YA Fiction of 2008: Love Me Tender by Audrey Couloumbis

What would it feel like to have a father who was a landscape gardener by day and by night (and on long weekends) was an Elvis impersonator? And what if he and your pregnant mom had an argument, and Dad-channeling-Elvis went off to Vegas to try to revive his stalled career in Elvis impersonation? And what if, just as he left, he said, “I’m relying on you, Elvira. Don’t let things fall apart once I’m gone.”

This book was hilarious. Elvira’s mom is a character, just the type to be able to be married to an Elvis impersonator and still remain halfway sane. She threatens her kids, “I’ll snatch you baldheaded if you do that!” Or “if you throw yourself on the floor again, I am going to put you up for adoption.” If you think either of those statements is a terrible thing to say to your seven year old or thirteen year old daughter, then you won’t like this book.

Elvira has a mouth, and she gets it from her mom Mel, short for Melisande. Elvira’s little sister, Kerrie, is cute, whiny, and somewhat manipulative. Dad is having a mid-life crisis, with his desire to be like Elvis and win Elvis competitions. And when the three girls in the family go to Memphis to visit Mel’s mom, the grandma that Elvira hasn’t ever even met, well, let’s just say that the smart mouth and the over-the-top rhetoric runs in the family.

There are some great scenes in this book: when Elvira convinces Kerrie that the police are after her for murder, when Kerrie gets a pair of fake eyelashes stuck to her eyes and has to go to the emergency room to have them removed, when Grandma burns a great big hole in the “warshing room”, when Elvira decides to get her ear (one ear) pierced in three places by someone named Pandora . . . It’s really just one laugh-out-loud episode after another. And the dialog is full of humor, too, if you like your humor Southern, sarcastic, and exaggerated.

It kind of reminds me of the old TV show Roseanne. If you liked that, you might like Love Me Tender. However, I didn’t much care for Roseanne, and I don’t usually like mouthy kids, in books or movies or in real life. But I loved this book. So go figure.

Other reviews:

Becky’s Book Reviews: “Honestly, I thought this one was a bit disappointing. When I see the name Coulombis, I expect better things, greater things. Not that this one was bad, it just wasn’t as magical as I expected. The premise, the author, the cover, I expected to be wowed a bit more than I was.”

Look Books: “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.”

The Goddess of YA LIterature: “The characters are nicely drawn; the dialogue snappy and sharp tongued. THIS is a family story about real family members. You can’t pick your family members, but you can decide how to live with and among them. Important lessons for us all, folks.”

2 thoughts on “YA Fiction of 2008: Love Me Tender by Audrey Couloumbis

  1. Pingback: 12 Best Young Adult Fiction Books I Read in 2008 at Semicolon

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