And then I met Elvis…
Growing up as a teenager can be rough for anybody, and sometimes all we want is to be able to fit in without drawing too much attention to ourselves. Unfortunately for Tim in Douglas Bari’s And Then I Met Elvis… that seems too much to ask for.
Thirteeen going on fourteen years old, Tim is subject to the impulses and decisions of his mother who, at the story’s open, has them moving their trailer home to a new neighborhood. Even though summer vacation is just around the corner, he is still expected to go to school as the new kid for the last couple weeks of session, which did not go unnoticed by the resident school bullies. There could be any number of reasons for a bully to latch on to its prey and, in Tim’s case, the classmate called Moosie found his motivations.
Some of the subject matter in Bari’s novel is tough and can be difficult: Tim’s father is gone, his mother is an abusive alcoholic prioritizing her own needs for which Tim looks after, and often times, there is not enough food in the house. There are also many encounters between Tim and secondary or tertiary characters that are uncomfortable, though the story does a nice job of not dwelling on these interactions for too long.
It is not all dark though! Tim meets another kid his age that has just moved into the trailer park complex where he lives. Tim’s new friend, whom he nicknames Elvis, is described as large and tall, towering over the other kids their age. The two of them find solace in hanging out together at their neighbor’s house or at the local pizza parlor where they spend their spare change playing songs on the Juke Box. And, most of all, Tim finds solace in listening to the Beatles. Much to Tim’s delight, the presence of his new friend, Elvis, at school, once the summer comes to an end, also seems to tip the scales with the bullies, if only momentarily.
Tim and Elvis have a multitude of experiences as friends that brings them closer throughout the novel, and I wish I could say that there was a distinct turning point in which everything became better and easy for Tim, but that is not the course of the story. Despite the difficult behaviors displayed by the characters, in language and sometimes-crass circumstances, Douglas Bari wrote a novel that was quick to get through as each chapter flowed into the next. And while Timothy, though troubled for many reasons and certainly not a model-behavior teen, was never written as unlikeable, which provides When I Met Elvis with a certain charm.
|Page Count||256 pages|
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