From School Library Journal
Grade 6–8—Josh Greenwood, 13, lives with his mom in Boston, but he is shipped off to his dad in Chicago when she has to go to Florida to care for her mother. Once there, he discovers that his shoe-salesman father has lost his job and is now an Elvis impersonator. Dad's new girlfriend owns a vintage clothing shop and her daughter, Ivory, wears outfits that are wacky mismatched blasts from the past, and she has a boyfriend who wears a dog collar. "Hard" does not even begin to cover Josh's feelings about his new life. Of course, in true middle schooler fashion, he is unable to see anything except how this situation affects him. His potential for humiliation and embarrassment are central to his character and lead to an explosive division between him and his father. Through a wonderful and believable process of discovery orchestrated partially by Ivory and her mom, father and son come to understand one another. Pearsall has given Josh an authentic voice, and his first-person narrative is engaging throughout.—Genevieve Gallagher, Murray Elementary School, Charlottesville, VA
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A child of divorce, 13-year-old Josh wryly calls himself a shared kid, meaning he spends a lot of time shuttling between his parents, who live half a continent apart. Arriving in Chicago to spend more than the usual amount of time with his dad (it’s complicated), he finds that his free-spirited father has become an Elvis impersonator. Worse, Dad’s new girlfriend has a hippie daughter, Ivory, who is Josh’s age and (a) knows the awful truth about Dad and (b) takes a likin’ to Josh. Terrified that the kids at his new school will learn about Dad, Josh tries to distance himself from Ivory—and from his well-meaning father. Pearsall’s premise is clever, but the execution is more than a tad predictable. Nevertheless, some funny moments, some offbeat characters, and some elements of suspense (Will Dad’s identity be revealed? Will Elvis leave the building?) will keep most readers engaged. Grades 5-8. --Michael Cart
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