Elvira leads an extra-ordinary life with her slightly neurotic but lovable family. Her father was an Elvis impersonator (hence the name Elvira) and she finally understands why people say “I’m sorry” when they learn of her father’s profession. Her mother, Mel, has always been a bit odd as well. She threatens Elvira and Kerrie, Elvira’s sister, all the time. Now another baby’s on the way, and Elvira can’t sleep due to the fighting.

When Elvira’s Dad has a final fight with Mel and packs up to go to another Elvis contest, Elvira doesn’t know what to do. Mel, paranoid to an extreme, insists that Elvira shave Mel’s leg (the bump has just gotten too big), make popcorn, care for her sister, and feed her. Her mother is depressed, angry at Elvira’s father. Kerrie has become just plain annoying, and Elvira’s summer days are slowly wasting into nothing.

A message appears on the machine shortly after Mel decides to follow Elvira’s Dad to Las Vegas. Her sister says, “Mother’s time has come.” So the family of four- Mel, Kerrie, Elvira, and the unborn baby- head off to Memphis, Tennessee to mend broken family ties before Elvira’s grandmother passes away.

Elvira has a quirky, witty, sarcastic voice that makes the book fully enjoyable. I loved that it could be sarcastic without being unclean. After all, Elvira is only thirteen and not all teen books need the lack of innocence. She sees her family as an outsider, almost, analyzing them as much as herself. I laughed aloud a few times at her snarky comments.

The book was fast-paced, and easy to read. It needed a more decisive end, especially after so many memorable events. I feel like the end was sort of pre-conceived before the book was written. Too perfect.

There were so many Elvis references that most of them went over my head. I did notice a few, but I wonder why they were put in the book if the readers are younger. This is a funny read aloud book, so parents might get a chuckle or two out of it.

I must say that I admire Audrey Couloumbis and her books. Getting Near To Baby is one of my all time favorite books. I remember when it came out. I was in third grade, and my teacher gave it to me before it got the honor. I have so many praises for this book, but I feel that Love Me Tender doesn’t compare one bit. I’ll be interested to read Couloulmbis’s other novels and see how they compare.

Comes out April 22nd, 2008 (tomorrow!).

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