Pearsall, Shelley. 2008. All Shook Up.
When you're thirteen, it doesn't take much for you to think your parents are embarrassing. Meet Josh. He normally lives with his mom in Boston, but when his grandmother falls and breaks her hip, Josh is sent to stay with his Dad in Chicago while his mom is off to Florida.
Looking back, I would say everything in my life changed the summer I turned thirteen and my father turned into Elvis.Josh's "shock" comes quickly when his Elvis-dad picks him up at the airport. "Trust me, right at that moment, I didn't really want an explanation for why my dad was pretending to be Elvis Presley, the King of Rock and Roll. If you have to choose between standing around with somebody who is being a complete hunka-hunka burning shame in public--or getting as far away from the situation as you can--you take the second option. Always." (12)
I'd heard people say thirteen was an unlucky number, and from the very beginning, that seemed to be true. I'd been thirteen for less than twenty-four hours when the phone call came from Florida about my grandma taking a fall on the steps of the Shadyside Episcopal Church and breaking her hip. That same day, somebody swiped my bike from the city pool because, yes--I'd stupidly left it unlocked. And then my mom decided to ship me off to Chicago for four months so she could rush to Florida to take care of my grandma.
Before arriving in Illinois at the end of the summer (which had been a pretty decent summer until I turned thirteen), I didn't know anything about my dad being Elvis. Well, that's not quite true, I'd heard there were people who pretended to be Elvis. You know--sideburns, sunglasses, twisting hips, jiggly legs, and all. But I never would have believed my own dad would become one of them. (1-2)
Yes, Josh has a few adjustments to make that's for certain. And you can read all about them in All Shook Up.
It was a fun read because you couldn't help but want to listen to Elvis. (I don't know if teens will have this response or not?!) Even though Josh himself is turned off completely by anything and everything Elvis. (Will they like Josh be mortified by the King?)
The writing is good (not great but solidly good). I've always enjoyed Shelley Pearsall's books in the past--her previous books include Trouble Don't Last, Crooked River, and All of the Above. And I did enjoy this one. It started off strong. It was funny. But it was believable. It had great potential. And while I wasn't particularly disappointed in the book, the last half is weaker than the first half. Not that it ever turns bad.
If it were a beam routine (and forgive me but with the Olympics I have gymnastics on the brain), I'd say there were no falls, no major deductions per se. But a couple of balance checks and a hop on the landing keep it from getting that perfect perfect score.
© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews