This Must Be the Place
(Henry Holt & Co., July 2010)
Indie Next List Notables for August
The Darby-Jones boardinghouse in Ruby Falls, New York, is home to Mona Jones and her daughter, Oneida, two loners and self-declared outcasts who have formed a perfectly insular family unit: the two of them and the three eclectic boarders living in their house. But their small, quiet life is upended when Arthur Rook shows up in the middle of a nervous breakdown, devastated by the death of his wife, carrying a pink shoe box containing all his wife’s mementos and keepsakes, and holding a postcard from sixteen years ago, addressed to Mona but never sent. Slowly the contents of the box begin to fit together to tell a story—one of a powerful friendship, a lost love, and a secret that, if revealed, could change everything that Mona, Oneida, and Arthur know to be true. Or maybe the stories the box tells and the truths it brings to life will teach everyone about love—how deeply it runs, how strong it makes us, and how even when all seems lost, how tightly it brings us together. With emotional accuracy and great energy, This Must Be the Place introduces memorable, charming characters that refuse to be forgotten.
“Kate Racculia taps into the art and ideas of [Joseph] Cornell for inspiration and populates her charming, imaginative novel with found objects that speak to her characters’ past lives and ultimately their long-held secrets…[This Must Be the Place] makes for a lively read as it explores the themes of friendship, love, loss and forgiveness. Like Cornell, the author creates subtle moments of poetry by way of everyday objects and lives.”
–Los Angeles Times
“This often witty debut, with its cast of appealing characters, is a smart exploration of love, friendship, and the secrets we keep, even from ourselves.”
“This enchanting debut is part romance, part mystery—with a touch of coming-of-age tale thrown in…All three [characters] are confronted with larger issues of love and duty and learn that the essential question is not “How did I get here?” but “Where am I going?” Racculia’s whimsical details and flawed yet immensely likable characters make Place a magical journey.”
–People Magazine (Four Stars)
“Accomplished and compelling debut novel…It takes Racculia just a few vivid setup chapters to sweep us into the thoughts and feelings of her appealing principal characters: smart, prickly Oneida; sexy, funny Eugene, who’s more vulnerable than he seems; nurturing Mona, still in Amy’s shadow…and grieving Arthur, who needs to understand that his wife’s past was darker than he realized….The author brilliantly captures teenage angst and uncertainty as she conveys some very grown-up truths about the choices we make and the prices we—and others—pay for them. Intelligent, warm-hearted and tough-minded—Racculia is a talent to watch. ”
–Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)
“Racculia’s irresistibly charming debut is an artful mix of genres: oddball domestic (set in a boardinghouse, characters names Desdemona and Oneida). coming-of-age (high school loves and teen angst) and literary women’s fiction (love, loss, and friendship)…With its happy ending and rich trove of Gen-X references and humor, this is a thoroughly enjoyable first novel, both accessibly absurd and quite touching.”
“Never has it been more aptly presented than in this engaging novel that love can take us all on unexpected journeys–often when we least expect it. Here is a story that is part mystery, part meditation, part romance, part imperative. It is presented from different points of view: cake-baking Mona, mistress of a boarding house, for whom a long-ago act of love for a friend leads to a complicated romance. Mona’s teenage daughter, Oneida, whose tentative forays into love bring her far more than she anticipated. And Arthur, a man widowed too soon, on a path that will lead him to understand who his young wife really was. Kate Racculia has a strong and original voice, and a lot to say about the chances we take–or miss.
–Elizabeth Berg, author of The Last Time I Saw You