Publication date: Apr. 2, 2013
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Category: Adult Fiction - Contemporary
Summary: Queenie Wake, a country girl from North Star, Texas, has just been fired from her job as a chef & the only place she has to go is home. She hopes things will be different. Maybe the Wake women's reputations will have been forgotten. It's been years since her notorious mother was killed. And her sister, who as a teenager was branded as a harlot after having a baby with local golden boy Wes McKay, is now the mother of the captain of the high school football team. 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 - can she risk her heart again? At least she has a new job cooking last meals for death row inmates. But when secrets from the past emerge, will Queenie be able to stick by her family or will she leave home again? (greads.com)
The goodThanks to Friday Night Lights and this year's many visits to Texas, I officially have a soft spot for books that take place in this state. Then throw in a no-nonsense heroine who always speaks her mind, the kind of small town drama that never fails to rile me up, family ties, love, drama and the tears I shed. Well suffice it to say, I thought Nowhere But Home was kind of amazing. Queenie Wake has just been fired from her latest cooking job for the tenth time and contemplating her next move when she decides to go back to her hometown, North Star, Texas. She's avoided coming back for years because as we all know (or have seen/read), small towns mean everyone knows your business and most people are quick to judge. And people have been judging the Wake women for decades. Her mom was a notorious cheat whose actions eventually got her killed, her sister got pregnant as a teenager with the high school quarterback who ditched her and Queenie? Well she's got secrets in her past that she's been running from too. Namely, Everett Coburn, her childhood best friend and love of her life that no one could know about for fear it would taint his family name. (I know this sounds like a crazy soap opera but trust me, the emotions it will evoke feel very, very real.)
Queenie coming home may have seemed like the worst possible thing that could've happened to her but it's plain to see that she needed to. Yes, I loved the feisty, outlandish side of her that would yell at someone for putting ketchup on their eggs (cause seriously folks, that's gross) but what I enjoyed most of all was watching her reconnect with her past. The love between her and her older sister. The bond between her and her nephew. Rebuilding the relationship with her best friend and the women she grew up with. Even the feelings that resurfaced when seeing Everett again. Dealing with the past, especially past mistakes or hurt or regrets, is never easy and I couldn't help but admire Queenie as she faced it. But it's also her new job that surprisingly brings her closure and a new sense of purpose too - she gets hired by the nearby prison to cook meals for death row inmates.
The whole book is just this unlikely mix of humor and darkness that could easily seem like too much but Liza Palmer makes it work and makes you feel what these characters, even the minor ones, are going through.
(Super minor) reservationsEven though ultimately I'm glad the romance didn't play a huge role in the book, it is important to Queenie and it's a part of the conclusion. Which is why I wish we had spent more time with Queenie and Everett in the present, instead of just mostly past memories.
Do I recommend?Yes! I bought this book because of all the glowing reviews it got from bloggers I trusted and I'm so glad I did.