Title: Blue Like Elvis
Author: Diane Moody
Publisher: Green Darner Press
Release Date: March 2012
Length: 370 pages
Series?: Moody Blue #2
Genre: Historical, Christian, Romance
Do you remember where you were the day Elvis died?
I do. I know exactly where I was.
I was there.
In the spring of 1977, Shelby Colter moved back to Memphis, Tennessee hoping to make a fresh start after breaking off her engagement. Working as a patient representative hostess at Baptist Memorial Hospital–the world’s largest private hospital–she’s thrilled with her new job, assisting patients with their non-medical needs. She has to laugh at her colorful co-workers who constantly chat about Elvis-sightings. After all, Baptist Memorial was “Elvis’s hospital.”
Shelby hits the ground running, taking care of her patients, getting to know her new friends, and bumping into . . . Dr. Tucker Thompson? Who knew that annoying kid who used to hang out with her big brother was now a resident at Baptist Memorial Hospital? Little Chubby Tucker–a compassionate, handsome doctor?
As the summer rolls along, three people she loves face life-threatening situations, drawing Shelby back to her faith. And then one night, in a hospital prayer room, she pours out her heart to a most unexpected visitor . . .
Blue Like Elvis is loosely based on the author’s real-life experiences while working at Baptist Memorial Hospital in the summer of 1977. While most of the novel is fiction, the setting of Shelby’s adventures are based on the author’s memories of those days in Memphis leading up to that unforgettable day . . . the day Elvis died
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After graduating college, Shelby moves back to Memphis to start over after breaking off her engagement. It’s the summer of 1977 and her college roommate helps her land a job at Baptist Memorial Hospital as a “hostess.” The hostess team operates similarly to stewardesses. They attend to non-medical needs of the patients by visiting them, running errands, and anything else the patients may need. Shelby is particularly good at what she does and has a few constant patients whose stories impact her greatly.
The thing about BMH is that is the world’s largest private hospital. It is also Elvis’s hospital, Shelby soon learns. Whenever needed, Elvis takes over the 16th floor for one of his two-week “stays.” Shelby has had a few sightings of Elvis, but it isn’t until she grasps that he is in her hospital that she takes a particular interest in him, even sneaking her patient friend Donnie to see him, ending in a hilarous and heart-beating episode.
Her coworkers on the hostess team are young, Christian girls who like to chatter and flounder when the boss isn’t around. They are an interesting mix and fun-loving and playful. The contrast to their setting didn’t go unnoticed, and when Dr. Tucker Thompson takes an interest in striking a frienship with Shelby, there is nothing but talk. And confusion. This is Chubby Tucker – her brother’s best friend and boy from her childhood that picked on her. He was annoying and obnoxious. Now he’s handsome and kind. As all the girls try to push Shelby into a match, she must work things out on her own, take things slow, and focus on her faith.
Shelby Colter – a young girl fresh out of college; hired by Baptist Memorial Hospital as a “hostess”
Tucker Thompson – the chubby kid who was friend to Shelby’s brother; he is now a doctor at BMH
Sandra Garcia – the feisty Puerto Rican in the hostess program with Shelby; they become friends and roommates
“That shy little girl I had to coax to sit on my knee? That was you?” His smile grew bigger.
The Highs and Lows
- The Plot. The story is told as a flashback of memories. It opens with a young man seeking out the elderly Shelby to research the hostess program that was at Baptist Memorial Hospital, the largest private hospital in the world at its time. The hostess program worked very similar to attending stewardesses at the time. The young man wants to implement a similar program at his own hospital and gets swept up in Shelby’s stories that he wants to hear them all. Her past and Elvis’s final day unfold.
- Elvis. You don’t have to be an Elvis fan to enjoy this story. I happen to be one thanks to the love my grandmother had for him. Growing up, when a certain aunt and uncle would come to visit, they would bring her an Elvis record. Elvis brought a change to the music industry and was an insane success. While the book never directly speaks to drug use, it only hints to that being rumors and what people said, and disregarded it as factual, but several times pointed out that Baptist Memorial was “Elvis’s hospital” for his “stays” to get back right with the world, like it is a retreat and not a hospital. Elvis appeared a few times throughout the book, and I loved the way he would talk to the other characters. He wasn’t a big star, he was another person. It only increased my wish that I could have met Elvis, but that was another lifetime. Shelby really didn’t get the big Elvis draw, despite meeting him as a child and her father being “Cadillac Jack,” Elvis’s Caddy dealer. After working at the hospital for a time, she becomes interested in Elvis. His costumes to hide in plain sight were slightly comical, especially the final one toward the end.
- Christian Overtones. I have made it a point before that I don’t read pushy religious material. While this is a very conscientious Christian book, it didn’t feel pushy. It just felt right for Shelby and her friends. Seeing the shaken foundation and the strength of their faith was rewarding and reassuring. The Singles Club is a group of young professionals at the church that host get-togethers and fellowship. There are some comedic moments with Pedro the Yellow Headed Amazon, the Killer Bs who are socially awkward, hit on all the girls, and have a spectacular fireworks display.
- Quick and Fun. This is such a quick read. The writing immersed me in the stories Shelby told and I felt like I was there. The retelling of her memories was sweet, sentimental, funny, but they didn’t leave out the bad, either. It wasn’t a rose-colored glasses retelling, and I appreciated that.
- Heavy. I won’t say it’s light. When Shelby comes up against some trials, they test her trust. This is how she first meets the Reverand. Later this is how she first meets a man wearing a turquoise bracelet in a hospital prayer room. It is none other than Elvis, and they are both there to pray for the same man. They share an incredible few moments wrapped in love and faith, and Elvis leaves a memento for Shelby. Shelby’s brother also finally comes home from Vietnam. He is not the same despite what he shows to his family. His behavior breaks her trust in Tucker, who only tries to help.
- The Ending. This was such a twist! Even when retelling, the young man doesn’t believe Shelby’s story of her 10-year anniversary trip to Hawaii. It isn’t until she shows him a stack of Christmas cards that he believes the unimaginable. The ending gave me hope that perhaps something like that did happen and no one is the wiser.
Born in Texas and raised in Oklahoma, Diane Hale Moody is a graduate of Oklahoma State University. She lives with her husband Ken in the rolling hills just outside of Nashville. They are the proud parents of two grown and extraordinary children, Hannah and Ben.
Just after moving to Tennessee in 1999, Diane felt the tug of a long-neglected passion to write again. Since then, she’s written a column for her local newspaper, feature articles for various magazines and curriculum, and several novels with a dozen more stories eagerly vying for her attention.
When she’s not reading or writing, Diane enjoys an eclectic taste in music and movies, great coffee, the company of good friends, and the adoration of a peculiar little pooch named Darby.
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