“Last Ride to Graceland” by Kim Wright

The narrator begins her story by informing the reader that she was a premature baby who just happened to weigh nine pounds and nine ounces. This sort of laugh out loud humor is found throughout the book. She is now an unreliable woman in her late 30’s who knows that her mother, a preacher’s daughter, was once a backup singer for Elvis Presley. She thinks that Elvis might be her biological father. A year after her mother’s death she goes to Graceland in attempt to learn more about herself instead she learns about her mom; a woman who was much more complex than her daughter ever knew. Her mother was finally able to share her life secrets. This gave her daughter the gift of understanding, something that she never had but was longing for. I thoroughly enjoyed my Graceland ride filled with southern food, southern bourbon and southern hospitality while meeting sassy women hiding their burdens. The reader gets the wonderful opportunity of learning, especially if you are not a southerner like me, that there are states located in the south that do, indeed, have a southern culture and then there is “The Real South,” located way below the Mason Dixon Line where locals live in bus houses, have coon-hounds and use expressions such as “ain’t got the good sense God gave a rock.” Although located in Memphis, Graceland was not “The Real South.” Elvis grew up a dirt poor kid. By this time in Elvis’s life the author portrays him as often sweet, often sad, always a major pain in the butt to his staff but never intentionally harmful to anyone. It is made clear that living life as “The King” would have been impossible for anyone. From the beginning till the end of the tale I felt that I was in the hands of an author talented enough to make me cry as well as laugh without being sappy as is often the case with women’s dramedy. This is my first time reading a novel by Wright but it will not be my last. My only criticism is some parts of the book felt unnecessarily slow. Then again, maybe it’s that this New York minute northerner needs to slow down and embrace some sweet, southern style. This novel will be released to the public on May 24th. If you enjoyed reading “Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café” or “Steel Magnolias” then I highly recommend “Last Ride to Graceland.”

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