A Thousand Miles to Graceland by Kristen Mei Chase
1/24/2023 by Forever
Review by Angela
This is labeled on Amazon as a romantic comedy, and it is 100% NOT a romantic comedy. In fact, I would say this isn’t a romance at all. A Thousand Miles to Graceland is mainly a road trip book between a daughter who escaped her chaotic, toxic home after college and her Chinese-American flamboyant, Elvis-loving mother that ends up being a journey of self-discovery and mother/daughter connection. I would firmly plant it in the WF genre.
The first half of this book felt heavy. Grace is an accountant, not because she has a deep passion for numbers or math, but because she felt it would be a good profession once out of college. She’s married to a man with whom she doesn’t feel an emotional connection or any passion. She only goes home to Texas every few years to see her mother, who clearly embarrasses her with her flashy clothes and beehive wigs. The only real connection she has is with her friend Asha, who she regularly checks in with by text throughout her journey. Grace is not confident in her feelings or her life. She’s a little lost and not emotionally available to anyone.
When her mother calls out of the blue to ask her to take her on a seventieth-birthday trip to Graceland, just the two of them, her first inclination is to make excuses and bow out. But when her husband admits to an affair and asks for a divorce, she decides she needs to get out of town and take the trip with her mom.
I will admit to not really liking Grace when first introduced. She isn’t the most charming, charismatic character and every thought in her head is negative, snarky, and full of judgment. Especially when it comes to Loralynn, her mother. But I knew there HAD to be something else going on besides her constant dislike of her mother’s clothing choices and Elvis collection. And I was right. The second half of the book, after Grace and her mom get on the road and start to spend time together, is more uplifting as mother and daughter begin to clear the air about their misunderstandings of each other and the past, and really start to connect.
Grace realizes that she’s living her life kind of on the back burner, not with any hope or excitement, just day-to-day, but all of that is rooted in the trauma she experienced in her childhood. She doesn’t understand certain choices Loralynn made either, and it’s not until they really talk that she begins to understand. There is also the fact that her mother is ill, really ill, and Grace knows she has a limited amount of time to spend with her. The Grace at the end of the book felt freer and more emotionally available as the made peace with her mother and her past.
There ARE lighter moments, this is a road trip to Graceland after all, but I still felt the heaviness of the subject matter overshadowed much of what was supposed to be fun scenes. My subconscious always knew that these two might not make it all the way to their destination. I will say that I enjoyed reading the epilogue and the changes Grace made in her life.
I did enjoy this read, even though the subject matter was somber. I would urge readers to read the content warnings first, as some of the themes may be triggering.
Final grade- B
Content Warnings- Divorce, cheating, panic attacks, anxiety, cancer diagnosis of a family member, domestic abuse, racism, death of a family member off page