Book Review: “Now That You Mention It” by Kristan Higgins

Now That You Mention It is the latest novel by New York Times bestselling novelist Kristan Higgins. Higgins has written over a dozen novels, most in the romance category. Now That You Mention It is a much more mainstream novel that tells the story of Nora Stuart, a bright young doctor whose whole life falls apart after a “big, bad incident.” When her boyfriend leaves her for another woman, Nora decides to take some time out and return to her family home on Scupper Island in Maine. What follows is an insightful and heartwarming journey into a young woman’s past and a mending of her future.

Nora Stuart has always been a smart, driven loner. Her father abandoned her, her sister and mother when Nora was eleven, creating a divide between sisters who once were close. Lily ended up being the popular one at school, leaving her nerdy and overweight sister to face the wrath and bullying of their classmates. After Nora outsmarts the school’s popular and handsome football player, and she actually starts receiving death threats, she escapes to college in Boston and begins to redesign herself into the driven, brilliant, professional gastroenterologist that she currently is.

Her perfectly crafted new life comes crashing down when a “big, bad event” devastates her life and her relationship with her boyfriend, Bobby, a flirtatious emergency room hotshot doctor. After getting hit by an exterminator truck, Nora realizes she needs to slow down and re-evaluate her life, and reluctantly decides to return home to a small island off the coast of Maine. Nora’s mother has always been stern and distant, and at the moment is looking after her sister’s niece, Poe, while Lily is in jail for drug related crimes. Yes, this a family that has definitely put the “fun in dysfunctional.”

Additionally, returning to the island brings up other remnants of Nora’s past, including angry former classmates – and angry former classmates’ parents – who still haven’t forgiven her for “taking opportunities” away from them, as they saw it. Nora also has to deal with Sullivan Fletcher, her secret high school crush. Nora is also moved to re-open her investigation into her idolized father’s disappearance, re-establish contact with her estranged sister, and come to terms with the shocking occurrence that nearly cost her her life the previous year.

While there are elements of romance in the novel, I wouldn’t really classify it as a romance novel. It addresses issues such as troubled childhood, the effects of a parent’s abandonment, hiding behind a created persona, dealing with personal physical violations, reaching out to form new bonds, and finally, learning how to be happy living inside your own skin. This book made me laugh and cry, and absolutely feel for the main character Nora.

I loved Nora from the very first line of the book, “The first thought I had after I died was: How will my dog deal with this?” She’s funny, she’s self-deprecating, observant and caring. She reaches out to the people around her, although she is far too nice to people she should have cut out long ago, aka Bobby, the player ER doctor she’s lived with for almost a year. I could relate to her, especially when she talks about her high school years. I enjoyed all of her encounters with her patients, as well as her struggles to reach out to a recaltricint Poe. Her relationship with her stern and distant mother is interesting and takes a few wild and unexpected turn. Two of my favorite scenes in the novel feature Nora and her mother – a hilarious and outrageous party that Nora throws in order to set Mom up with some of Scupper Island’s most eligible, single, older men, and an evening meal that involves Nora’s date and gives new meaning to the term “cooking a bird for dinner.”

The many plot twists kept me turning pages, and the reveal of the “big bad incident” chilled me to the bone. The bursts of Nora’s humor kept me laughing, even through the dark times in her life. Higgins is a natural at comedic turn of phrase, and I could really feel she cared about the characters and places she writes about. There’s a whole lot of heart in this novel.

Higgins writes extremely well and knows how to engage a reader. After finishing Now That You Mention It, I immediately went out and sought out her previous novels. She has made a fan out of me, and Now That You Mention It is permanently on my keeper shelf. I highly recommend this novel to lovers of family and women’s fiction.

For more on Kristan, visit her website.

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