Dancing with Elvis
One word: fantastic! How could one not love a book set in a 1950s Texas town peopled with characters such as Miss Mabel Hightower, the nine-fingered piano teacher? Lynda Stephenson’s debut novel opens with Frankilee Baxter and her mother rescuing Angel Musseldorf from abusive parents. Things go downhill from there: Angel moves into Frankilee’s house, closet, and life.
A book with such a plot could be easily dismissed as entertaining fluff, but fortunately there’s much more to it than that. While Frankilee struggles to get her life, clothes, and boyfriend back, the community finds itself coping with school integration and racism. In the midst of her teenage problems, she realizes some things are more important, and works to promote integration. The novel maintains a good balance between entertaining teenage angst and serious social issues. The characters are brilliantly well developed, and the plot clips along at a good pace without ever letting the reader feel certain about what’s up next. There are a couple of plot twists that make the last third of the book an unstoppable page-turner.
Dancing with Elvis is intended for those aged twelve and up, but is heartily recommended for everyone.