Y'all know that on occasion I love a book full of good ol', down home Southern charm. The Florabama Ladies' Auxillary and Sewing Circle and The Cracker Queen have been a couple of my favorites this year. Billie Letts' Where the Heart Is fits right in.
The book is about Novalee Nation, a Tennessee-born seven-month pregnant seventeen-year-old with $7.77 to her name. She's also got a superstition about the number seven. She's been abandoned by practically everyone in her life, and she's headed west to start her life over before her baby comes. Things go sour pretty quickly, and she winds up stuck in Oklahoma. Southern hospitality kicks in, and she relies on the kindness of strangers to get her life back on track. There are many, many bumps along the way, and Novalee goes through more as a teenager than a lot of people do in a lifetime.
I really enjoyed Where the Heart Is. There's a lot of sadness in this book, but it's also so funny. I laughed out loud more than a few times. But I mostly loved this book because the characters were so likeable. You've heard me rage a few times this year about books that had characters that I just didn't like, and it ruined the whole book for me. That's not the case with this book. Other than the handful of characters that you're not supposed to like, this book is full of good people. Crazy people, but good people... People who took Novalee in and loved her even when her own family didn't, people who knew exactly what she needed when even she didn't know. That's refreshing. And I especially liked Novalee. She's tough and clever when she has to be, but really, she's just a kid. She's so innocent sometimes it breaks your heart. I'm realizing as I type this that I apparently got a little over-invested in this book. Oh, well. That's OK.
Is this a ground-breaking peice of intellectual literature? No, it's not. But it's good. It's well-written and endearing, so don't let the fact that it's promoted as one of those "feel-good" books or whatever. It's better than that. Don't let the movie fool you either. It happened to come on TV the day I finished the book (strange, huh?), so I watched it, and it wasn't terrible, but it doesn't touch the book. I do love Natalie Portman, though... Dang. What a stunner.
Anyway, get yourself this book for Christmas. And you can pretend it's from me.
Read from December 7, 2010 to December 15, 2010.