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book reviews

Love Me Tender by Audrey Couloumbis

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Relationships are complicated—especially relationships with family.  But imagine that your dad is an Elvis impersonator who moonlights as a landscaper.  Top it off with the fact that you’re a 13-year-old girl with an annoying 8-year old-sister and your mother, who is far too old for this, is expecting another baby.  As if being a teenager isn’t hard enough!  Newbery Honor-winning author Audrey Couloumbis’s novel, Love Me Tender, tells of a family struggling to adapt to the abrupt changes in their lives and a complicated past.

Told through the eyes of Elvira worries for her kid sister, Kerrie, and her pregnant mother, Mel, as her father fleas from the tension of the house to attend an Elvis impersonation contest in Las Vegas.  Elvira’s fears escalate when the last instructions she hears from her father are, “Don’t let things fall apart once I’m gone.” Assuming the worst, Elvira frets over what her future life will be like without a father and having two younger siblings to help take care of.

Not long after her father’s departure, an urgent phone call from an aunt that Elvira has never met forces Mel back to a home she hasn’t visited in years, toting Elvira and Kerrie along for the trip. Reunited with an estranged grandmother and aunt, things are far from perfect. The sibling rivalry between Elvira’s mother and Aunt Clare reignites past grievances.

Through the eyes of a spunky thirteen-year old girl, Love Me Tender combines humor and drama to tell a story of family who rediscovers what being a sister, mother, and aunt is all about.
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published October 10, 2013
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