Nowhere but Home: A Novel

Nowhere but Home: A Novel

4.3 39
by Liza Palmer

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The strategy on the gridiron of Friday Night Lights is nothing compared to the savagery of coming home . . .

Queenie Wake 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 North Star, Texas, the hometown she left in disgrace. Maybe things will be different this time around

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The strategy on the gridiron of Friday Night Lights is nothing compared to the savagery of coming home . . .

Queenie Wake 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 North Star, Texas, the hometown she left in disgrace. Maybe things will be different this time around. After all, her mother—notorious for stealing your man, your car, and your rent money—has been dead for years. And Queenie's sister, once the local teenage harlot who fooled around with the town golden boy, is now the mother of the high school football captain.

Queenie's new job, cooking last meals at the nearby prison, is going well . . . at least the inmates don't complain! But apparently small-town Texas has a long memory for bad reputations. And when Queenie bumps into Everett Coburn, the high school sweetheart who broke her heart, she wishes her own memory was a little spottier. But before Queenie takes another chance on love, she'll have to take an even bigger risk: finding a place to call home once and for all.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
The latest winner from the bestselling author of Conversations with the Fat Girl centers around Queenie Wake, a talented but ornery cook who returns after 10 peripatetic years to her small Texas hometown of North Star to reckon with an unpleasant past. Queenie and her older sister Merry Carole still have trouble shedding the town-pariah status given to them by their promiscuous mother, long before she was murdered by her vengeful best friend. The town’s mean girls are now mean women, and catty showdowns are a guilty pleasure to read. Queenie still has feelings for Everett Coburn, who as a boy had been forbidden to see her. As she tries to ignore him, she takes a job at the prison that houses her mother’s killer, making last meals for the condemned and meeting Hudson Bishop, a handsome professor who helps get her mind off of Everett, though she finds his academic interest in capital punishment infuriating. Palmer deftly conveys how parents’ hang-ups can easily be passed on, or, in some cases, nullified by the next generation. For the most part, the author has a light touch with some very heavy subjects, and though the book’s conclusion seems more forced than destined, the story makes for an intriguing, moving read. Agent: Christy Fletcher, Fletcher and Co. (Apr.)
New York Journal of Books
“Nowhere But Home is a nice, warm snack.”
“Palmer deftly covers the complicated ground of family and hometown loyalty in this funny, poignant novel.”
Kirkus Reviews
A heart-wrenching tale told with true wisdom and a brilliant wit that morphs into a heartwarming and inspiring experience. The book opens with Queenie Wake getting fired from her job as a chef at a Manhattan hotel restaurant. She has been through similar failures in cities across the country from Los Angeles to New York, always on the run, but this time she decides to head back home to North Star, Texas. Growing up in North Star, Queenie and her older, loving sister were doomed to inherit the disdain of the community due to a mother known as the town harlot and a completely absent father. Their mother was killed when Queenie was 16, and she still harbors mixed feelings about the neglectful mother's untimely death. She returns home to cheer when her sister's son debuts as the star quarterback on the high school football team, but she is not really certain she will stay. Once there, she reconnects with the love of her life, whose marriage to a socially more suitable woman, selected for him by his upper-class parents, is the reason Queenie left North Star in the first place. On the career front, she gets a job cooking last meals for death row inmates at the local prison. This job will lead her into one of the most moving and inspiring scenes any writer could possibly imagine and thence to the happiness that she craves and deserves. Along the way, Queenie will witness, and sometimes influence, positive changes in the lives of other residents of North Star. Palmer (More Like Her, 2012, etc.) demonstrates a remarkable grasp of human psychology. Her running interior monologue is so funny and real that the reader quickly relates to Queenie. The dialogue is equally real, and each character comes alive with his or her own distinct voice. The excellent use of language and metaphor makes several long back stories feel short, and the author handles the complex connections with superb skill. An uplifting reading experience.
Library Journal
Queen Elizabeth Wake is a chef on the run from her painful past growing up in North Star, a tiny town in east Texas. She's worked all over the United States and has just been fired from her latest job at a hotel restaurant in New York City. Now Queenie must return to North Star to live with her older sister Merry Carole. The Wake sisters had it tough growing up because of their mother, Brandi-Jacques Wake. BJ was famous for two things, her cooking and her habit of dating other women's husbands, the latter resulting in BJ's murder by her best friend. Queenie takes a job at the local prison cooking last meals for prisoners on death row. Her work leads Queenie to exorcise the ghosts of her past and get closure from her mother's murderer. VERDICT Palmer (More Like Her) uses details about cooking and high school football to create a vivid picture of small-town Texas. The characters are fully realized and the setting authentic. This appetizing, colorful tale of a young woman finding herself and finding love again will please readers who enjoy smart chick lit.—Kristen Stewart, Pearland Lib., Brazoria Cty. Lib. System, TX

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Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
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Product dimensions:
5.20(w) x 7.80(h) x 1.10(d)

Meet the Author

Liza Palmer is the internationally bestselling author of Conversations with the Fat Girl, Seeing Me Naked, A Field Guide to Burying Your Parents, More Like Her, and Nowhere but Home. An Emmy-nominated writer, she lives in Los Angeles, and is hard at work on her next novel and several film and television projects.

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