Thursday, July 18, 2013

Retrace - A Review of Nowhere But Home by Liza Palmer

Nowhere but Home by Liza Palmer

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Goodreads Blurb
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.

"Hatred is not the opposite of love - indifference is." 

Queenie Wake has always felt like an invisible outsider no matter where she's lived.  And she's lived many places.  After being fired from her latest position as chef, Queenie is scraping rock bottom emotionally and financially.  Queenie has nowhere else to go than to return to the small Texas town where she grew up.  Her sister is still there and has always been Queenie's touchstone, but not even Merry Carole's hair is big enough to help Queenie face the demons she left behind in North Star, Texas.  

Against the advice of everyone she knows, Queenie accepts a job making last meals for a prison and she really finds peace in it.  Morning jogs with her teenage nephew gives Queenie some focus, and the professor, Hudson Bishop, keeps Queenie occupied and her thoughts away from Everett.

Everett Coburn, the Golden Boy of North Star, was Queenie's best friend, first love, and greatest heartbreak.  Though she knew Everett loved her deeply, he still married someone else.  Learning that he is now divorced does nothing to help Queenie's mental state.

Struggling to escape the stigma of being B. J. Wake's daughters, and facing a town that treats them like the whore their mother was causes Queenie and Merry Carole to live life in fear of how the town people will react.  Her return to North Star brings out the gossips, but also causes Queenie to find that she carries her own prejudices about others and herself.  She quickly learns what she's been trying to get everyone else to believe, that things aren't always as they seem.

This is a excellent story about prejudice, forgiveness, and learning when to let go... and when to hold on for dear life.

This song, Retrace by Anberlin, just shouted at me several days after I finished reading Nowhere but Home. Here are some of the reasons why:

Oh how I've tried to get you out of my head

And I lied, the broken words I said
Never thought I'd walk on this street again
Standing where it all began

And I tried to forget
When I left this town
But it takes me right back
When I come back around

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