A Novel by Diane Thomas
Toby Press, USA, 2005, Hardcover (d/j), 244 pages, ISBN: 1592641229
"My heart is smitten, and withered like grass, so that I forget to eat my bread"
Often bittersweet, The Year the Music Changed resonates with humorous episodes and emotional fragility. The contradictions and dilemmas of American society in the economically prosperous but culturally changing 1950s provide a rich textual backdrop throughout the novel. The above quotation from Psalms is evocatively reflective of the bittersweet nature of the novel.
Achsa's father forcing her to write a cease and desist letter to Elvis is a powerfully telling moment, while the connection between the novel's two central characters through Achsa's middle name is nicely symbolic and reflective of one part of the Elvis story.
Also symbolic is the final series of letters which are deliberately one dimensional, in the sense that they are all from Achsa to Elvis. They fittingly highlight the evolution of our lives and how change can be separative; in this case how Elvis' career has taken off, thereby restricting the time he has to respond to his young friend and admirer.
Verdict: The Year the Music Changed is rich in emotional depth and the insecurities of life. Diane Thomas has infused her debut novel with a powerful realism which lingers in your mind long after you have put the novel down. If you enjoy good fiction, you'll love The Year the Music Changed.
What others had to say about "The Year the Music Changed":
"Touching, funny and tender...Highly recommended."
(Library Journal Starred Review)
"Startling in its beauty!...The whole novel sings."
(David Bottoms, Georgia Poet Laureate)
"A stunning achievement...It is soul-touching and memorable, and the writing is simply dazzling."
(Terry Kay, author of To Dance with the White Dog)
"A bittersweet, funny, big hearted book."
(Joshilyn Jackson. author of Gods in Alabama)
"Elvis Presley is the supreme socio-cultural icon in the history of pop culture"
(Dr. Gary Enders)
" Elvis is the 'glue' which holds our society together....which subconciously gives our world meaning"
"Eventually everybody has to die, except Elvis"
(humorist Dave Barry)
"He is the "Big Bang", and the universe he detonated is still expanding, the pieces are still flying"
(Greil Marcus, "Dead Elvis")
"I think Elvis Presley will never be solved"
"He was the most popular man that ever walked on this planet since Christ himself was here"
"When I first heard Elvis' voice I just knew I wasn't going to work for anybody...hearing him for the first time was like busting out of jail"
"When we were kids growing up in Liverpool, all we ever wanted was to be Elvis Presley"
(Sir Paul McCartney)
"You can't say enough good things about Elvis. He was one of a kind"