So the book of the month was Where the heart is by Billie Letts, which had a movie starring Natalie Portman of the same name. It was published for the first time in 1995 and deals with a bunch of heavy subjects. Here's a basic summary of what the story is about.
Novalee Nation is a seventeen year old, very pregnant girl when the story begins. She's superstitious and spent her whole life growing up in trailers (she's never lived in anything without wheels). When the story begins, she and the father of her baby, Willie Jack, are on their way to California from Tennessee to have the baby and build a life. But Willie Jack has other plans.
He abandons Novalee at a Walmart store in a small town in Oklahoma. She goes inside to go to the bathroom (perks of pregnancy; almost always overflowingly full bladders) and to buy herself some new shoes (hers fell out of the car, because there was a gaping hole beneath her feet). But when she comes back out, Willie Jack has left her there.
She meets a bunch of quirky people, each of whom have an impact on her and give her something, including a lot to think about. Her mom left her when she was seven, and the only other person she had in her life was her low life boyfriend, Willie Jack. So Novalee truly has nowhere else to go. She starts living in the Walmart store, but she keeps count of everything she 'borrows' from the store.
Willie Jack goes on some way before he runs out of gas and is ultimately arrested for theft.
One of the gifts Novalee received on her first day was a buckeye tree for good luck. While she lives in the store, the tree starts to get sick and she goes to the library to read up about saving it. There she meets Forney Hull, a brilliant (but somewhat crazy) man. His sister's the Librarian, but is an alcoholic, and he tends the library in her behalf. Novalee ends up planting the tree with Sister Husband, one of the first people she met in the small town.
Novalee and Forney become friends and he arranges a birthday party for her in the library. He gives her a book as a gift and has a dinner prepared for the two of them. This is also when Novalee meets his alcoholic sister for the first time, after she'd fallen while drunk.
Some weeks after that, Novalee goes into labour in the Walmart one night. Forney breaks a window and helps her give birth to a little girl. She names her little girl Americus and ended up in hospital. But after her baby's birth, both Novalee and Americus are celebrities, calling her the 'Walmart baby'.
In the hospital, Novalee becomes friends with one of the nurses, Lexi, a mother of four (who each have their own father). At this stage, Novalee's mother hears all the hype about the Walmart baby, and comes to 'help' Novalee, but is really just after the money that comes with her fame. Her mother takes the money and disappears.
Novalee goes to live with Sister Husband, who becomes a mother figure to her. Forney falls in love with her and comes to visit her every night. She starts to work at the Walmart after some time and things are finally looking up for Novalee, while Willie Jack's having a hard time of it in prison.
A lot of things happen, which I won't go into here, for those of you who still have to read the book. But I will say Novalee has a profound impact on the lives of the people around her, as do they on her life. She falls in love with Forney as well, though she never admits it and even lies about it. She starts to make a success of her life, turning it around from what it had been. Eventually, Sister Husband dies in a tornado and Novalee inherits her house. Willie Jack loses his legs in an accident after leaving prison and Novalee takes him in.
As Novalee is taking Willie Jack back to Tennessee, she calls Forney and finally tells him she loves him too. And that's where the story ends.
This is a story that gives you heart for those people living in less privileged circumstances than we do. It tackles a bunch of issues people don't necessarily want to talk about, like teenage pregnancy, alcohol abuse and poverty. Billie Letts writes this with compassion and without judging people in those circumstances.
The language there is in the book is suited to the characters and where they come from in life. But some readers probably won't like it. The sexual themes and scenes that are present aren't too descriptive and a lot of things are just suggested. Sensitive readers may not like to read these things.
Overall, the book is pretty good. It starts out really sad and you feel for Novalee from the very start. She's been dealt a tough hand and it doesn't seem like she can survive it. But in the end, she comes out on top. Everything starts to go better for her and she makes things better for others too. What starts out as sad and negative turns into positivity and hope. No matter what happens, Novalee becomes stronger.
I'll announce the new book of the month on Monday. :)
I hope you liked this review! Enjoy your weekend, stay beautiful and be kind to animals,