From Publishers Weekly
Fictional letters between the up-and-coming Elvis Presley and Achsa J. McEachern, a precocious 14-year-old fan, make up Thomas's fanciful debut novel. Born with a disfiguring cleft palate, only child Achsa is a devoted listener to late-night WDDO, Daddy-O Radio 1360 in Atlanta. On Feb. 2, 1955, she writes her first fan letter to Presley, who at first mistakes her for a man. Presley, at 20, is just emerging on the radio circuit, soon to sign with Sun Records and take a screen test in Hollywood. For over a year, the pen pals (she calls him "Dearest Elvis"; he calls her "Baby Girl") share their mutual admiration for James Dean, their secret shames and dreams and their devotion to (and annoyance with) their mothers (Presley's is overprotective, while Achsa's is at odds with her insanely jealous husband). Achsa reveals her feelings of social exclusion at school while Presley confesses to sinful temptations on the road. Achsa's letters are long and thoughtful; Presley, in turn, comes off as an aw-shucks, God-fearing kid (with really bad grammar) who wants to sing gospel music and make people happy. Thomas has delved into Presley biographies, communed with his fans on the Internet and produced a warm, lively and immensely readable novel that will especially touch fans of "the King." (Sept.)
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"'The Year the Music Changed may engrave itself into the memories of more readers than "To Kill a Mockingbird." . . . . [It's] the most satisfying novel I've read in many years." —Atlanta Journal-Constitution
, Sept. 4, 2005
"Warm, lively and immensely readable." —Publishers Weekly
, June 27, 2005
"Sweet and gripping. . . . A touching coming-of-age tale." —Kirkus Reviews
, July 1, 2005
"A touching, funny, tender exchange between two people trying to find their way through thorny emotional terrain. Highly recommended." —Library Journal **Starred Review**
"I think it's terrific." —bestselling author Pat Conroy, "What I'm Reading," in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
, July 2, 2006.
"A nearly impossible feat of the creative imagination, defying the stigma of epistolary fiction and, better, defying the overpowering cliche of Elvis Presley." —Raleigh News-Observer
, October 2005
"Does the world need another book about Elvis? Maybe so, if it's as good as The Year the Music Changed
. Thomas pulls off the novel with panache." —Columbus [Ohio] Dispatch