A well-crafted if underplotted debut novel in which a daughter learns to forgive her high-maintenance, Elvis Presley-obsessed
mother after a fatal illness brings the two together for those obligatory healing moments.
Silvie Page begins her story as she packs for her honeymoon, then goes back to the subject of her childhood and Mom—or
Mimi, as an exasperated Silvie soon calls her. Chapters describing Silvie’s childhood alternate with descriptions of her arrival
in New York after graduation, hoping to be an artist; her temp jobs that lead finally to great job on a magazine with a tough but
tenderhearted editor; and her falling in love with, and eventually marrying, Scotty Perlman, an ER physician. As for the other
side of the story: Mimi married Dan Page to get away from her own demanding family, who had immigrated to Mississippi in
flight from the Nazis. Her great claim is that she later once had a date with Elvis Presley—the details vary, but her devotion to
"The King" never falters. While little Silvie played at her own childish games, Mimi would dance in her blue suede shoes to
Presley records or sew the flamboyant outfits that so embarrassed her daughter. Bored and unhappy, Mimi complained to Silvie,
competed with her, mortified her in public—even took up drawing to prove she was better. As she grows older, Silvie becomes
ever more determined to get away as soon as she can from a mother for whom "ordinary came hard." But a year after Silvie
moves to New York, Mimi calls to say she’s undergoing chemotherapy for ovarian cancer. A visit at Thanksgiving finds Mimi,
though fighting hard, obviously dying. Silvie decides to come home in an attempt to understand her mother and forgive her for
the injuries of the past before it’s too late.
A would-be feel-good story about alienated mothers and daughters brought together by a terrible disease. Middling.