All Shook Up
was published on May 13, 2008 by Knopf Books for Young Readers and is written by Shelley Pearsall. It was nominated for the Young Hoosier Book Award and the Rebecca Caudill Book Award. It is recommended for ages nine to twelve and is considered a contemporary novel.
Thirteen-year-old Josh Greenwood refers to himself as shared. He has spent the last eight years, since his parents’ divorce when he was five yearsold, shuttling back and forth between two homes, one in Boston and the other in Chicago. The travel, nearly 1,000 miles each way, is hard enough on Josh, but when he is faced with an extended stay at his father’s home in Chicago, he is none too happy. This trip will mean that Josh will have to start school in Chicago, after his grandmother breaks her hip, requiring his organized mother to travel to his grandmother’s home in Florida to be her caretaker. Josh has heard that turning thirteen would be hard but he did not bargain for it being this hard.
When Josh arrives in Chicago in August, he realizes how different his father looks. His father is wearing a loud Hawaiian shirt, sunglasses, and his brown hair has been slicked back and dyed jet black. Josh learns that his father has lost his job as a shoe salesman after the store closed down and is now working as an Elvis impersonator. Josh’s father was always somewhat of a scatterbrain but still a pretty normal guy. Now he has become a hip-twisting, sideburn-wearing, and wholly embarrassing Elvis wannabe. He also has a new girlfriend named Viv who manages a vintage clothing store and is the mother of an overly friendly, hippie-type daughter, Ivory, who happens to be Josh’s age.
Josh starts attending school as a seventh grader, trying his best to fit in at the Charles W. Lister middle school. He is terrified that his classmates will find out about his father, though Josh is determined that will not happen. Still, Ivory knows his secret shame and attends the same school. On his very first day, he finds a note in his locker signed “Elvisly Yours.” In lieu of a signature, there is just a smirking purple smiley face. Josh’s humiliation runs deep.
When Viv signs his father up to perform at the school’s 50’s theme day concert, Josh feels forced to take drastic measures to prevent his father from performing.. Things get much worse before they get better but in the end, Josh learns that maybe his father isn’t as bad as he thought.All Shook Up
humorously confronts one of the most mortifying issues that today’s teens face, embarrassing parents. Josh is already unhappy about having to stay with his father but his unhappiness soon turns to anguish upon meeting up with him and noting the changes in his father’s life. The more Josh tries to hide, the more attention he receives. Pearsall tackles the relationship between a young boy and his father in a respectful and relatable way. Young boys in Josh’s age group especially will relate to his struggles and his desire to fit in and blend with his peers. All Shook Up
is both a silly and laugh-out-loud story, but it’s also a thoughtful and realistic look into the mind of a thirteen-year-old boy trying to figure out who he is and where he belongs.
Shelley Pearsall grew up in Parma, a blue-collar suburb of Cleveland, Ohio. As a young girl, she used to write in her bedroom closet. She tried to get her first novel published when she was thirteen yearsold. When she was twenty, she published her first novel entitled: Trouble Don’t Last.
Since then, Pearsall has written four more novels, including All Shook Up
, her fourth novel. She writes extensively about history and she happens to be the great-great granddaughter of an Ohio Civil War veteran. With a past including relationships to Iowa pioneers, farmers, shoemakers, glassblowers, and a cook, exploring history is fascinating to Pearsall. In addition to writing books for teens and intermediate readers, she has written opinion columns, tour brochures, non-fiction articles, ghost stories, and plays. Her work has appeared in several publications, including the New York Times
. Pearsall currently lives in Silver Lake, a small village in northeastern Ohio, along with her husband Mike and her stepson Ethan. She spends most of her time writing. In addition to writing, she runs writing workshops for youngsters and visits schools as a guest author/speaker.