Another year, another Good Reads Challenge goal, and I’m so happy to get the year started with the first novel by Cool Mom Picks’ own co-founder Kristen Mei Chase,  A Thousand Miles to Graceland.

If you love to read tender, funny, and cathartic stories about complicated mother-daughter relationships, I think this is one road trip you’ll want to take.

This post contains affiliate links, and purchases may generate a small commission that helps support our team at no additional cost to you. And while of course I work for Kristen, she had no input into my article — just my words!

A Thousand Miles to Graceland tells the story of Grace, an overachieving but unsatisfied accountant currently living in Boston, and her super eccentric, Elvis-obsessed, Chinese-American mother, Loralynn, who has remained in Texas.  When Grace’s life starts to fall apart, she reluctantly agrees to drive her mom from El Paso to Memphis to fulfill her mom’s 70th birthday wish: visiting Graceland.

During this trip, the two come to terms with a lifetime of hurt, resentment and misunderstanding, as well as try to find a way to bridge the difference between their widely different personalities  — and to do so before they reach the end of the road.

Related: We are so proud of the many books our contributors have written over the years including Stacie Bills, Delilah Dawson (and her alias Lila Bowen), Nicole Blades, and the writing pair of Kate Etue and Caroline Siegrist!

Order A Thousand Miles to Graceland, the first novel by Kristen Mei Chase of Cool Mom Picks

As a bi-racial Asian American herself, Kristen makes a point to depict the difficulties in assimilating into a culture that isn’t always kind to Asian Americans. Even Lolalynn’s outward devotion to the All-American “King” himself cannot protect her from being treated as an outsider at times. But I can also empathize with Grace, who yearns for a mother who is not so darned conspicuous. Boy, does that remind me of the way my own kids feel about their louder-than-average mom — and how I used to feel about my own Austrian immigrant mother’s English mispronunciations. It all seemed seemed so embarrassing and different when I was a kid, and I know a lot of children of immigrants (see also Mira Jacob’s extraordinary Good Talk: A Memoir in Conversations) can relate to those mixed feelings, making it relatable to many of us with tough parental relationships as adults. Even if our parents aren’t quite the extreme caricature represented by Lolalynn.

Related: 7 must-read children’s books about inspiring Asian-Americans

In other words, you can enjoy this book whether or not you are bi-racial, love Elvis, or have ever made plans for a thousand-mile road trip alone with a parent. Toss in some fun scenic landmarks, a not-so-new love interest, and a medical scare that heightens the stakes and threatens to take them off the road for good, and I found this book to be a speedy read that gave me lots to think about after it was finished.

Take it for a spin and see where it takes you.

A Thousand Miles to Graceland is available on Amazon starting January 24, or check your favorite local bookstore to see if they can order a copy if it’s not in stock. For a signed copy, please order through The Doylestown Bookshop. And if you’ll be in the Philadelphia area, catch Kristen at The Doylestown Bookshop on January 24, 2023 at 6pm. 

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