uncover the secrets 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 with its quaint towns and long stretches of open road, the burning question in Cory’s mind—who is my father?—takes a backseat to the truth she learns about her complicated mother, the minister’s daughter who spent a lifetime struggling to conceal the consequences of a single year of rebellion.
About the author: Kim Wright is an acclaimed novelist who is a two-time winner of the Lowell Thomas Award for travel writing, and she has been writing about travel, food, and wine for more than thirty years. Kim lives in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Genre: Fiction/Contemporary/Women’s Fiction/Book Club
If this book were a movie, I would rate it: PG-13 for profanity
Reminds me of: the novels of Joshilyn Jackson
[Tweet “An irresistible lark of a summer read. @Kim_Wright_W @SheReadsBookCLB #SRBlog”]
Reflection: Funny, isn’t it, what makes you choose a book? I very nearly skipped right past this one. Graceland? Elvis? No thank you, not one bit interested in either — or so I assumed. I came this close to declining the opportunity of reading Last Ride to Graceland based solely on first impressions. But then, by some instinct, I gave it a second look, actually slowing down to take in the back cover copy. And then I knew: my first impressions were wrong.
How right I was.
This story hooked from page one, first by the wonderfully improbable “what if?” scenario, and second by its vibrant voice. It helped, I’m sure, that I was in the mood for an adventure uniquely American. Maybe it’s the advent of summer, which for me — as for many of my generation — awakens childhood memories of road-tripping. In any case, I was primed for this one, Elvis or no. And what a lark of an expedition it turned out to be — right down to its cleverly unexpected conclusion.
Lighthearted, sassy, and fun, Last Ride to Graceland still possesses a certain gravitas. It explores the complexity of the mother-daughter relationship as it plumbs the depths of the human heart and celebrates the indomitable, rebounding nature of the human spirit. And it prompted me to do what I never dreamed I’d find myself doing: Googling Elvis so that I could learn more.
I enjoyed every page of this whimsical summer read, all the more because my pleasure came as such a surprise.
Thanks to She Reads and Gallery Books for providing me a free copy to review. All opinions are mine.
After words: Are you an Elvis fan? Ever been to Graceland?