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This Must Be the Place: A Novel [Kindle Edition]

Kate Racculia
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (45 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $25.99
Kindle Price: $7.99
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Sold by: Macmillan
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Book Description

A sudden death, a never-mailed postcard, and a longburied secret set the stage for a luminous and heartbreakingly real novel about lost souls finding one another

The Darby-Jones boardinghouse in Ruby Falls, New York, is home to Mona Jones and her daughter, Oneida, two loners and self-declared outcasts who have formed a perfectly insular family unit: the two of them and the three eclectic boarders living in their house. But their small, quiet life is upended when Arthur Rook shows up in the middle of a nervous breakdown, devastated by the death of his wife, carrying a pink shoe box containing all his wife's mementos and keepsakes, and holding a postcard from sixteen years ago, addressed to Mona but never sent. Slowly the contents of the box begin to fit together to tell a story--one of a powerful friendship, a lost love, and a secret that, if revealed, could change everything that Mona, Oneida, and Arthur know to be true. Or maybe the stories the box tells and the truths it brings to life will teach everyone about love--how deeply it runs, how strong it makes us, and how even when all seems lost, how tightly it brings us together. With emotional accuracy and great energy, This Must Be the Place introduces memorable, charming characters that refuse to be forgotten.

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Racculia's irresistibly charming debut is an artful mix of genres: oddball domestic (set in a boardinghouse, characters named Desdemona and Oneida), coming-of-age (high school loves and teen angst) and literary women's fiction (love, loss, and friendship). Sixteen years ago, Amy Henderson ran away from home to become a special effects creator in Hollywood. After she is killed in an on-set accident, her widower, Arthur, finds a box of memorabilia and sets off to her hometown to understand her past. He moves into a boardinghouse run by Amy's childhood best friend, Mona, and her teenage daughter, Oneida. Initially, Mona acts as Arthur's emotional nurse, but as they realize they hold answers for each other about Amy, their bond grows deeper. Oneida, meanwhile, gets involved with a local bad boy. The third act is nearly done in by an overly foreshadowed secret, but Racculia smartly keeps the focus on Oneida, Arthur, and Mona's reactions to the revelation (rather than the reveal itself). With its happy ending and rich trove of Gen-X references and humor, this is a thoroughly enjoyable first novel, both accessibly absurd and quite touching. (July)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

A quirky upstate New York boarding house is the backdrop for Racculia's ambitious debut about life, death, and love, lost and found. When Arthur Rook's wife, Amy, dies in a tragic accident, he devotes his future to understanding her past. Clues abound in a pink shoebox of keepsakes that contains a cryptic postcard addressed to Amy's childhood friend, Mona Jones. Turns out, Amy, an orphan, spent her childhood at the Darby-Jones boardinghouse, which was run by Mona's family. The two were inseparable for much of their young lives, until Amy became pregnant. Mere moments after giving birth, Amy left New York and her newborn baby behind. During an extended stay with Mona and her adolescent daughter, Oneida, Arthur slowly peels back the layers of Amy's world, discovering behind her cheery façade a host of secrets and lies. Fans of Bobbie Ann Mason and Billie Letts will enjoy this first outing from Racculia, who lessens the impact of an otherwise engaging tale by revealing a dramatic plot point prematurely and dwelling too long on Oneida's travails. --Allison Block

Product Details

  • File Size: 559 KB
  • Print Length: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.; 1 edition (June 29, 2010)
  • Sold by: Macmillan
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B003P8PEP0
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #283,060 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hard to classify, but highly entertaining May 29, 2010
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
"This Must Be The Place," Kate Racculia's debut novel, is tricky to classify. Part coming-of-age story, part romance, and part mystery -- but all entertaining.

Racculia's main characters are widower Arthur Rook, boarding house owner Mona Jones and Mona's daughter Oneida. Rook comes to stay at the Darby-Jones boarding house, operated by Mona, after his wife's death. Throw into the mix that Rook's wife was Mona's beat friend in high school for the first in a series of complications. Add a cast of entertaining boarders, Oneida's high school anxieties and issues -- and you've got the basis for the story.

