"Looking back, I would say everything in my life changed the summer I turned thirteen and my dad turned into Elvis." Isn't that a killer first sentence? Josh Greenwood is already what he calls a “shared kid,” having spent the last eight years shuttling between his mother's place in Boston and his father's in Chicago. After his grandma breaks her hip and his mother makes plans to go down to Florida for four months to take care of her, Josh is shipped off to stay with his dad. At the airport, Josh is appalled to see that his dad looks, well, different and embarrassing, wearing a garish Hawaiian shirt, too-tight jeans, and an outdated country-western style shiny black hairdo with big triangle-shaped sideburns. Who would dress like that in public? Yup, that's right, Josh’s dad has had a bit of a career change and become an Elvis impersonator. Now Dad is going out to gigs wearing his Elvis 1968 Comeback Special outfit, and Josh is having a fit. It's bad enough he has to enroll in Charles W. Lister Intermediate School where he doesn't know a soul, though he intends to keep it that way, so no one can give him a hard time about his father. But on his very first day, when he gets to his locker after his last class, he finds a yellow Post-it note sticking to it. It says, in purple marker, "Welcome to Lister, Josh Greenwood. Elvisly yours." How he comes to accept his dad, his dad's new girlfriend, Viv, and her daughter, Ivory, a girl who dresses like a 1960s time warp, makes for a very funny novel.
Do your kids know the King? Play them a CD or a YouTube video or two so they can see him in his glory days and maybe sing along. Pull together a set of books about embarrassing parents, like Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney and A Crooked Kind of Perfect by Linda Urban. (“See,” you can tell your eye-rolling pre-teen and teens, “your units are not so bad. It could always be worse.”)
Reviewed by JF.
Themes: FATHERS AND SONS. FRIENDSHIP. SCHOOLS. FAMILY LIFE.
Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2008
Suggested Ages: 10 and Up