Release Date: April 2013
Publisher: HarperCollins | William Morrow
Pages: 384 pages
Source & Format: Bought; Paperback
Amazon | Goodreads
Summary (from Goodreads)
After Queenie Wake is dismissed from her restaurant job, she returns to North Star to cook meals for death row inmates.
Hopeful that the bad memories of her late mother and promiscuous sister (now the mother of the captain of the high school football team) have been forgotten by the locals, Queenie discovers that some people can’t be forgotten—heartbreaker Everett Coburn—her old high-school sweetheart.
When secrets from the past emerge, will Queenie be able to stick by her family or will she leave home again?
Thoughts on Nowhere But Home
Let's just start with the honest to goodness truth: I LOVED THIS BOOK SO MUCH!
I read Nowhere but Home back at the beginning of June and have had this draft post just sitting there since then. I just loved this book so much that everything I write about it seems inadequate. What words can I string together to convince you that this is a book that is so deserving of your attention? This is, without a doubt, one of the best books I've read this year.
I gave it five stars on Goodreads, and I noted that it made me tear up twice because that never happens to me while I'm reading. It's almost two months later, and I still think about this book. I'm already hankering for a re-read just because I want to spend more time with these characters.
Okay, let me back up a little bit. I first spotted Nowhere but Home at Target, one of my favorite places to look for new releases and up-and-coming titles. I was immediately drawn to this cover - the image, the font, the colors, the title itself... everything about it just screamed READ ME. I didn't buy it that first day, but I ended up going back a week later because I knew I needed to own this book.
Nowhere but Home opens with Queenie Wake being fired from yet another job. She's a chef, but she can't always keep her opinions to herself. And now she has nowhere to go. No job, no money, no future prospects. What's a girl to do? She makes a last-minute to go home - a place she left the minute she graduated high school. Although her sister and nephew still reside there, she's convinced that the town holds nothing good for her.
Growing up in North Star, Texas, wasn't exactly easy for Queen Elizabeth (Queenie) and Merry Carole Wake. Everyone knows about their mother - her reputation hasn't been easy to live down. And Merry Carole having a baby out of wedlock doesn't do anything to help these girls from the wrong side of the tracks. They lived with the looks, snickers and whispers for all of their lives. That's why Queenie took off at the first opportunity and never looked back.
North Star is a small town, and that means exactly what you think it does. Everyone is in everyone else's business. You can't do anything without everyone else noticing and remarking upon it. You can't create a new future for yourself in a place where you can never escape your past. Or can you?
Here's the thing, this book felt so Southern. It's like I could feel the Texas heat rising off the page... and see all the secrets hiding in all that big hair. And the food. Good gracious, y'all! Food plays a key role in this book in a way that's so moving and touching. Why? Queenie takes a job in North Texas cooking last meals for inmates on death row. Her reflections on why they'd choose what they did and her desire to get it exactly right was so endearing. She may be a lot to handle, but she's damn good at what she does.
I mean, hello, doesn't that sentence just pack a punch? Asheley nails it, and the joy of Nowhere but Home is in watching Queenie rediscover her heart and confront her heartache.
Queenie's relationship with her sister is so authentic and genuine. You can feel the tension there. From Queenie leaving and Merry Carole staying behind. From the shadow of their mother's reputation. From the misunderstandings and hurts from their past. From the secrets they keep today. All of those strings have become knotted and have hurt their relationship. And yet they still love each other fiercely.
There are so many things that just got to me in this one. The idea that you can't escape your past. The feeling that you'll never be good enough. The experiences that alter your view of yourself and your value. All of it was just powerful and moving.
I raced through the book, but I savored it at the same time. I'd go back and re-read a paragraph just to linger with it. I have so much more I could say - so many other things that just made this book such a great read. But instead, I'll leave you with a list that will hopefully convince you to take the plunge.
10 Reasons You Need to Read This Book RIGHT NOW:
- Secondary Characters.
- Savory Eats.
- Seriously Good Drama.
- Second Chances.
- Sports (Football).
- Saying Goodbye.
- So Much Falling in Love.
Seriously, y'all, what are you waiting for? I do declare, this book was gooder than grits. It's funny, but not fluffy. It's sad, but not depressing. It's Southern, but not a stereotype. It's this perfect blend - like mixing sweet tea and lemonade - that resulted in a read I won't ever forget. So glad I found this story and took a chance on this small town!
"I can't be the only one faking it. I'm not the only lonely small-town girl drowning in this big city. I'm not the only refugee feeling invisible and alone. I'm not the only one who wants to scream, 'NOTICE ME! I MATTER!' Maybe everyone is faking it. Maybe they're just better at it than I am. People walk around me on the street as if I'm not even there. It's quite something. I left North Star because I was tired of every move I made being tracked and judged by a cabal of gossiping ladies. I oftentimes wished I could go unnoticed as I move through my life in that tiny town and now here I am. Utterly invisible. Dreams do come true, kids."