It's hard to review this story without revealing spoilers, so suffice it to say that Rook is trying to understand his late wife better through a shoebox full of small belongings -- including a postcard addressed to Mona -- while Oneida tries to figure out why her mother is the way she is, and why high school is so horrible. Mona, in the mean while, is the guardian of the biggest mystery of all. The way the stories intertwine and ultimately come to their conclusion is packaged in delightful prose and entertaining characters.

Highly recommended.

(Review based on uncorrected advance proof.)
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Improbable but well worth reading June 2, 2010
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Some improbable books are magical realism, but there's none of that here, there's another kind of magic, that of quirky and likable characters. These characters have flaws but these flaws make for a good story. Arthur Rook had left Boston for L.A., met Amy who saves him in a burger joint, they marry, Amy dies in a freak accident, Arthur is devastated and leaves abruptly for Amy's home town of Ruby Falls to try to find out Amy's past. And what a past it was. Mona, Amy's former best friend, runs an inn and bakes wedding cakes while raising her daughter Oneida (oh, the spoon jokes). Oneida, a teen, is going through plenty of teenage angst and this is exacerbated by Arthur's arrival and her mother's interest in him. Oneida's fellow students, particularly Wendy (Eugene) add to the cast of entertaining characters that is rounded out by the inhabitants of the inn. From art forgery to the Beatles to movie monsters to mystery to romance, this book has it all and tells it in a very easily readable and enjoyable way.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Liked it but wanted to like it more. November 29, 2011
Format:Kindle Edition
The book has a well developed interesting plot. What I didn't like was sometimes reading it felt like driving a stick shift car for the first time, stopping and starting rather abruptly. When I finished the book I went to look at what other books this author had written and was surprised to see that this was her first book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars COLLECTIONS THAT DEFINE A LIFE July 12, 2010
The story begins with a boardwalk scene, a young girl, and a postcard.

We then leap ahead sixteen years to a couple living an ordinary life in LA; he, Arthur Rook, is a photographer, and she, Amy Henderson Rook, creates special effects in movies. They are just living day to day.

Then it all changes with a freak accident that leaves Amy dead and Arthur blindsided. Armed with a pink shoebox containing Amy's collection of objects he sees as "clues," and with a postcard and an address in Ruby Falls, NY, Arthur takes off on a journey toward answers.

His search leads him to the Darby-Jones boarding house and the proprietor Desdemona (Mona) Jones, whose life is anything but ordinary, surrounded as she is by a cast of intriguing characters who are the residents. Her daughter Oneida, awkward and friendless, is the part of her life that is important and real. And the past--the part of her life that was connected to Amy Henderson--is not something she talks about.

Arthur's residency in the house begins mysteriously; he says nothing about Amy or her box. Instead, he tries to sort through clues he finds here and there. Then an accident and an injury creates a shift between Arthur and Mona, as she sees him in a new light; someone who needs her. She nurses him back to health, they go out on jobs together (she is a wedding cake baker, he does the photography), and in this process of a developing alliance, they begin to share bits and pieces of their past.

Told from the perspective of the primary characters--Arthur, Amy, Mona, and Oneida--this story unfolds gradually into a multi-layered tale of human connections.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Anne Tyler, the Next Generation June 7, 2010
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This novel just felt right from the word go: the offbeat, yet totally plausible characters and situations, the way there was a plot, but not a melodramatic one in the least--a great vacation read. Just as in life, situations arise, coalesce or come to crisis, and then dissolve or shatter or synthesize, and another situation arises. There is a central mystery, but there is so much more--and read the book before it gets condensed into a movie---you won't want to miss a beat.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A MERITORIOUS DEBUT NOVEL July 6, 2010
We know that growing up can be difficult. Coming of age isn't easy, but it was especially onerous for Oneida Jones. And, no, as she'll be the first to tell you - she was not named after a spoon.)

