A brilliant, hilarious, and touching story with a Texas twist from Liza Palmer, author of Conversations With The Fat Girl (optioned for HBO)
Queenie Wake, a country girl from North Star, Texas, has just been fired from her job as a chef for not allowing a customer to use ketchup. Again. Now the only place she has to go is home to North Star. She can hope, maybe things will be different. Maybe her family's reputation as those Wake women will have been forgotten. It's been years since her mother-notorious for stealing your man, your car, and your rent money-was killed. And her sister, who as a teenager was branded as a gold-digging harlot after having a baby with local golden boy Wes McKay, is now the mother of the captain of the high school football team. It can't be that bad…Who knew that people in small town Texas had such long memories? And of course Queenie wishes that her memory were a little spottier when feelings for her high school love, Everett Coburn, resurface. He broke her heart and made her leave town-can she risk her heart again? At least she has a new job-sure it's cooking last meals for death row inmates but at least they don't complain! But when secrets from the past emerge, will Queenie be able to stick by her family or will she leave home again? A fun-filled, touching story of food, football, and fooling around.
Paperback, 384 pages
Published April 2nd 2013 by William Morrow Paperbacks
Four and a half stars: A delightful tale that proves sometimes you can go back home.
Queenie Wake has spent the last ten years bouncing from job to job. Never settling down anywhere, never fitting in. She is currently in New York, but her employment abruptly ends after she fights with a patron over putting ketchup on his eggs. Now she is once again out of work, with nowhere to go and no place to live. She decides it is time to go back home to Lone Star, Texas to visit her sister, despite the fact that she has spent all this time running away from her past and all her old ghosts and it is the last place she wants to be. Queenie is about to learn it is never too late to go home, and sometimes people can change. Will Queenie at last find a place to call home?
What I Liked:
- There are so many things that I loved about this book. The small town setting, the characters, the delicious descriptions of Southern food, the romance and the character growth. This is one of those sweet, fun chick lit reads that just makes you feel good. If you need a pick me up read, get this one, but don't think because it is chick lit it is all light and fluffy. There are plenty of deeper issues in this one.
- I loved Queenie's character growth. In the beginning, she is struggling to find her place. She can't hold a job for more than a few months, and she has spent ten years running from all her baggage. Once she returns home, she learns that all her old conflicts are still alive and well in her hometown. Queenie hails from a small town where everyone knows everyone. There are no secrets in this town. Unfortunately, memories are long and no one forgets Queenie's mother and her horrid reputation. Lone Star is not a pleasant place to be, as there is plenty of bad gossip and catty women, but Queenie manages to persevere and prove that she is not her mother. By the end, she has undergone a tremendous transformation. I think she will finally be secure in her own skin, since she learns that no matter how far you run you can't escape your roots or change the past. However, you can come to terms with it, and not let it dictate the rest of your life.
- One of my favorite parts of this book was seeing Queenie and her sister, Merrie Carole, finally stand up to the women who looked down their noses at them their entire lives. Standing up to Piggy Peggy and Lauren and all the rest of the women reveals that everyone has their issues, and no one has the perfect life, and picking on others is just a way to hide one's own insecurities.
- The romance in this one, even though predictable, was sweet and satisfying. The moment Queenie arrives back in town, she comes face to face with her childhood sweetheart, the very man she has been running away from all these years. What follows is a delicate dance of longing and regret, until it ultimately culminates into everything you expect. Part of the fun is wondering at each encounter if this will be that moment.
- I absolutely loved the Texas setting and learning all things about the South. I am a Western girl, and sadly I have never been to the South. I adore books that feature Southern cuisine and all things pertinent to the Southern lifestyle. The food descriptions will make your mouth water! If you love hearty Southern food, and storytelling, grab this one.
- Finally, even though this book may sound like a typical chick lit, it actually has depth and substance. The town has plenty of secrets which come bursting forth, and I liked how everything worked out. At the heart of the story, is an intriguing little story line that really made me stop and think. Queenie ends up taking a job at the prison cooking last meals for inmates who are being executed. This storyline really got me thinking about the whole death penalty and questioning its validity. It is a thought provoking topic for sure. I think you will have a different perspective on the death penalty after reading this one.
And The Not So Much:
- As I mentioned, the romance in this one is very predictable. You know from the first introduction that there is only way it is going to end. I didn't mind that it was predictable because it is sweet and satisfying.
- I wish that there was an Epilogue at the end so I could see how everything turned out for Queenie. She is just beginning to realize her dreams and start her future when the book ends. After all the struggle, I wanted to relish a bit more of the sweet spoils.
- Queenie briefly dates a professor and he is an interesting to character. I felt like that he was hiding something and I was disappointed that I didn't get to find out what his true agenda really was.
- This is a small observation, I don't get the cover. It does not reflect the story and it just doesn't fit at all in my opinion.
Nowhere But Home ended up being the perfect pick me up read. This is a great book to cleanse your palate after reading something dark and gritty. It has a sweet romance, great Southern flavors, and wonderful character growth. This is a book that reminds you that your roots are permanent but they don't have to dictate who you can become and how far you can go. If you enjoy a good chick lit book with a bit of substance, I would very much recommend this book.
"I realize that New York has taught me one thing: hatred is not the opposite of love---indifference is. Being forgettable is way worse."
"She wouldn't dream of going to the mailbox without her face on. I have visions of her house catching on fire and she takes a quick second to check her face in the mirror before fleeing."
"At eleven, we learned we could be who we really were only in the murky edges of North Star, but out in the light we had to be strangers."
"It's one thing to run from ghosts, it's quite another to let them catch you."
"I've lived my life based on what "they' think. Who are they? they don't love me. They don't know me. And they sure as shit don't care about what happens to me. Yet every decision involves thinking about what the judgmental and anonymous "they" would think."
"It's a simple equation really: the amount of money you have corresponds directly to the recognition of your family's....shall we say, eccentricities."
"You scratch the surface of any family and you're going to find dirt."
"Angry. Sad. Angry is just sad's bodyguard."
"What happens if I finally see my mother for who she was? A woman so incapable of love that her entire life was about what she wanted, how she'd been wronged, and how the world owed her. Merry Carole and I were just two rusty nails her dress got snagged on as she searched for her real life."
I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and I was not compensated for this review.