Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Where the Heart is” as Want to Read:
Where the Heart is
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Where the Heart is

3.98 of 5 stars 3.98  ·  rating details  ·  180,194 ratings  ·  2,642 reviews
This Oprah pick is the hilarious tale of teenager Novalee Nation, who sets out for a new life in California but finds herself stranded and pregnant in a Wal-Mart parking lot in Oklahoma. The eccentric inhabitants of the town -- including Sam Walton, the late owner of Wal-Mart -- pitch in to take care of Novalee in their own unusual ways. Read by Susie Breck. (Oprah's Book ...more
Hardcover, 0 pages
Published February 1st 1999 by Perfection Learning (first published January 1st 1995)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Where the Heart is, please sign up.

Popular Answered Questions

Molly I wouldn't think it would be appropriate for a 13 year old. There is sex, violence, drugs, alcoholism, prison violence etc.
This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Lindsey
Ya'll, this is the sweetest book in the history of books! I read this one in high school, right before the movie with Natalie Portman came out. That turned out to be a bad idea, because the whole time I was in the theater I was analyzing how the book and the movie differed.

Where the Heart Is tells the story of Novalee Nation, a pregnant teenager who's abandoned by her skank boyfriend in an unfamiliar Walmart. Novalee seems to charm everyone she meets, but she is naive at times and learns the ha
...more
Emily
What a colassal waste of time...i'm giving this book the finger as we speak.
karla
i loved this book. i have read many reviews by people that don't and the words "white trash" were always in there somewhere... they couldn't enjoy a book about a "white trash" heroine. i think that it's easy to judge, easy to devalue something because of personal prejudice... but if you've ever been in, known someone, or just heard about another human being in any of the situations resting in these pages, you can see the plain truth of it and it's beauty.
Marnie
Feb 14, 2008 Marnie rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: no one
This book was horrible, if I could give it half a star I would. It's really unrealistic, if someone was living in a Wal Mart in real life, they'd be arrested, not given a job. And I thought Forney was a complete loser & Novalee was dumb to be so attracted to him, & I think the author had way too much fun thinking of ways that God could punish Willy Jack, the loser father of the baby, because all these horrible things happen to him. It makes teenage motherhood look glamorous & sends t ...more
Hayley
I read this book in high school and it sparked an interest in reading that was pretty much non-existent until then. Thanks Miss Illingworth! I also saw this movie, and although it was cute, I am much more connected to Letts's fabulous characters as they were described on paper. She has a true gift of making you connect with the people in her stories. Their "real-ness" is something to be applauded.
HeavyReader
This book was pretty much a worthless piece of fluff. Anything this book does, any Barbara Kingsolver book will do about 2000 times better. This book is right on the border of dreadful.

I must have gotten this book out of the trash. I hope I didn't pay even 20 cents for it at the Social Services League. Maybe I got it on $5 bag day at the Friends of the Library book sale. All I can say is that any amount I paid for this book was TOO MUCH!

I read it when I was on a trip to visit Cassidy. I read it
...more
Brooke
Having seen the movie several times I already really knew this story. This book came out when I was only 5 years old and it is crazy that it has taken me this long to pick it up.

I enjoyed it for the most part! The book gives a lot more detail character wise than the movie which was nice on occasion, but I thought the movie did a good job editing the characters especially Willy Jack; there was some unneeded scenes with him.

Having said that this story is filled with great side characters. Moses
...more
Rebecca
The upbeat side of tragedy comes through at every turn and the reader is pleasantly left with the optimism that good will prevail. A joy to read and emotionally satisfing along the way.
Rachel
Where the Heart Is is a story about a 17-year old pregnant girl called Novallee on a road trip to California from her home in Tennessee with her boyfriend, hoping to find a happy home with her boyfriend working on the railroads. Never has Novallee ever lived in a house and she wants to make sure that her baby grows up in the best environment that she can create. Novallee keeps a journal full of magazine pictures of houses and she looks through them, imagining her dream house in her head. But get ...more
Siobhan Colley
I was introduced to this book since i watched the film first, and thought it was beautiful. This book didn't dissapoint me, it had beauty and love. Some may say its unbelivable or incourages teenage pregancy, since all ends well. But i don't believe thats true this book is about the good and bad in life, how sometimes a bad situation that looks like it will never get better, can be the begginning. A start to someones history, a start to someones life, a chance to become someone new. I related to ...more
Beth
This is an Oprah recommended book which is why I began it. I didn't finish it --- a rare thing for me, but really, I couldn't spend any more time with the naive, starry-eyed, po' white trash heroine. She's 17, pregnant, and has been abandoned at a Walmart by her do-wrong boyfriend. When she gets her hands on some money the first thing she does is turn it over to her mother who abandoned her when she was nine (or something). Loser Mom read about her daughter in the paper because daughter had her ...more
Desislava
The story was pretty good at first, but after I was done with half of it I had to force my self to read the rest. It was so unrealistic. Walmart is depicted as some sort of haven for troubled souls which indicates that this book would have to have been written by an American.

It was a little too predictable. Some authors can carry off nutty characters but Billie Letts didn't convince me with the people in this story. Novalee Nation is just a little too perfect in her abandonment. Just a little t
...more
Christine
First, let me start off by saying this book was made into a movie (starring Natalie Portman and Ashley Judd) in 2000. It is one of those feel good flicks (you know the type, the kind that plays on Lifetime) and I saw it a few years ago. I'm one of those people who prefers to read a book prior to watching the movie adaptation, because I like to visualize the characters and scenes myself. There is a certain thrill of a story unfolding on a page vs. a movie screen (and the book is almost always mor ...more
 Danielle The Book Huntress (Self-Proclaimed Book Ninja)
Great book. I read it in 4 hours and spent most of that time crying. Definitely a book that stays with you and warms your heart. The movie version was actually pretty darn faithful but doesn't take the place of this gem.
Stacey
I admit my review is a little skewed as I had seen the movie several times before ever reading this book. I think that made the book a little less exciting, hence the 3 stars. I did however enjoy reading it and noting all the differences between the book and the movie. I think that I like the book better, as usual. I still found it satisfactory enough that I read it quite quickly, by my standards. It only took me about a week to complete. I was disappointed that the book seemed like it would be ...more
Denise
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sabrina
Mar 13, 2009 Sabrina rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to Sabrina by: teacher and friend
This book is so great to read if you like action. I would recommend this book to men and women and also young adults. This book is about a girl who is 17, 7 months pregnant and has hardly any money. One day her and her boyfriend are going somewhere. She realizes that she has lost her shoes and she has had to pee for a long time. He takes her to Walmart and he leaves her. She has to stay at Walmart for a while because she has no where else to go. she meets this man named Forney and he works at th ...more
Christina
This shameless promotion for Wal-Mart, I mean, novel is filled with clumsy writing, a jumpy plot, and a God awful names. The name Novalee isn’t so grating, but she names her daughter Americus. Americus Nation. Novalee is your stereotypical heroine - innocent, unsuspecting, perfect. The only two characters I did like were Sister Husband because she’s the comedic relief in Where the Heart Is and Moses Whitecotten, an older gentleman who teaches Novalee about photography and life in general.

The oth
...more
Amy
I really enjoyed this book. It was a quick read, and even though some of the subject matter was a little heavy, for the most part this was a light-hearted book. When the subject matter was heavier, I thought the author did a wonderful job writing about those subjects without making anything feel forced or sappy.

I read some of the other reviews on goodreads that said people couldn't stand how naive Novalee was. I think that was the whole point of the book. She did make some stupid decisions becau
...more
Sharon Mariampillai
Actual Rating: 4.75

I watched the movie first, and thought it was great. Learning about how Novalee became the woman she is. Though the book is a bit different, I was able to see the same growth throughout Novalee's story. I thought it was a beautiful story and I enjoyed it very much. Novalee is a great character. She is very unique and I enjoyed watching her journey through motherhood. Overall, a beautiful read.
Aylin
This is a book that somehow keeps making you feel good on one level while bad things happen. It is ultimately a very positive book. I think that is because of protagonist Novalee Nation's spirit. She is not educated but she is genuine and she is full of love and a quiet, unassuming wisdom. She is not superhuman, she does not win the lottery (literally or figuratively) but she starts with nothing and wins at life. She represents something deep and true.

Amidst difficulty and hardship, Novalee has
...more
Jamie
I really enjoyed this book. It was a quick, cute, easy read. It seems that this is a love/hate book. Don't read it expecting some great piece of high-minded literature. Take it for what it is - a feel good story about growing and changing.

