Where the Heart Is- By Billie Letts Highlights of the Story:Novalee Nation is seventeen, seven months pregnant, 37 pounds overweight and superstitious of the number seven.Novalee and her boyfriend, Willy Jack Pickens, were on their way to start a new life in California.Novalee has dreams of a house without wheels and a real family, both of which she has never had before.She wants to document their journey with pictures for the baby by taking a photograph as they crossed over every state line.Willy Jack is getting impatient with Novalee having to go to the bathroom all the time.
He also thinks her dreams and pictures are a silly waste of time.After she makes Willy Jack stop for another bathroom break, he abandons Novalee at a Wal-Mart in Sequoyah Oklahoma.She is stranded with only $7.77 in her pocket and her Polaroid camera.Before the shock of being dumped has had time to sink in, Novalee meets a few of the town’s “colorful” locals.She meets religious Thelma “Sister” Husband, the “Official Welcome Wagon” of Sequoya.
At first, Sister Husband mistakes Novalee for someone else.She offers her own weird brand of wisdom along with a welcome basket and an open invitation to “come out anytime.”Novalee takes Sister’s picture for her baby’s memory book.Next, Novalee meets Moses Whitecotton, a black photographer who tells her to be sure to give her baby a strong name.Novalee takes his picture as well.He will later teach her all he knows about photography.
Next, a young Native American boy named Benny Goodluck gives Novalee a buckeye tree for good luck.She takes his picture too.A youthful Benny will also play a part in Novalee’s rising photographic career.Later, Novalee will help a 17-year-old Benny get through a special “rite of passage.” She makes the best of a bad situation and “moves in” to the Wal-Mart for the next two months.
During this time, she keeps a written account of what she “owes” Wal-Mart.She leaves the store during the day and takes her buckeye tree out for sun and fresh air, but it is not enough.Her tree is dying.She is so superstitious; she thinks it would be the worst thing if her good luck tree dies.
She goes to the library to find a book that will tell her what is wrong with her tree and how to help make it well.At the library, she meets Forney Hull, who behaves strangely, but helps her find the information she needs.Their friendship grows and Forney becomes Novalee’s unseen “Guardian Angel.
”One stormy night, Novalee goes into labor in the Wal-Mart and Forney breaks a plate-glass window to save the day.He helps deliver Novalee’s baby saving both their lives.Novalee names the baby Americus because it is a strong name.At the hospital, Novalee meets Lexie Coop, a nurse with a heart of gold who becomes her friend.
Lexie has had bad luck with men and has a houseful of children that she names after snack foods. Later, Lexie’s search for the perfect man and daddy for her kids results in her son, “Brownie” being brutally raped.When Lexie tried to stop him, the rapist beat her viciously.Brummet (Brownie’s real name) called Novalee for help.Finally, Lexie stops looking on the outside and starts looking on the inside.
She finds her “perfect man” in Leon Yoder, the “pick of the litter.” He loves her AND her kids. When Novalee is still in the hospital, Sam Walton, owner of Wal-Mart, comes to visit, gives her $500.00, offers her a job, and forgives her debtNovalee’s trashy “Momma Nell” shows up in the hospital because she saw Novalee on TV and says she came to help.Novalee gives her all the money that Sam Walton and other well-wishers gave her so her mama could get them a nice place to bring the baby.The next day, Novalee and Americus waited and waited, but Momma Nell had taken the money and abandoned them both…again.Sister Husband came to the rescue and brought Novalee and Americus home with her.Soon, the neighbors were helping to baby-sit so Novalee could work.Novalee and Forney’s relationship grew into more than just a friendship.Novalee was afraid to admit her love for Forney because she didn’t think she was good.