Kirkus Review

June 14, 2017

Thanks to Kirkus Review for the lovely review of This Must Be the Place!

A young woman’s cross-country drive home takes a three-month detour to a small Kansas town.

Thea planned to spend the summer after her college graduation housesitting for her parents and making decisions about her future. After learning her parents have abruptly sold her childhood home, Thea has no clear future plans except to drive her best friend Emily’s car from California to New York, where Emily’s brother Eddie lives, while Emily works overseas for a year. Thea’s been casually involved with Eddie, which the two have kept secret from Emily. When Eddie, during a phone call, suggests marriage, however, Thea realizes that not only has he misconstrued their relationship, but that it could also cost her Emily’s friendship. Thea’s drive takes her to Kansas to visit her aunt Wendy, who suggests she stay for the summer, a decision that’s easy to make after she meets Jimmy, a local college instructor. Thea moves in with Jimmy almost immediately, and even as she tries to hide from her own life, she is drawn deeper into Jimmy’s circle of friends and the secrets of the small town. Set in 1983, this is an appealing coming-of-age story anchored by a crisp narrative voice and a strong sense of place. Thea is a richly drawn character: she has flashes of self-awareness but primarily acts impulsively, and yet her assessments of the people around her are strikingly insightful. As such, while the story itself may have a sense of inevitability (given she cannot hide from her parents, Eddie, and Emily forever), Thea gives it life and momentum. Even as Thea questions the relationship between love and home, Rodgers (Ex- Boyfriend on Aisle 6, 2012, etc.) avoids platitudes and easy endings, and this story shines all the brighter against that which is not said.

Simple but sharp and perfectly timed for a summer road trip.