This book is on several lists as a Newbery contender. I agree with that opinion, to a certain point. Love Me Tender is well written with strong characters working through conflict and uncertainty. The story is nicely paced, no long stalls that bore you. Overall a great book that I would recommend to anyone over 10 but only if she's a girl. Love Me Tender is a definite CHICK LIT. (Literature for females, much like a Chick Flick is a movie for females.) If it were to win the Newbery, many boys might be made to suffer through the reading, just because it's an award winner. Limited audience - that's my biggest strike against it.
The main character is Elvira, 13 and frustrated with her role as big sister to Kerri, 8, which sometimes becomes more of a primary care giver role than just big sister. Elvira's mother is pregnant and hands over the care of home and younger sibling to Elvira. The father, one of only 2 male characters in the whole book, is an Elvis impersonator, complete with dyed black hair and guitar. Elvira's mother gets a call about her own mother's health at the same time the father is leaving to another Elvis competition, against the wishes of the mother. Elvira, Kerri, and their mother pack up to make the road trip to Tennessee while the father drives off toward Las Vegas. Elvira and Kerri are left feeling quite uncertain about their parents' marriage.
The best part of this book is the relationships: sister to sister, mother to daughter. Elvira goes through the normal 13 year old topsy-turvy feelings for both her sister and mother, hating them one moment, wishing them gone far away, then the next moment feeling protective and caring. I like Elvira; she's a straight talker and a hard worker. The ending to Love Me Tender was a bit too Disney for me, wrapped up nicely, things working out. But overall, a good read. Thank you very much!