New Review

My publishing house sent me this review last week.

Elvis Takes a Back Seat
Leanna Ellis
5 Stars

I don’t give out five stars very often. A book has to have certain qualities to rate that kind of accolade. It has to get my attention right from the start. It has to keep my attention through each chapter. It can’t be preachy or whiney, nor be overly repetitive. And it absolutely must not give itself away too soon. I have to admit, when I first saw the title I was a bit skeptical. What was this one going to require of me? Was an over-the-top fan going to chase down Elvis sightings and make me go along? Nope. Was an Elvis impersonator going to try to pass himself off as the original and prove he was alive and that he had not been abducted by aliens? Nope. Elvis Takes a Back Seat was not any of those things. Oh, Elvis was there, on nearly every page, but the author seemed to understand that her readers didn’t want to go in those directions any more than she did, and so she chose an entirely different trip and she didn’t let Elvis run away with her story.

I liked this book because the story is told in such polished style that readers will want to be in the back seat of that Rock ‘n Roll red Cadillac, with the top down, cruising the road to Memphis. The plot twists aren’t overly complicated, nor are they over-simplified. Ellis has managed to keep that element of “this story really could go either way here.” Even the chapter titles have something to offer.

Have you been spending a bit too much time listening to children’s programming during the week? Are there over-the-top happy tunes repeating in your head? Well, Elvis Takes a Back Seat is more down-to-earth and you’ll find yourself remembering the songs from which the chapter titles were taken. By the end of it, you’ll be calm and happy, humming them instead of the theme song to the Mickey Mouse Club. But, reader beware. The book has a dangerous side. It fosters procrastination.

I put off doing the dishes on Tuesday, for what was supposed to be a few minutes. Two hours later, when it was time to start lunch, I made myself put the book down and go wash them. I managed to get the laundry in the washer on Wednesday, then sat down to read until it was time to put the clothes in the dryer. You have to remember to actually turn the washer on in order to get them clean. Did I do it on purpose? We’ll never know. And grocery shopping? Oh, please. I found myself rushing through the more domestic tasks so I could get back to the book. I even found myself carrying it along as I hurried out the door for appointments. Stop lights are never long enough, and why can’t we have traffic jams in rural America?

I’m giving the book five stars because it earned it. It got my attention from the beginning. It kept me wanting to find out more in every chapter. It isn’t preachy, or whiney, nor repetitive. I did figure out the ending a bit sooner than it was revealed, but that didn’t take away from what came next, because even toward the end the author had a surprise or two up her sleeve. Elvis Takes a Back Seat is a warm and encouraging story about three generations of women who take a trip, not just to Memphis, but more importantly an inner journey into their own lives, their expectations, and their fears . . . and Elvis got to go along for the ride. This book is just simply a great trip all by itself.

By Susan Cronk

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