Of the “teen fiction” books I’ve read this year, Where The Heart Is by far is the most relatable and realistic of the genre. It tells the story of Novalee Nation, a pregnant teen who is abanonded by her boyfriend in Oklahoma as they make a cross country roadtrip. She lives in the local Walmart and after giving birth, Novalee is determined to give her daughter, Americus, a decent life. She works at the Walmart and devotes herself to being a mother and a photographer, all the while making new friends and falling in love. Her life isn’t without struggle, though. Americus is kidnapped and Novalee’s best friend’s son is brutally sexually assaulted by his mother’s boyfriend; Novalee finds the strength to make it through the rough times, and she is a source of spiritual guidance to her friends as well as her daughter. I really like the fact that Novalee can stand on her own two feet without depending upon a man for fulfillment. She does fall in love, but her relationship doesn’t make her weak the way romance does for some teen fiction heroines. She’s a role model for anyone (teenager or not) who’s ever faced trying times, and I hated to see her story end.
5 out of 5 stars