In this imaginative, entertaining debut novel Oneida's home is a boarding house, the Darby-Jones in Ruby Falls, New York, run by her mother, Mona. (There is not a father in the picture as Mona had returned to Ruby Falls years earlier unwed but with baby Oneida in her arms) As if cooking and cleaning for her tenants were not enough Mona also bakes cakes, gorgeous tall wedding cakes to supplement her income. Among the boarders are Roberta Draper known as Bert, an 87-year-old curmudgeon who occupies the top floor. "She had never married, kept herself cloistered in her rooms, and made no secret of her disapproval of everything." Also in residence are Anna, the town veterinarian and Sherman, a high school shop teacher with whom Anna was having an off again on again affair.

This was the milieu in which Oneida lived and grew, which might be a challenge for any young one but especially so for Oneida as she had no friends and she was a freak. "It was nonnegotiable. It was absolute.....but it wasn't until after her twelfth birthday that she ever considered the possibility that it was something to be embraced rathr than raged against." Why did her fellow sixth graders consider her to be a freak? Because she had "huge frizzy hair and dark eyebrows that touched in the middle of her forehead, and she demanded that Mr. Buckley teach them about Japanese internment camps." Obviously, Oneida was unique, and a few steps ahead of her contemporaries.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars Two Stars
Good story line but took too long to get to the point. A bit disappointed.
Published 6 days ago by Christine Foster
5.0 out of 5 stars I really loved reading this novel
I loved the,characters and the plotline and thank my daughter for telling me that I "had" to read this book
Published 4 months ago by Rocelle Shulman
4.0 out of 5 stars Page-turner
I loved reading this book! I felt Kate successfully dropped into the minds and lives of the adult and teenage characters in many delightful ways. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Doranne
5.0 out of 5 stars I couldn't put it down for fear of missing the 'next great thing'! And...
This story kept me spellbound. I couldn't put it down for fear of missing the 'next great thing'! And the twist at the end makes the trip worthwhile.
Published 4 months ago by Lynda Lowman
5.0 out of 5 stars Still having feelings...
Racculia is a masterful world builder, deftly keeping you in suspense with realistic yet gut punching secrets. I demand more from this author! More I say! More!
Published 6 months ago by Melisa Saraceni
2.0 out of 5 stars Two Stars
Very difficult to follow. Not enjoyable
Published 9 months ago by JOAN M MARCHITTO
4.0 out of 5 stars The Bookschlepper Recommends
This is a lovely little story centering on an old apartment building in Berlin. (I really need to get back to that city. Read more
Published 10 months ago by Jean Sue Libkind
5.0 out of 5 stars I loved this novel from start to finish.
I loved this book. It made my inner and outer nerd laugh out loud, be shocked, love the characters, and most importantly, want to turn to the next page. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Nana
3.0 out of 5 stars Unique Characters, Moving Story
This was a very unique book filled with unique but incredibly human characters. The author does a great job in placing us in the story and their lives. Read more
Published 14 months ago by Amber
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful first novel by a Central New York native
I had the pleasure of editing Kate Racculia's work when she was a teenager, writing for a youth magazine put out by the newspaper I worked for. Read more
Published 15 months ago by Maria T. Welych
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More About the Author

Kate Racculia is a writer living in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. She studied illustration, design, Jane Austen, and Canada at the University of Buffalo and has her MFA from Emerson College. Kate teaches novel and genre fiction workshops at Grub Street, Boston's non-profit creative writing community. She has been a bookseller, a planetarium operator, a coffee jerk, a designer, and a proposal writer.

She was a teenage bassoonist. In her hometown of Syracuse, New York, she played in her high school band, the Lyncourt Summer Concert Band, the Syracuse Symphony Youth Orchestra, and various NYSSMA festivals. Her bassoon was named Nigel.

Bellweather Rhapsody is her second novel.

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