Now That You Mention It
Many teenagers deal with bullying and count the days until they can put high school behind them. Nora Stuart cannot wait to get away from her home in Scutter Island, Maine. As a preteen, she is happy and carefree enjoying her younger sister Lily and the times they share with their dad. When she is 12, their father leaves, never to return. Nora's life changes drastically. Her stoic and elusive mother offers no love or praise, and Nora and Lily drift apart with Nora overeating to soothe her pain.
She describes her teen years as such: "So I had homework, I had my secret food (which wasn't that much of a secret really.) And then came puberty. Overnight, it seemed, the plagues of Egypt visited my body. I went from a chubby adolescent to someone with breasts and a beer belly, thick thighs that chafed, a butt that was both wide AND flat. The hair on my legs was a thick as on my head. I had to shave my armpits daily, or the stubble would prick my skin. I had a 'stache. I had bacne. I got plantar's warts on my knuckles.
"There was no indignity too great. My first period—white pants. My second period left a puddle in my chair in math class. During that special time of the month, I would sweat like I'd just finished the Boston Marathon during a heat wave. I had inexplicable halitosis, despite flossing and brushing three times a day. A new clumsiness happened upon me when I grew boobs, throwing me off balance, causing me to trip and stumble more than anyone else in the world, it seemed."
Written in the first-person, Now That You Mention It highlights Nora's shame and heartache. Higgins writes as though she is there with the reader retelling her anguishing adolescence. Empathy and also a little of "I know exactly how she feels" runs rampant throughout, and you cannot help but cheer on Nora as she struggles to carve out a resourceful life for herself, one where she is fulfilled and not ostracized.
With no friends in high school, Nora buries herself in her lessons. Whenever she must speak in class, she becomes nervous, perspires profusely, breaks out in pimples, and is called "Troll" by her peers. She crushes on Luke Fletcher, but everyone loves him.
Schoolwork comes first and often, Nora studies with Sullivan, Luke's twin brother, who treats her like an equal and not an outcast. In their senior year, a billionaire property owner awards a full-paid scholarship to Tufts University in Boston. Nora, knowing her mom could never afford to send her to college, toils diligently to win this prize.
The problem is her competition is Luke, the hometown hero. Surprising everyone, Nora is the winner, and when it is announced, Luke and his passel of friends are determined to make Nora pay. However, that night Luke takes Sully off the island, and Luke gets drunk and high on cocaine. He insists on driving and an accident ensues with Sully suffering brain damage. Because Nora has enough credits to graduate, she starts at Tufts right away. Treated like the town pariah, she can't wait to get away.
Boston transforms Nora for she works hard, is admitted into med school, and completely redefines herself by losing weight and gaining confidence. Hired at a prestigious Boston Gastroenterology office, she also is employed at the busy Boston City Hospital where she meets and falls in love with Dr. Bobby Byrne. Life could not be better.
Then an incident she terms the "Big Bad Event" or BBE happens, which is alluded to many times in the novel until disclosed about halfway through. Since this trauma, her relationship with Bobby wanes.
After a heroic save in the ER, where Bobby rules as "king," the staff celebrates. Nora heads out for pizza and is hit by a van, sustaining severe injuries. When ambulatory, Nora takes a leave of absence and goes home, the place she deserted many years before.
Some of the townsfolk still blame her for winning the scholarship that causes Luke's downfall. Her cool and aloof mother isn't happy she is back, and she now must contend with her surly 15-year-old niece, Poe, whose mom, Lily is incarcerated in Seattle. Though strange to be back, Nora needs closure as well as healing for both her physical and emotional wounds.
Now That You Mention It is a poignant journey into a young woman's right of passage to become confident and accepting of herself. Along the way she learns of secrets withheld that thwarted her childhood. Highly engaging and down to earth, this tale is often humorous as well as heartrending, yet leads the protagonist and those close to her to a fulfilling and favorable conclusion.