Elvis Takes a Back Seat
By Leanna Ellis
What is it About?
As Claudia prepares for a garage sale, she discovers a letter from her late husband Stuart, asking her to return a three-foot bust of Elvis Presley back to its home in Memphis. Her Aunt Rae offers to take the trip with her and Ivy, the teenage daughter of long-time friend Ben, decides to go along for the ride too.
The three women load up Stuart’s Cadillac, with Elvis belted in to the back seat and head off on a journey with many twists and turns ahead of each of them. Will Claudia be able to put the past behind her so that she can move forward with life? Can they discover why Ivy seems so thin and unwell? And what do Rae’s secrets and past have to do with their journey now?
What I thought:
‘Elvis Takes a Back Seat’ is a poignant tale of three women on a journey together. Whilst the premise for their trip seems simple, each one has her own more complicated reason for being there. I loved the way Leanna Ellis wove their lives together. Claudia’s tentative relationship with her Aunt sets a foundation that eventually allows for an incredible revelation. Leanna’s depiction of Claudia’s emotional upheaval is entirely realistic and draws the reader along the journey with her. The mystery and slightly hippy style that is Aunt Rae gives the story an airy lightness that balances the tragedy that each woman has either faced or will face. She left me wishing to know her entire story. Leanna includes just enough to satisfy and yet leaves enough mystery to keep you wondering. The escapades of travelling with an Elvis bust also provide many humourous moments! Ivy’s sullen teenage demeanour is handled realistically, with her bouts of enthusiastic engagement and then sullen withdrawal that are so typical of teen behaviour so ably included.
To be honest, I was a tad dubious about a story that included Elvis, not being a fan myself. However, whilst the Elvis bust gives the initial basis of this book, the tale is more about the women and their lives and their intertwined future together. I was moved to tears many a time as the three women struggled with the many facets of honesty in family relationships, security in one’s identity and working through the hand life deals to make a positive way forward. Leanna reminded me through ‘Elvis Takes a Back Seat’ that no matter what we go through in life, God can bring beauty out of the ashes of our lives.