Where the Heart Is--Billie Letts

| | Comments (1)

Continuing my beach-reading reviews in a slightly differen vein. My wife informs me that this was made into a movie--I hadn't realized that fact, and I can't imagine it. They must have pruned out large swathes of it (or perhaps not) in order for it not to be entirely depressing. The book itself is NOT depressing, but I could see a very downbeat movie being made from it.

The story centers around 17 year old Novalee Nation who is travelling across country with her boyfriend Willy Jack Pickens to make their fortune in California. Novalee is 7 months pregnant and desperately in need of a potty break when they enter the town of Sequoyah, OK. She spots a Wal-Mart and gets her boyfriend to pull over so she can buy some "house shoes." She enters the store and after taking care of the primary business goes up the register with a ten-dollar bill and gets $7.77 cents change. Seven is not a good number for Novalee, and she realizes that her boyfriend has abandoned her.

With this inauspicious beginning we are introduced to an odd array of characters who help Novalee make a life for herself:

--Sister Husband believes that reading the Bible is confusing. If you read a lot you you get very confused, if you read a little, you are only a little confused. So Sister Husband hands out Bibles a chapter at a time. When she first meets Novalee, she doesn't have any chapters to give her because she's just handed out her last Deuteronomy and two Lamentations because, she says, "I just stopped by the bus station and met a woman going to New Orleans. A woman going to New Orleans cannot have too many lamentations."

--Lexie--the friend with five children by four different fathers who seems never to pick the right man or the right diet. One of her notions for a diet is to stand up while eating McDonald's food.

--Moses Whitecotton--who introduces her to a love of art and vision.

There are others, of course, but this is a sampling. What I derived from the book is a powerful sense of the healing power of community and of selfless love that is still possible among people who have not gotten swept up into the "American Dream" of a Bel-Air Mansion and swimming pool.

I enjoyed the book tremendously (but then I'm a sucker for the 'I lived for a month in the Grocery Store without anyone knowing about it' genre). And I heartily recommend it (pardon the pun), for those looking for a charming, funny, sad, and sometimes moving exploration of human relationships. Billie Letts reminds me of Anne Tyler at her very best. I hope the other book I picked up The Honk and Holler Opening Soon is as amusing.

Recommended--good beach reading.

Bookmark and Share


I recall seeing the movie (or at least parts of it) and it seemed pretty good. But I have not read the book - seems the movie pretty much followed the story line (as I recall, the bolting boyfriend does happen to come back for some sort of confrontation, but I forgot what happened).



About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on July 20, 2004 7:04 AM.

Ice Hunt--James Rollins was the previous entry in this blog.

What Does DVC Say About Us as a Society is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

My Blogroll