Novalee Nation matures throughout the book because of the people she meets in her new home. Where the Heart is is a book about the journey that you take as you grow up.
Maeghan
This is the only book I've ever read that I wanted to throw across the room. It's very sappy and poorly written. Oh, and the story is stupid. Don't read it. Ever.
Suzanne
Didn't review at the time of reading, unfortunately, but loved this story. Heartwarming and we saw the good side of human nature in the end.
Brandon
What may appear as fluff and cheap chick lit is a masterful account of the ebb and tide of love, while there are saccharine notes there are some hard hitting truths exposed within the pages. What would happen if Romeo and Juliet survived? A young ingénue is abandoned by her paramour to face the teenage pregnancy which has become a tell of their union. Set amidst a trailer park and a Walmart in the heartland of America these motifs are indictments of the truth of the American dream and offer a st ...more
♥♥ hattie♥♥
Mar 04, 2008 ♥♥ hattie♥♥ rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone!!!!!
Recommended to ♥♥ hattie♥♥ by: My Motherrrrrr
this book is about a girl who is 17 years old and her name is Novalee Nation. Novalee and her boyfriend Willy-Jack Pickett are moving to Las Vegas so Willy-Jack can get a job uop there with his uncle in the manufacturing business. Novalee is 7 months pregnant and as we all know when women are prganant they have to pee...a lot. Novalee asks Willy-Jack to stop at Walmart so she may use the restroom and get some house shoes because the car that Willy-Jack bought for $50 has a hole in the floorboard ...more
Marissa
I'm going to be honest: I saw the movie years ago, and I absolutely loved it. I watched it countless times with my sister, laughing and crying over Novalee and Americus, Sister Husband and Forney and Lexie. But somehow it had escaped my notice that it was based on a book, and it wasn't until years later that I read it on a recommendation from a good friend. I read it in less than 24 hours. It's not the most well-written book, a little cliched at times and underdeveloped with its characters, but ...more
Katrina Gudgeon
I have no words for how much I loved this story. I remember watching the movie years and years ago, but I just recently learned it was based off a book. Novalee has had to deal with so much in her life, but she never let it change a thing about her kind heart. I can forsee myself re-reading this again in the future.
Mackenzie White
I loved this book. It was tough to get into at first, mostly because the storyline is just so unusual. But by the end of the book, I'd grown attached to the characters and and the setting. I think I liked it so much because of how plain, but at the same time plenty unusual it was. A young, pregnant teen is left alone in Walmart in a small town, and grows to call that place home. The main character is just strong minded and impressive in attractive ways. It's a great read for anyone, young or old ...more
Julie
I absolutely love Southern-fiction. Can actually hear the accent in my head while I'm reading. So this book did not disappoint. This is the first time I have read this author, and it won't be the last.

The only reason it didn't get five stars was because I already knew what to expect. I saw the movie quite a while ago, but it sort of ruined the book for me. That always happens, which is why I always try to read the book and avoid the movie altogether. Still.....a definite must-read!
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Is the book just as good as the movie? 3 14 Mar 09, 2015 04:39PM  
2015 Reading Chal...: Where the Heart Is by Billie Letts 4 26 Jan 06, 2015 04:10PM  
  • The Meanest Thing To Say
  • Gap Creek
  • Jewel
  • A Virtuous Woman
  • Mother of Pearl
  • Back Roads
  • River, Cross My Heart
  • Songs in Ordinary Time
  • The Deep End of the Ocean (Cappadora Family, #1)
  • Black and Blue
  • Patty Jane's House of Curl
  • What Looks Like Crazy on an Ordinary Day (Idlewild, #1)
  • Here on Earth
  • The Rapture of Canaan
  • The Heart of a Woman
  • While I Was Gone
  • Open House
  • The Book of Ruth
3510
Billie Letts (born in Tulsa, Oklahoma) is an American author. Earlier she worked as a professor at Southeastern Oklahoma State University. She was married to Dennis Letts until his death in 2008, and is the mother of playwright and actor Tracy Letts and jazz musician and composer Shawn Letts.
More about Billie Letts...
The Honk and Holler Opening Soon Shoot the Moon Made in the U.S.A. Unadvertised Special You've Got Mail, Billie Letts

Share This Book

“...tell them that we have some good in us, too. And the only thing worth living for is the good. That’s why we’ve got to make sure we pass it on.” 72 likes
“Then tell them we've all got meanness in us...But tell them we have some good in us too. And the only thing worth living for is the good. That's why we've got to make sure we pass it on.” 59 likes
More quotes…