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Now That You Mention It: 01/06/18
Now That You Mention It by Kristan Higgins is about a doctor returning to her island home in Maine to recuperate after she's been hit by a van. Nora needs time to regroup after she overhears her boyfriend flirting with a nurse while she's in the emergency room. She suddenly feels the need to see her family and her home town even though she hasn't been home for seventeen years.
Emotionally Dr. Nora Stuart reminds me of Hattie Troutman, the protagonist and narrator of The Flying Troutmans by Miriam Toews. Like Hattie, Nora has a sister who is in trouble (in jail in Seattle) and a niece who needs her. Poe, though, isn't on her own like Thebes and Logan; she has her taciturn, self-reliant grandmother. Wrapped up in Nora's ambivalence is the story of why she left in the first place and why she hasn't been back. It involves a missing father, a college scholarship, horrific bullying, and a deteriorating relationship between sisters.
The novel is set in Boston and fictional Scupper Island. The island contains a small, self contained village that's big enough to have it's own high school but small enough to be reliant on the summer tourist trade. It sits among the other Calendar islands in Casco Bay. For convenient plot reasons, the island offers ferry service both to Portland, ME, and Boston, MA.
The island, though, could be any small, rural community within reach of a large, metropolitan area. This is the type of place at the heart of the road not taken road narrative, even though it's located on an island. Here, the water is the source of the isolation, with extra effort being needed to come to or leave the island.
Higgins populates her book (and the island) with some wonderful characters. There's Nora's mother who is the sentimental owner of a bird (Tweetie) who she treats better than her children, but could easily butcher a deer. There's Poe, Nora's blue haired, sullen teenaged niece who has a thing for sewing. There's Sullivan, who runs the docks where Nora is living; he's, the mostly deaf, potential love interest (if Nora can figure out her Boston boyfriend). There's Audrey, Sullivan's daughter who desperately wants to be Poe's friend.
All in all, it was a fun two-day read. It was one of those rare books that actually left me with a bit of a hangover, feeling like I wanted more book.