Narrated by Xe Sands
Nora Stuart left her small town of Scupper Island, Maine, after high school to head to the Big City with a full scholarship to Tufts U. She also left her identity as an overweight, awkward and bullied nerd behind, got her MD and is now a successful gastroenterologist in Boston. A brush with death (not quite as bad as it sounded but it made for a terrific opening) revealed some truths to her – her doctor boyfriend is tired of her, she learns when she wakes up in the hospital to observe him flirting with a resident – and she needs some time away to heal. However, her decision to return to Scupper Island is not as much of a cure-all as she’d hoped: her mother, a laconic, stereotypical Mainer, doesn’t seem very happy to see her; her younger sister Lily – once the beautiful popular girl – is now incarcerated, and her sister’s daughter is living with her mother; the islanders are generally either indifferent and don’t recognize her, or they remember her with contempt. I guess you really can’t go home again.
Now That You Mention It is women’s fiction with a touch of romance – it’s a chronicle of Nora’s journey to healing, starting with the hole in her life left when her father abandoned the family, moving through being bullied at school and including two traumatic events in Boston, both of which left her bruised and beaten physically and emotionally. In high school, she was egghead smart and a contender for the annual Tufts scholarship, which she won by a nose over the boy she was infatuated with (who treated her like shit), Luke Fletcher, the town’s favored son. Luke and his mother, Teeny, have never gotten over it, and Luke – really, for reasons other than not winning the scholarship – is pretty much a loser who suffers from substance abuse, and that exacerbates his bullying. Luke’s twin brother Sullivan is now a single dad, raising his daughter by one of the mean girls in town – Nora’s current relationship with Sully is the closest thing to romance in the story.
The story has the classic touch of Kristan Higgins – there are moments of quirky humor, as well as emotional moments – Nora spends time writing her sister in prison, but Lily rebuffs her for reasons I never really grasped (I might have to read it again). She tries to forge a relationship with her niece, Poe, who has already entered the terrible teens. To get out a little more, Nora starts working at a local medical clinic (although I kept wondering about her broken ribs and clavicle??). She decides to set her mother up with a new man, and ends up throwing a disastrous dinner party (spoiler, something I wish I’d known going in: the deer doesn’t die).
Kristan Higgins and Xe Sands are another of my Dream Team author/narrator pairings – although some of Higgins’ more recent releases have been by Amy Rubinate, I think Sands is the better voice actor for Higgins’ writing. Sands manages to keep Nora sounding optimistic in spite of the litany of her struggles, including breaking up with her doctor boyfriend, and her longing to fit in and be accepted by her home town. Sands differentiates all the characters well, and delivers a few different regional and ethnic accents authentically. She has an extremely pleasant tone, and her performance sounds like she is sitting there with you, telling you her story – it’s a very genuine, authentic style of narration that I love.
The romance is just a whisper in the story – Nora and Sullivan connect, awkwardly, when she invites his daughter over to meet her niece. Their first sexual encounter is maybe a little too realistic – Nora wants to but doesn’t feel much chemistry, and I thought that was going to be it for them, but then Higgins believably builds the relationship back up. If you’re more in the mood for a woman’s journey to reconcile her past than hot-and-heavy romance, Now That You Mention It could be your next entertaining listen.
TITLE: Now That You Mention It
AUTHOR: Kristan Higgins
NARRATED BY: Xe Sands
GENRE: Women's Fiction
STEAM FACTOR: 2
REVIEWER: MelindaBuy Now That You Mention It by Kristan Higgins on Amazon EXCERPT: