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Where the Heart Is [Large Print] [Hardcover]

Billie Letts
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,204 customer reviews)

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Book Description

November 1995 G K Hall Large Print Book Series
Talk about unlucky sevens. An hour ago, seventeen-year-old, seven months pregnant Novalee Nation was heading for California with her boyfriend. Now she finds herself stranded at a Wal-Mart in Sequoyah, Oklahoma, with just $7.77 in change. But Novalee is about to discover hidden treasures in this small Southwest town--a group of down-to-earth, deeply caring people willing to help a homeless, jobless girl living secretly in a Wal-Mart. From Bible-thumping blue-haired Sister Thelma Husband to eccentric librarian Forney Hull who loves Novalee more than she loves herself, they are about to take her--and you, too--on a moving, funny, and unforgettable journey to . . . Where the Heart Is.
--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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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 the Mass Market Paperback edition.

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First Sentence
NOVALEE NATION, seventeen, seven months pregnant, thirty-seven pounds overweight-and superstitious about sevens-shifted uncomfortably in the seat of the old Ply-mouth and ran her hands down the curve of her belly. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My heart was with this book! May 26 2004
In Billie Letts' novel "Where the Heart Is," she creates a loving and heartwarming story about a young woman trying to establish herself as a positive role model for her daughter and keep up with the fast paced changes life throws in her direction. The novel follows Novalee Nation, a young woman of 17 who gives birth to a baby girl in the most unlikely place: a Wal-Mart store. Knowing no one in the small town of Sequoyah, Oklahoma where she was abandoned by her boyfriend, she is forced to find friends and support from a whole host of characters. There's Sister Thelma Husband, who opens her home to Novalee and helps raise her daughter Americus. Forney, the librarian, who teaches Novalee some of the most important lessons about love and friendship. Lexie, the nurse who befriended Novalee in the hospital after Americus was born, who taught her important lessons about family, and that life can change in a single moment and not to take anything for granted. All of the characters are so well developed and they add something unique to the story that makes it such a great read.
Billie Letts does an excellent job of placing the reader in Sequoyah, mostly because she has lived there before and knows the ways to make a reader feel as though they are experiencing the dry heat of Oklahoma and the tornado that whips through the town, leaving a huge impact on the life of Novalee. It was a very easy read, not a lot of overwhelming detail. Just enough to evoke an image in your mind of the characters and the setting, and to get a solid understanding of the feelings and emotions of the characters.
I really loved the bond between Novalee and Americus, and how the emphasis on family was so important.
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A girl who finds herself pregnant and abandoned in a Wal-Mart, in the novel Where The Heart Is. At the age of seventeen, Novalee is left to survive on her own with just $7.77 when her boyfriend, Willy Jack Pickens, abandons her at a Wal-Mart in the small town of Sequoyah, Oklahoma. Throughout Novalee's stay at the Wal-Mart Letts develops a variety of unique and considerate people with whom Novalee has encounters. Letts shows how Novalee learns many lessons from all of the people who she meets, and that learning is a life-long journey.

Letts introduces Novalee to many people who have a significant impact on her life, from the Bible pushing Sister Thelma Husband to the elderly photographer Moses Whitecotton. Where The Heart Is allows teenagers to see how life can be if they do not make the right decisions. Letts created a situation and confronts problems to which most teenagers can relate in this novel. Such as the awkward , and most times uncomfortable topic as the consequences of sex. Through Letts' realistic style of writing the reader feels as if they are taking each step that Novalee takes right beside her. Letts develops a plot that moves along at a perfect pace. The plot development is not so fast that you can not comprehend what is going on, but it always leaves you on the edge of your seat wanting to know what will happen next. In addition, Letts always has other characters in the novel facing problems which help to keep the reader interested. At the end of the novel I had only two negative criticisms. The first was that I found it unrealistic that Novalee could have lived in a Wal-Mart without ever being caught.

The other was that I was not necessarily interested in the life of Willy Jack Pickens, after he abandoned Novalee.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Book For All Ages May 4 2004
In this story Novalee Nation discovers what it is like to have a real and loving family. The book starts of with Novalee being left at Wal-Mart by her out-to-get-rich-quick boyfriend. While trying to figure out what to do Novalee runs into a woman who calls herself Sister Husband. After being let down by her own greed mother, Novalee decides to take Sister up on her offer of welcome. From then on Novalee experiences even more of what she was always missing in life. To raising her daughter, helping others, and discovering her love to take pictures Billie Letts' character Novalee and all the others will take you for one of the greatest adventures of your life. I recommend this book for people of all ages. You will laugh and cry all the way through the entire book. Mrs. Letts has done a remarkable job of writing this book. This book was also chosen for Oprah's Book Club. After reading this book I am very sure you will agree with me that it is one of a kind. Since this book is more modern than any of Shakespeare's works you will not have to learn a totally different language to comprehend it. This book is much easier to read than anything Shakespeare could come up with. All will easily understand the themes and social issues involved. Themes of loneliness, trying to fit in, and looking for a place to call home are all themes we can relate to. Many of the social issues we deal with daily are in this book. Like for example teen pregnancy, drugs, alcohol, sex, and many more we see around us daily.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars loved it
arrived on time and was a great book!
Published 2 months ago by Amanda
3.0 out of 5 stars Neat premise, good start but a bit of disappointment...
This is my first book by this author. I picked this book because I had seen a few clips of the movie that was made from it and because it was listed on the Oprah's Book Club. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Pat the cat
5.0 out of 5 stars I don't like fiction but this is my absolute favorite
I normally start fictional books and just stop...Book of Negros, The Kite Runner, Water for Elephants. This book was different. Read more
Published on Aug. 31 2012 by scarlet
5.0 out of 5 stars Easy read
If you are looking for something entertaining, this is it. The book takes you on a journey with characters you want to meet. Read more
Published on June 8 2010 by Ltype
4.0 out of 5 stars Pretty good
Very easy read. It is a one day type of book. Very inspiring story, full of good humor and reality. The characters seem real, and gives you hope that the world is not all that bad. Read more
Published on Nov. 14 2009 by S. El-Hilo
5.0 out of 5 stars Heartwarming
I read this quite some time ago, a few years before it became an Oprah book. I found it charming and sweet then, and have enjoyed re-reading it several times over the years. Read more
Published on Aug. 2 2008 by J. Macgillivray
4.0 out of 5 stars fun
I read this book a couple of years ago, maybe three, but it was a good, fun read. it's very different from what i'm usually into, but letts is a great writer and hauls you right... Read more
Published on Jan. 18 2008 by T. Bigney
4.0 out of 5 stars It's a keeper
I read this book while expecting my second child...perhaps that is why it touched me so deeply. I felt a connection as I read. Read more
Published on March 21 2007 by kebmo
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book
This is a wonderful novel that will make you feel good after reading it. The characters are very likable and the overall tone is tender and warm. Read more
Published on June 12 2006 by Brown Sugar
5.0 out of 5 stars Heartwarming, enthralling, tear jerker
Who'd have thought this book could turn out a happy story!? It is about a pregnant, penniless 17 yr. old orphan, abandoned by her ne're do well boyfriend at a Walmart. Read more
Published on June 26 2004 by M. Alther
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