Nowhere but Here
by Renée Carlino
Reviewed by Taylor Beach, Editor-in-Chief
There are a few books that somehow—maybe through fate’s design—appear in your hand at a book store upon purchase and remain in your heart for a whole lifetime. Renée Carlino’s contemporary romance novel Nowhere but Here is one of the most inspiring novels I have ever read.
This novel has romance, self-discovery, hope, major life decisions, a shocking twist, and ultimately shows how life desperately seeks to find true happiness, and when it does, it flips everything you’ve ever known on its head. Carlino’s beautiful prose succeeded at pulling on my heartstrings. Her wonderfully developed suspenseful plot compelled me to cry, scream, laugh…it basically brought out the overly emotional crazy person resting somewhere deep inside of me—you know—the way the best kind of books do. Above all, I love the novel Nowhere but Here because of Kate Corbin, Renée Carlino’s main character, for helping me find my spark again.
Kate Corbin lost every ounce of family she had left the day the mother who raised her died. Besides her coworkers, a boyfriend who could care less about her, and Just Bob, a pastor who preaches on the CTA train system in downtown Chicago, Kate finds herself completely and utterly alone. She is stuck in a rut—lost, with no way of finding her way out.
Being in this perpetual state of numbness represses the brilliant reporter trapped somewhere inside her, longing for the day she will finally be released into the world to shine. She feels as though everyone has given up on her and what’s more terrifying than that is the fact that she is slowly giving up on herself. So when her boss and mentor presents her with an opportunity to actually report a newsworthy article—something more substantial than lipstick and wine—Kate jumps at the chance.
She travels to Southern California to uncover why R. J. Lawson, the owner of a well-respected winery in Napa Valley, disappeared years ago and why he has chosen now to return. This book is not only beautifully written but one of the main focuses is wine and how Jamie, a handsome vineyard hand helps make R. J. Lawson’s wine so deliciously ripe. For wine lovers and romantics out there, this book is definitely for you.
For me, putting aside the fact that I am a wine lover and also a hopeless romantic, this book meant so much more. Like Kate, I questioned what I wanted out of my life, out of love, and most importantly, myself.
People wonder if I am delusional for thinking that a main character can change my life. I am not delusional at all. I adore the main character in Nowhere but Here because there is a little piece of Renée Carlino—a very tangible and wonderful person who touched my soul with her words—inside Kate Corbin. I cannot speak directly to Renée Carlino, however, through the creation of Kate Corbin I see Renée Carlino and I hear her.
I heard her voice as I flew eight thousand miles across the Atlantic Ocean to study abroad in Italy for three months. I carried her words through the streets of Rome as I drank a cappuccino (or three) and had a few glasses of wine at the Wine Bar down the block from St. Peter’s Basilica. I even carried the book in the pouring rain as I climbed a mountain in Subiaco, Italy.
The pages of Nowhere but Here are crinkled, the front cover has completely fallen off, individual pages are bent at all angles, and some pages have stuck together due to water damage. It’s been through a lot; it’s been through life.
The book traveled with me everywhere I went as a symbol of how topsy-turvy I allowed my life, my mind, and my heart to become. On the inside, both in the book and within me nonetheless, is a beautifully crafted story waiting to be told.
I still remember Renée Carlino’s words: “Leave your life. Leave everyone you love, every care, every stress,
every commitment. Live alone. Understand what it feels like to know that if you go into cardiac arrest, choke on a piece of hot dog, or get electrocuted, no one will find you. You’ll rot. No one will mourn you. You’ll wither and vanish…Imagine that, live it, and let yourself believe that you should be alone, and then go back to the people who love you.” These words gave me the hope to keep going; to keep finding myself and my way back to the ones I love no matter how terrifying it could be.
Her words were a reminder that helped me see how journeying across Europe—something I never thought I would do in a million years—was worth it. By getting lost in an unfamiliar territory, with all the people I’ve met in my endeavors who hold special places in my heart, I am sure that I have finally found the woman I was meant to be. I found my way back and learned to never take the ones I love for granted because all along they are the ones who saw my spark when I couldn’t.
I found my own voice, the writer in me…and Kate? Well, you’ll have to find out what she found.
Renée Carlino currently lives in Southern California with her husband, two sons, and their dog, June. She’s a beach lover and loves spending time with her kids playing on the beach. In the meantime she works on her next book, reads all the time and enjoys going to concert.
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Renée Carlino is the author of Sweet Thing and Sweet Little Thing, another two of her novels that took me on an emotional rollercoaster.
She has written Before We Were Strangers and After the Rain.
Be on the much anticipated look out for her new novel Swear on This Life on August 9, 2016!! I’m so excited.