Excerpts for All Shook Up
Looking back, I would say everything in my life changed the summer I turned thirteen and my dad turned into Elvis.
I’d heard people say thirteen was an unlucky number, and from the very beginning, that seemed to be true. I’d been thirteen for less than twenty-four hours when the phone call came from Florida about my grandma taking a fall on the steps of the Shadyside Episcopal Church and breaking her hip. That same day, somebody swiped my bike from the rack at the city pool because–yes–I’d stupidly left it unlocked. And then my mom decided to ship me off to Chicago for four months so she could rush to Florida to take care of my grandma.
Before arriving in Illinois in August, I didn’t know anything about my dad being Elvis. Well, that’s not quite true. I knew there were people who pretended to be Elvis. You know–sideburns, sunglasses, twisting hips, jiggly legs, and all. But I never thought my own dad would become one of them.
Neither did my mother, or she probably wouldn’t have put me on that plane. I’d have gone to Shadyside Villas instead, where I could have stayed with her and a lot of nice old people while we waited for Grandma’s hip to recover.
But my dad, in his usual style, didn’t mention a word about Elvis when my mom called him. “Great. No problem. Sure. Josh can stay with me,” he must have told her on the phone–while I stood on the other side of the kitchen doorway crossing my fingers behind my back, whispering, “No, say no” under my breath. As they were talking, I could hear my mom clattering a spoon around and around a mixing bowl, loudly making something for dinner. She never spoke to my father without sounding extremely busy.
“So you don’t mind keeping Josh?” I heard her say.
“Until Shirley’s better? The doctors told me it could be a few months. He’ll have to be enrolled in school. Are you sure this isn’t going to be a problem?”
Keep Josh. That phrase again. Like I was somebody’s pet guinea pig or prize Chihuahua getting passed back and forth. Keep Josh. Take Josh. Pick up Josh.
Note to my parents: Why not ask Josh what he would like to do?
But after eight years of being shipped between two houses almost a thousand miles apart, I knew it was pretty much useless to say anything. I was the SHARED KID and both of my parents liked me better if I seemed okay with their arrangement. So that’s why I ended up telling my mom I was fine with living in Chicago for a while and staying with my dad and even going to a different school. Although I wasn’t really fine with any of those things. Especially not the new school.
From the Hardcover edition.