Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Review: This Is Where You Belong

Melody Warnick, like many people, was a frequent mover. After settling into her fifth home in just a few years, she wondered what it would take to make this place feel like home. Warnick begins researching what makes people love their towns and then embarks on a set of experiments to fall in love with Blacksburg, Virginia. Can shopping local, marching in a parade, or inviting her neighbors over make this a place where her family will want to stay?

I was really excited to pick this book up. We moved four times in the first five years of my son's life. Now that we've been in our current town for a few years, I feel like we should have more of a sense of community. We live adjacent to a private high school, and most of our neighbors are close-knit faculty members who aren't knocking at our door to invite us over for a barbecue. I was eager to find some ways to feel more connected to our town.

Melody Warnick has a warm and personable writing style. You don't feel like she's looking down her nose at you because she has walked in your shoes. Each chapter seems to be a good balance of research, interviews with other people, and her own experiences. She writes candidly about her efforts, both good and bad, and even gives readers a handy checklist at the end of each chapter. Instead of just relating the stories of doing random acts of kindness on her birthday and volunteering at a local indie movie theater, she advises readers to find things that break their heart and use that as a starting point for volunteering. 

While this book does provide many specific actions you can take to love the place you live, the moral of the story is that a place feels likes home when you love it. Love of a place is equivalent to how much you invest in its success, so Melody Warnick and her readers (maybe even this one) will be refocusing their efforts to attend a local festival, join a CSA, and even eat a meal with their neighbors.

This Is Where You Belong
By Melody Warnick
Viking June 2016
320 pages
From the library


  1. This sounds like a really interesting book. We moved a lot when my kids were little, too. I found it easiest to love a place by being connected and honestly the kids were what helped with that. Taking them to activities and then peewee sports teams enabled us to meet lots of people and make new friends. I also tried to say "yes" to every invitation, even if I was a little uncomfortable.

  2. This sounds so good! I've not moved as much as you have, but did just move recently and advice books that balance personal stories and research are my favorite :)