Nowhere Like Home
reviewed by Pam Guynn
Difficult pasts and unhealthy friendships are featured in Sara Shepard’s Nowhere Like Home. This psychological drama and crime novel features several women and is presented from the perspective of four of them.
Lenna Schmidt is the main character. She is surprised when she gets a call from an old friend, Rhiannon Cook. Rhiannon had disappeared a few years ago and now has a son. After meeting her, Lenna learns she is living in rural Arizona with a group of women and children in a community called Halcyon Farm. They’re mostly off-the-grid and Lenna is invited to visit.
Lenna’s five-month-old son Jacob cries constantly and her husband Daniel doesn’t seem to help. Maybe getting away for a few days and repairing her friendship with Rhiannon is what she needs. Upon arrival, Lenna learns that the community has rules about outside phone calls and asking questions about the women’s pasts. Additionally, the gate is padlocked and only the leader knows the codes.
Lenna believes in omens, is unsure of herself, craves feeling needed, experiences anxiety, hates being out of control, and feels uncomfortable initiating conversations. Rhiannon desires a community of some sort, not a romantic partner. She can also be manipulative and has secrets, but so does Lenna. The other characters are also well developed. It was great to see Lenna mature and grow more dynamic as the story progresses. Through the perspectives of Lenna and Rhiannon, as well as two other women, Gillian and Sarah, readers see how each views the others and their relationships. This added depth and complexity to the characters.
The story imbues in the reader a feeling of deep anxiety for Lenna as she tries to make sense of the circumstances she finds herself in. However, I kept wanting her to be stronger and take control of her life. The book has a deeply involved plot and good character development along with a remote desert setting. However, the writing style used is not my favorite. There are continual flashbacks to two years ago and this adversely affected the pacing. Additionally, while most items are successfully concluded, there is one thing that was not fully resolved. I wanted full closure on that item. Themes include friendship, family, relationships, social anxiety, lies, secrets, support, and much more.
Overall, this is thought-provoking with complex characters and plenty of angst and suspense along with a couple of action scenes. It kept me guessing what would happen next throughout the novel. The book has a great premise and has some unusual twists.
PENGUIN GROUP Dutton and Sara Shepard provided a complimentary digital ARC of this novel via NetGalley. All opinions expressed in this review are my own. Publication date is currently set for February 20, 2023.
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