Laura's Reviews > Where the Heart Is

Where the Heart Is by Billie Letts
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Mar 08, 10

Read in March, 2010

I can now say I have read an Oprah’s Book Club book. I read this not because it was an OBC recommendation, but because I have seen the movie that was based on this book and I wanted to read what the movie screen writers chose to change or leave out of this story when they made the movie. One advantage I see in reading the book after you have seen the movie is that you have readily available in your mind, pictures of the primary characters in the story so that your able to visualize both the characters and the events very easily. “Where the Heart Is” is the story of Novalee Nation. When you first encounter Novalee she is a 17 year old girl, seven months pregnant with her boy friend’s child and she and the boy friend are en route to greener pastures they hope. Novalee persuades the boy friend to stop at a WalMart in Sequoyah, Oklahoma so she can pay a much overdue visit to the ladies room and buy herself a pair of shoes to replace the ones she lost through a hole in the floorboard of the car. When she finishes her business in the store she returns to the parking lot to find that both the car and the boy friend are gone. Thinking he has taken the car for a few minor repairs she sits down on a bench near the front of the store and waits for his return. Much later in that same day Novalee is still waiting but beginning to suspect that Willie Jack has left her. She returns to the WalMart restroom and falls asleep sitting on the floor of the restroom. When she awakens she discovers the store is closed and locked up with her inside. She has no money and nowhere to go. She decides the WalMart store is not such a bad place to be. She finds a few things to eat, makes herself a makeshift bedroom with a sleeping bag, pillow, night stand, lamp and several alarm clocks and spends the night in the WalMart store. The alarms on the clocks go off about 5:00am the next morning and she wakes up, puts everything back on the shelves, goes to the restroom and washes up, changes into clean clothes and waits until the store opens for the day before she comes out and looks for all the world like a customer. Novalee uses a note book to keep track of every single item she uses in the store. At this point you have been drawn into the life of this young girl and care enough about her to want some good things to happen for her. In spite of all the disheartening things that happen to her she has a loving and compassionate nature that draws people to her who rally to her aid and become her make-shift family. Most of these folks are wise, generous and goodly souls who bring much strength and humor to this story. There is from time to time some strong language spoken by some of the characters that made me uncomfortable but seemed consistent for the characters using it. There is also one event in the story that centers around a violent pedophile that I wish the author would have chosen to be less descriptive about. The same event occurs in the film version but is not spelled out in detail like it is in the novel. Novalee has become one of my favorite literary characters. She’s a good soul.
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