“A place is just that, a pace. But a home is where your heart is.”
A couple months ago, I requested Home is Where You Are on NetGalley, having been intrigued by the synopsis. I was rejected (which happens frequently with small blogs like mine), but I was undeterred. I patiently waited for the book to come out, and since then, I have read it three times. It’s one of my “go-to” books, the ones I read when I’m feeling down or depressed and need a little pick-me-up. It’s a sweet story about overcoming adversity and loss, and the healing that can happen when you finally let someone back in.
Dean is a homeless boy who has been hardened by the loss of his family and several years on the streets after escaping an abusive foster home. He refuses to let anyone in, due to the fear of losing them and feeling that pain. Anna is a straight-A student headed for the Ivy League. Her family fell apart after the death of her father, and while her mother threw herself into her work, Anna devoted all her time to her studies in the hopes of fulfilling her father’s dream of her attending an Ivy League school. She has a few friends, including the wild Kate and friendly couple at the soup kitchen, Stan and Barney. Her world changes when she runs into Dean, not once but twice, one day. Slowly, they begin breaking down each other’s walls, and rebuilding their lives.
I like that the story started off with Dean’s POV. His voice is stronger than Anna’s, thanks to the level of maturity he was forced into while living on the streets. He also has a more unique story than Anna, though in her defense, it’s pretty hard to beat homeless. In a way, I feel like this was more Dean’s story than it was Anna’s. However, they’re love story was adorable, and I don’t want to diminish Anna’s story in any way. I really admired his strength. Though he often felt like giving up, he never did. Despite being homeless, he was very clean, and didn’t turn to drugs to mask the pain. He worked hard, with the hope of one day improving his life. Despite his lack of a formal education, he is never portrayed as being dumber than straight-A Anna. And once he formed the relationship with Anna, he had very realistic worries, especially when it came to their very different futures and his inability to provide for her.
Their initial meeting and following run-ins were not the cliched love-at-first-sight deal. When Anna first runs into him (literally) she is terrified. He had just been in a fight, and had a busted lip and black eye. While I don’t like to admit it, I would have had the same reaction. Running into a tough-looking guy on the street would have had me running to the nearest public place. Their second meeting doesn’t go much better. He passes her off as a stuck-up rich girl, giving her the nickname “preppy”, and she writes him off as a homeless thug. However, once they get pass their initial judgment of each other, the chemistry is clear. His sarcasm pairs perfectly with her naivety, and they are both extremely intelligent. He never judges her when she makes a comment complaining about something like a cold shower or forgetting breakfast. He understands that not everyone is in his situation, and he even tells her its okay to complain about something like that, because it means she’s not taking the things she has for granted. They’re an adorable couple (the leaf-raking scene was SO CUTE), and exactly what each other needed.
One of the main themes of the story is judging other people. There is a lot of judgement based off of first impressions, stereotyping, and these are the things that initially get in the way of the relationship. There is a moment when Anna’s friend Kate finds out that Dean is homeless, and immediately berates Anna, telling her she’s being stupid. Anna makes the comparison between Dean and Kate’s past boyfriends, and it’s quite startling. By society’ standards, Kate’s boyfriends are better. They’re good-looking, rich, and are headed off to college. Beneath the surface though, they have empty hearts, and only used Kate for sex, without actually caring about her. They have everything handed to them. In contrast, Dean is a hard-worker who really cares for Anna, and doesn’t let his situation define him. This story does a good job of looking past stereotypes.
I really, really loved this book. It earns a 5/5 from me. It’s a story about letting walls down, and finally letting someone have a piece of your heart. It made me tear up, laugh, and smile, so in my book, it’s a perfect addition to any bookshelf. The link to its Amazon page is here, and the Kindle edition is only $2.99, so really what could your excuse possibly be?
The cover get’s a 2/5 from me. It’s quite cliche, and a bit too-cutesy for my taste, and the coloring of the words on it don’t fit (too much brown), but hey, don’t judge a book by it’s cover, right?