Prompt #32 of the 2018 Reading Challenge directed me to choose a book from a celebrity book club. My first thought was Oprah’s book list. I think I would have looked to see what other options existed except for one thing: Where the Heart Is, by Billie Letts was already on my bookshelf waiting to be read.
This is the story of Novalee Nation, a seventeen-year old girl, seven months pregnant who is plagued by unlucky sevens. The story begins when Novalee is abandoned by her boyfriend, Willy Jack Pickens, while on their way from Tennesee to California. She ends up living in the WalMart in Sequoyah, OK. Letts takes the reader along on Novalee’s journey to “where the heart is.” It’s a sweet and emotional story, and along the way we get to meet the various people that help Novalee on this journey.
The book is primarily written from Novalee’s point of view, but occasionally, Letts drops in on some of the other characters. I have to admit, I didn’t really want to follow along with Willy Jack’s story. After the first bit from his perspective following his abandonment of Novalee, I felt like he’d gotten what was coming to him, and I really didn’t care about him any more. I just wanted to know what happened to Novalee.
In the end, Letts brings the story back together in a very satisfying conclusion. I felt like this book was well written. Letts does a fantastic job of showing the characters’ emotions through tiny details. To get the most out of this book, you’ll need to read between the lines. Because that’s where Letts has written the heart of the story – in the things she’s left unsaid.
I have no idea how this book ended up on my bookshelves. It’s not at all the kind of book I would have picked up for myself. I’m glad I read it, however. It’s the kind of story that restores your faith in humanity.