Fiction as Self-Help – A Thousand Miles to Graceland

Fiction as Self-Help came about because I can always find something of (self-help) value in storytelling.

Sometimes, it’s a quote that jumps out at me, like the one in The Prisoner of Azkaban, where Dumbledore says, “But you know, happiness can be found even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.” I remember reading that line. I closed the book and held it on my lap as I breathed the truth of it into my soul. It hit me that hard.

Other times, it’s the whole darned book, like Turtles All the Way Down that grabbed my anxious teenaged soul… she lives inside me. Deeeep down.

Other times, it is the story that captivates me and *will not let me go* until I turn the last page. And then, it keeps on popping in with little nudges… hours and days after I’ve finished it. Such is the case with the book I’m talking about today, A Thousand Miles to Graceland by Kristen Mei Chase.

To begin with, I’d been craving fiction and have a few in my bookcase that I haven’t yet read. None of them called out to me.

As you may remember, I’m recovering from pneumonia (Still am! This b-word is a real hanger-on-er!). I didn’t feel like going out to the big bookstore or actually, walking anywhere. However, I had to pick up some things at the drug store and they have a small book section with a decent “current reads” section. I almost never pay full price for books but I remembered I had some loyalty points… turned out enough for two books.

The other book was kinda “Meh” and I won’t be talking about it (except to say, it did keep me entertained for a few days. It was a thriller)… and this one which was (is) a winner!

I usually don’t read on work nights because I know myself. Getting up at the “crack of butt” (anything before 9am in my world – LOL) after reading until 2am is not my bag. But I digress.

I picked up this book…

Over the next several nights, I was laughing, crying, and wishing the road trip would never end!

This book is full of joy, heartache, and my favorite word: redemption.

It is the story of Grace and her Elvis-obsessed mother, Loralynn, on a bucket list journey to Graceland.

There is something on page 183 that felt “just right” to keep and remember. It’s not pivotal to the story but adds to our understanding of Grace… and anxiety. It spoke to me:

“… it felt like everything was crumbling beneath me, my brain desperately scrambling to put things back together into a semblance of normal order. My therapist has helped me understand that this was at the root of my anxiety and certainly contributed to my panic attacks. Instead of trying to loosen my grip, I tightened the reins on all aspects of my life to the point where it often felt like I was holding on for dear life.”

Not only did the words feel familiar – and helpful! – they felt healing, as a person who has suffered from anxiety and panic attacks. Ultimately, they distilled down to my Word for 2023: Surrender.

See what I mean about how fiction can teach us self-help lessons? I love that!

And truly, even though it’s a work of fiction, the words of the “therapist” sounded very true indeed!

Let go… let go… let go…

I want to be careful about NOT sharing too much about the story because “the story” IS the story. I want you to read the book!

But I will say this: The relationship between mothers and daughters – especially mothers and adult daughters – is fraught with emotional history. It seems to be a story that all women understand and share. It’s not a comfortable subject for most. Even just reading about it can be triggering.

This book *goes there* and is written with such finesse that one can only feel compassion for both sides.

As you can tell, I loved this book!

It’s *sniffle* beautiful.

PS: Trigger Warning: Alcoholism & Abuse – Not overly descriptive, it’s an overarching part of story

PS2: You’ll need tissues and will also laugh at loud. I sure did!!

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