The only kid at Eagle Shores Trailer Park in 1978, 11-year-old Truly is persuaded into opening a lemonade stand by her neighbour and grandmother figure, Andy El, so she has something to keep her occupied. Truly daydreams about having a family that cares for her in a way her white mother, Clarice, and maternal grandmother, Mrs. Bateman, simply do not; Clarice is always off with one of her boyfriends, leaving Truly to fend for herself.
Elvis, Me, and the Lemonade Stand Summer author Leslie Gentile, like Truly, identifies as both Indigenous and settler. All Truly knows about her father is that he’s Indigenous, likes Elvis Presley, and lives in Vancouver. So, when a man who looks a lot like Elvis moves into the trailer park, Truly sees an opportunity to connect with her dad. She just needs to raise enough money for a ferry ticket to tell him that Elvis is alive, well, and living on Vancouver Island.
Truly’s easy acceptance of her mother’s neglect as commonplace grounds the story and prevents the poverty and abuse she experiences from being sensationalized. The darkness of Truly’s relationship with her mother and the racism she faces are balanced by the warmth and acceptance she receives from Andy El and the other residents of Eagle Shores Trailer Park. Though running the lemonade stand starts as a way for Truly to keep busy, it becomes the catalyst for her realization that family can be something you make for yourself.
That said, the novel does suffer from a lack of cultural specificity. For example, Andy El and her family are identified only as Coast Salish, but Coast Salish is a loose grouping of many Indigenous Nations with distinct cultures and languages. The book, set in the late 1970s, also uses dated terminology to refer to Indigenous Peoples, which teachers and parents should be mindful of when sharing it with young readers.