I saw the movie adaptation of this book before I knew it was a book. When I learned it was a book, I knew I would have to read it, and so I did. It is now one of my favorite books, and one of the top two that I've read so far this year.
The gist of the story is this: a pregnant teenager, Novalee, is traveling across the country with her boy-friend. They make a pit-stop at a Walmart along the way. She goes in to use the restroom; he leaves her there and continues to California. She manages to live in the Walmart for the rest of her pregnancy: through her days she visits the library; at night she retires in the Walmart. The baby comes, the librarian delivers it, and Novalee wakes up in a hospital. Walmart offers her a job for the publicity she provided the company. She still has no where to go, but the Welcome lady takes her into her home.
That's what happens. This is what it means: home is where your history begins. Home is where the heart is. Friends are a type of family. Dreams do come true, but you have to earn them. Everything you do and say can take your life in a different direction than had you not done or said it. Make sure you know what your heart is telling you.
I think Novalee is one of the strongest characters I've ever read about. She came from a broken family, a product of her environment, followed her mother's footsteps and became pregnant, but somewhere along the way she learned that life is good, challenges can be blessings and it's okay to love even if the other person has a completely different history. She has the child, keeps a steady job, pulls her weight in living with the lady who takes her in, she does everything she possibly can for the betterment of her little girl's life all the while finding time to become a talented photographer. That's called scaling impossible walls.
I think one of the best parts of the story is when she gets married to the man she loves. He's the one who loves her and her child more than anything in the world and wants only the best for them. In marrying him she is putting an end to the vicious cycle she fell victim to because she is putting a father-figure in her daughter's life and demonstrating healthy parenting. That is the best gift she could give her daughter if you ask me: a healthy, loving family. By the way, that's exactly where the heart is.