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Where the Heart is (Oprah's Book Club) Hardcover – February 1, 1999


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Product Details

  • Series: Oprah's Book Club
  • Hardcover
  • Publisher: Perfection Learning (February 1, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0756902738
  • ISBN-13: 978-0756902735
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.3 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,385 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,016,115 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Oprah Book Club® Selection, December 1998: A funny thing happens to Novalee Nation on her way to Bakersfield, California. Her ne'er-do-well boyfriend, Willie Jack Pickens, abandons her in an Oklahoma Wal-Mart and takes off on his own, leaving her with just 10 dollars and the clothes on her back. Not that hard luck is anything new to Novalee, who is "seventeen, seven months pregnant, thirty-seven pounds overweight--and superstitious about sevens.... For most people, sevens were lucky. But not for her," Billie Letts writes. "She'd had a bad history with them, starting with her seventh birthday, the day Momma Nell ran away with a baseball umpire named Fred..."

Still, finding herself alone and penniless in Sequoyah, Oklahoma is enough to make even someone as inured to ill fortune as Novalee want to give up and die. Fortunately, the Wal-Mart parking lot is the Sequoyah equivalent of a town square, and within hours Novalee has met three people who will change her life: Sister Thelma Husband, a kindly eccentric; Benny Goodluck, a young Native American boy; and Moses Whitecotton, an elderly African American photographer. For the next two months, Novalee surreptitiously makes her home in the Wal-Mart, sleeping there at night, exploring the town by day. When she goes into labor and delivers her baby there, however, Novalee learns that sometimes it's not so bad to depend on the kindness of strangers--especially if one of them happens to be Sam Walton, the superchain's founder.

Where the Heart Is oddly mixes heart-warming vignettes and surprising, brutal violence. Novalee's story is juxtaposed with occasional chapters chronicling Willy Jack's downward spiral into prison, disappointment, and degradation. And even in Sequoyah, sudden storms, domestic violence, kidnapping, and deadly fires punctuate Novalee's progress from homeless, unwed teen mom to successful, happy member of the community. This is not a subtle book; there's never any doubt that our heroine will make a home for herself and her baby or that Willy Jack will get what he deserves for abandoning them. Still, Billie Letts has created several memorable characters, and there's always room for another novel that celebrates the life-affirming qualities of reading, the importance of education, and the power of love to change lives. --Alix Wilber --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

From Publishers Weekly

Letts's debut novel concerns a pregnant teenage girl who finds a new life among the quirky inhabitants of a small town in Oklahoma.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

This is a wonderful story about very quirky characters.
Emily Dickenson
Each of the characters, in his or her own way, teaches Novalee valuable lessons about life, trust, friendship and love.
M. Desoer
By the time the book ends, you will want to read more about them.
impossible girl

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

43 of 45 people found the following review helpful By dikybabe on March 4, 2001
Format: Paperback
You know that you like to laugh, as well as feel sober and near tears. This is a book that should please. The well-thumbed trade paperback in our library continues to be checked out and praised. Even since the movie was released, folks still want to read the words of Billie Letts, a comic, heart-felt word crafter.
Such great names as Novalee and Americus Nation, Willy Jack Pickens, Sister Husband, Moses Whitecotton, make the reader want to see what this is all about. And Novalee's superstition over the number 7 adds to the folksie manner in which Letts develops her story. As to plot, a baby born in a Wal-Mart, why not?
In one episode, you find yourself laughing out loud, and in another there is suspense, sorrow, and a teary eye. Letts gives you the full experience in a book that can't be put down. Add these characters to your friends in print. And read The Honk And Holler Opening Soon, too. While not a sequel, exactly, it does depict another set of Sequoiah, Oklahomans who are a part of another good story.
Letts is a talented story teller. For a relaxing good read, try her books.
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47 of 51 people found the following review helpful By Wanda Goolsby on December 7, 1999
Format: Paperback
A Walker Percy Award Winner, this believable down-home tale will melt over your senses like warm butter over thick grits! Letts tells the story of a young pregnant girl who is left stranded by her boyfriend in a small town at Wal-Mart. She lives in the store until the night she gives birth to her baby in the middle of the Wal-Mart floor. When the secret of her living, sleeping, eating, and having a baby in Wal-Mart gets out, Novalee Nation becomes an instant headliner! The people in the town fall in love with this seventeen-year old girl and her miracle baby. What she finds in this town full of strangers who open up their hearts to her is a place she can call home. Novalee is full of life and positive spirit. She is determined and overcomes each obstacle thrown her way by never giving up. Through losing her boyfriend, losing her baby, losing her best friend, and losing her job, Novalee still marches on. This book can be read easily in one sitting, no complex words or lengthy paragraphs, just an unpredictable plot full of wonderfully descriptive narative and infectiously endearing characters. Where the Heart Is can be read, understood, and loved by the whole family!
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28 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Caroline P. Hampton on August 2, 2000
Format: Paperback
Billie Letts has created a novel unlike I have ever read. From start to finish, this book is surprising, unexpected and very creative. She never takes the easy way out, NOR does she do what you think she's going too. Her characters are one of a kind, and unlike any you've ever read about. Sister Husband is worth the price of the book alone.
"Where The Heart Is" is a wonderful book that digs deep into your heart and tells a wonderful story. I found it very enjoyable, a nice and easy read. Certainly one for anybody looking for a good story with interesting characters. Very enjoyable!
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32 of 37 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 7, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Some of the previous reviews said that this book was"sugary" and "cheesy." Yes, I agree, it can becheesy, sugary, and all those other food-description words. But it has very good character development and I think it's a cute book. I'm fourteen and can relate to the main character, Novalee, who is seventeen (and by the end of the book twenty-five). When she is seven months pregnant she is abandoned by the father of her baby at a Wal-Mart in Oklahoma. She finds her place in a small community where she raises her daughter, Americus. Forney, Sister Husband, Moses Whitecotton, Benny Goodluck, Lexie Coop, and many others quickly become Novalee's friend. All these characters have different and colorful personalities. It's a fairly long book, but a quick read, and I recommend it to anyone aged twelve and over just for a nice, fun read. It's fast-paced and a lot happens. Also it follows Willy Jack's story as he tries to make it as a musician, and it's almost like a separate book.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 12, 1999
Format: Paperback
I opened up the book to chaper 1. and from the first sentence, I was hooked. Every word has it's own meaning if you just look. Based on the theme of "the home is where the heart is", you slowly learn to understand that no matter how old you are, what color you are or what religion you are, even a Wal-Mart could be your home. Each character has their own uniquely genuine personality. Once you pick it up, just try to put it down. Every page takes you through a maze of laughter and tears you always seem end up in the same, warm and comforting place, where your heart is, home. In my opinion, everybody and everyone can read it and enjoy. You'll find yourself smiling, laughing, or even crying. I give it 5 stars with two thumbs up. This is #1 on your must read list. "Where The Heart Is" is one of the best books I've ever read and has left some of the Best Seller authors speachless.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Deborah A. Woehr VINE VOICE on December 9, 1999
Format: Paperback
I started reading this book on Thanksgiving Day and finished it by the following Monday. The book is engaging with its eccentric characters, its lighthearted way of dealing with the pitfalls and tragedies of life, and its overall message of love and redemption. I'll be looking for more Billie Letts books in the future.
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