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Facing Generational Boundaries on the Road

A review of Nancy Crochiere’s Graceland.

A tale of three deeply intertwined women, Nancy Crochiere’s Graceland redefines the definition of a literary road trip with a fast-paced race to Elvis’s beloved home. Olivia Grant, an elderly soap star in declining health, is determined to visit Graceland again before she dies. When her daughter Hope refuses to entertain the idea or even speak of Memphis, their prior home, Olivia feels she must recruit her pink-haired, outspoken teenaged granddaughter Dylan to help her make the trip instead. With Olivia’s bribe of revealing Dylan’s absent father’s identity, Dylan eagerly carts her oxygen-clad grandmother on a breakneck chase from Boston to Memphis to both revive past ghosts and confront uncertain futures. Hope, fearing the fate of her mother and daughter as well as her own, chases them back to the city she vowed to never return to.

Crochiere beautifully weaves together the sorrows, trials and tribulations of three generations through the points of view of Olivia, Hope and Dylan. Each woman brings something new to the table and confronts timeless generational issues, especially highlighting the ever-present push and pull of the relationship between mother and daughter. Crochiere unravels the initially vague backgrounds of the women with perfect timing, giving just enough new information to propel the story forward while keeping readers curious.

Though the plot is certainly enough on its own, the characters are what really make this novel. Olivia is everything one would expect of an outdated soap star—dramatic, stubborn and seemingly out-of-touch. Hope is exactly the opposite, shaped by a desire to avoid her mother’s tendencies. Dylan is a loose canon with radical desires to always be on the front lines. Crochiere artfully shapes these stereotypes at the onset of the novel and slowly unveils the complexities of each woman, resulting in unmatched hidden depth and character development. Though the novel itself is fast-paced, Crochiere uses every page to draw out the formative change that takes place in Olivia, Hope and Dylan to illustrate the power within everyone to change their own narrative and accept misconceptions.

Graceland leaves readers with a warm, hopeful feeling through its strong ideas of transformation, reconnection and resilience. Crochiere constructs a colorful narrative interspersed with fun interjections of Elvis impersonators, jealous soap stars and even ferrets. This read is a must for anyone seeking a new lighthearted adventure through the South.

Graceland is out now and is one of our Summer Reading Picks.

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