The novel opens circa 1985. Novalee Nation, the heroine, is seven months pregnant. She is with her boyfriend, and they're both heading west. He's a man without integrity, to say the least. He does reluctantly give her a ten dollar bill so she can go buy some shoes when her own shoes are lost through the hole in the floor of his car. But he expects a good bit of change back. Or does he? Was he planning to abandon her at the Walmart all along? Or did he just get tired of waiting? Does it matter? The truth is that Novalee Nation is left at a Walmart in a small town in Oklahoma with only $7.77. She has no family to call, no friends either. So Novalee settles down in Walmart for the rest of her pregnancy, hiding when need be, so no one knows that she is living there. She ventures out during the day and meets people, meets the librarian, for example. By the end of her pregnancy, she's made a few friends. Now these new friends of hers don't know the truth exactly. But they're not the type of people who would care overly much about the truth. Novalee happens to find herself among the least judgmental folks she's ever met. The book spans seven years worth of drama. If the book has a theme it is one of 'home' and 'belonging' and 'family.'
Where the Heart Is was not a good match for me. I wanted a different book, perhaps. A book that kept the "down-to-earth" quirky characters perhaps, but, lost much of the smut. It isn't that Where the Heart Is is your traditional smutty romance--it isn't, far from it. But I thought there were certainly plenty of details that were tasteless. Why did readers need to follow Willy Jack's story at all???? Every chapter that focused on Willy Jack seemed tasteless and pointless. Why do we need to know about his time in prison? If the story had centered exclusively on Novalee Nation, would I have liked it a bit more? I think I would have. At least I wouldn't have hated it. Eliminating Willy Jack wouldn't have solved all the problems, one scene that was too much to take, and rightly so, was the child rape. The scene had every right to be disturbing. It was a horrible awful situation. Still. The details were too much. The profanity--the blasphemy--was also too much.
© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews