North Star Press (2017)
Reviewed by Kimberly Luyckx for Reader Views (1/18)
“Hundred Miles to Nowhere” is a fun, leisurely-paced tale of girl meets boy – boy meets girl. This is the author’s own story and it begins when Elisa Korenne accepts an artist-in-residence appointment as a singer/songwriter in New York Mills, Minnesota. Although the small town name resembles that of her home base, New York City, the two environments could not be more different. Elisa finds the lifestyle, values and people of this rural community daunting. However, it is during her short stay in the town that she meets her soul mate, homegrown insurance agent, Chris Klein. Once back in New York, Elisa manages to conduct a long distance courtship with her new beau. Eventually, she makes the decision to relocate to Minnesota, dashing her hope of creating a name for herself in the big city. Alternatively, she discovers a pleasant new culture in the countryside and fulfills another lifelong dream – to find a place that she can call home.
It is most interesting to me that this is a memoir. Telling your story can be a challenge; a play by play of one’s own life is not always of interest to others. However, this autobiography is written as a novel. Filled with settings, dialogs and plot, Elisa’s format is truly enveloping. Her songwriting skills add to the composition making it fluid and meaningful. She applies description that elicits emotion and connection. My only criticism is that some segments are too detailed and, at times, the action feels monotonous.
The book contains 50 short chapters that track the couple’s journey over a five-year period. Although each chapter is part of the main storyline, they read like mini tales that can almost stand on their own. In addition, every chapter begins with a quote that references a song written by the author herself. These snippets are intriguing and make me yearn for access to Korenne’s complete set of lyrics.
At the end of the book there is a Reader’s Guide with 21 well thought out inquiries for clubs or interested readers to contemplate. Many of the questions concern the strong cultural divide that exists between two different regions. This is an experience that cannot be understood until one has had the opportunity for comparison. In the rural community, Elisa’s interjections are misjudged as “sarcasm” and she is perplexed when total strangers know her name and business. I like that the writing compares and contrasts each main character as an inhabitant in both rural and big city worlds.
“Hundred Miles to Nowhere” is the perfect story for a relaxing weekend or a quiet day at the beach. Its characters are endearing and the descriptive writing is calming and impressive. Elisa Korenne’s two main characters’ worlds collide in a witty and comfortable manner that will surely leave a smile on your face.