Now That You Mention It by Kristan Higgins
Publisher: Graydon House
Published: December 2017
Genre: women’s fiction, contemporary
One step forward. Two steps back. The Tufts scholarship that put Nora Stuart on the path to becoming a Boston medical specialist was a step forward. Being hit by a car and then overhearing her boyfriend hit on another doctor when she thought she was dying? Two major steps back.
Injured in more ways than one, Nora feels her carefully built life cracking at the edges. There’s only one place to land: home. But the tiny Maine community she left fifteen years ago doesn’t necessarily want her. At every turn, someone holds the prodigal daughter of Scupper Island responsible for small-town drama and big-time disappointments.
With a tough islander mother who’s always been distant and a wild-child sister in jail, unable to raise her daughter–a withdrawn teen as eager to ditch the island as Nora once was–Nora has her work cut out for her if she’s going to take what might be her last chance to mend the family.
But as some relationships crumble around her, others unexpectedly strengthen. Balancing loss and opportunity, a dark event from her past with hope for the future, Nora will discover that tackling old pain makes room for promise…and the chance to begin again.
After Nora is hit by a van and witnesses her boyfriend cheating on her, she has a bit of an awakening, packs her bags, and moves back to Maine for the summer. She didn’t exactly leave her home island with relationships intact, and wants to patch up things with her mother, her sister (albeit through Nora’s niece), and the people still there. But while she’s patching up her life, she must face the impacts of the past, and learn how to face old traumas and disappointments head on.
This is the kind of women’s fiction I enjoy. Here’s this woman who has her life together on the surface — great job, nice home, cool city, boyfriend — but underneath it all are past fears, disappointments, and trauma. Nora was once the target for bullying, and was also the victim of a break-in and assault (trigger warnings). But she didn’t let these things prevent her from moving forward in her life. I really like how she handled everything, maturely even though the temptation to lash out at others or go on a binger would feel best in the moment. Nora is smart and intelligent, with deep empathy for others despite their treatment of her. That’s not to say she’s not facing struggles or that her life is rosy-perfect and she’s unaffected — she absolutely is impacted by everything. But it was refreshing to read from this perspective. Not everyone needs to go off the edge to tell a good story.
The small town atmosphere was perfect, and I loved the variety of characters in this novel. I especially liked the relationships between Nora, her niece Poe, the love interest Sullivan, and his daughter Audrey. Each of them have such interesting journeys from the last fifteen years, and it’s so neat to see them come together. Oh, and Sullivan? Swoon. What a sweet and caring man, without being macho or overbearing. I liked that he was partially deaf too — a result of his own car wreck over a decade ago — as it added an interesting dynamic with Nora, with the town, and with his daughter. More deaf narratives, please!
This was good. It’s not a light read by any means, but the pages certainly turn. Nora’s wit and humor, and her tell-it-like-it-is attitude made for an entertaining read, even in the dark moments.
This qualifies as book 5 of 16 in my TBR challenge.