Favorite Quote: “Nobody puts Nora in the corner.”
Reviewed by Tori
Nora Stuart left her small Maine island hometown fifteen years ago and never returned. Winning a full scholarship to Tufts gave her the freedom to leave and achieve her dreams. Now a specialist in gastroenterology, Nora finds herself longing for home after she is in an accident and awakens in the hospital to hear her fiance making a date with another doctor.
But going home again isn’t as easy as Nora thinks. The town has a long memory and not everyone is happy she’s returned. Nora attempts to mend fences and straighten her with the town and her family, finally dealing with her past and granting herself permission to move on and be happy.
“Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you.” As I read this story, that particular quote by Robert Frost kept running through my head. We’ve all had that moment in our lives where we have felt the road to home was blocked to us, only to discover that the block was us. Higgin’s last couple of books have been interesting ventures, the focus on family and personal growth rather than finding (or rediscovering) true love as she digs deep into the relationships we hold with those around us and the effects the past has on our lives.
True to form, Now That You Mention It also focuses on family and the past but chooses to stick with one protagonist instead of two and keeps the romance as a small element in the story. Though once againHiggins chooses infidelity as the catalyst and there is the ever-present notion that weight has a say in whether we are happy and/or successful. Amusing and emotional with a strong running theme of redemption and forgiveness, Now That You Mention It is a delightful story about a woman’s journey back home to heal her body and discovers a way to heal her heart and spirit along the way.
“I got bored with me.”
“So what changed?”
“I got hit by a van.”
Growing up in a small town is hard enough; being bullied only makes it worse. Nora and her sister had a good life until their father disappeared. While their puritanical mother took care of business as always, Nora ate her way through her depression while her sister turned to drugs. A gifted student, Nora knows her only way out of her hell is through a scholarship and uses her wits to beat out Luke Fletcher, the town golden boy for it, only to be blamed for his inability to handle losing.
Nora leaves the island and uses the time and money to reinvent herself as someone she could be proud out. New look, new attitude, and most importantly new friends and she never look back beyond letters and the occasional meetup. An accident and unfaithful boyfriend sends Nora running home and head first into the dramatics only a small town can manufacture. She is not only blamed for stealing the scholarship and Luke’s steady decline but also for daring to become successful AND attractive.
Lee Harvey Oswald had also had a shitty overprotective mother, they said.
Wanting to rebuild her relationship with her family, Nora settles in for the long haul, renting a houseboat and volunteering at the local clinic for the duration of her stay while reacquainting herself with her family, friends, and the town itself. She begins to ask questions about the events that happened so long ago-the scholarship and her father’s disappearance. We often view life throughout own expectations and realities, only to discover the scenery changes as we grow older and gain experience. Bittersweet in the reveal, Nora learns more about her family and – seeing the subtle differences between what she remembers and what really happened.
“My childhood had ended, and I never even had a chance to say goodbye.”
Witty and energetic, Nora is a bundle of snark and compassion as she wrangles her reluctant niece into joining the human race, befriends a lonely teenager, and tries to set up her mother with the few available men on the island. Told in a single POV, we flash between the past and the present, gaining insight into Nora’s life and seeing the coping mechanisms she developed in response to her childhood. Higgins layers Nora’s feelings with plenty of laughter, sorrow, pain, and honesty. And you feel the range of emotions she experiences and share in them every step of the way.
“You’ve been different this past year.”
“Really, Mom? How would you even know?”
A small romance mainly serves to reward Nora for discovering her worth on her own though I must say I enjoyed their times together. There was a lot of laughter in that journey and I appreciated that Higgins doesn’t make it insta-love or a fix all for Nora’s problems.
An eclectic and vibrant cast of secondary characters contributes their own stories, adding to Nora’s life collage. We meet friends, enemies, exes, and family members, learning in how even the smallest interaction can make a huge difference in life later on. I enjoyed meeting the people who all had a hand in creating the woman Nora is today.
Once again Higgins’ writes a compelling contemporay about family and forgiveness as she invites all of us on a grand adventure to Scupper, Maine and into the home and hearts of the witty and dysfunctional Stuart family.