I can’t remember the last time a novel swept me up into a life and a world so very different from my own while also making me question so very much about myself. But Nicole Blades‘ Have You Met Nora? (Dafina) is just that book.
Nora, is a protagonist who walks a tightrope from the very first page to the last. She skirts the line between owning her life completely and losing control entirely, between being the hero everyone around her believes her to be and being defeated by her self-loathing. Nicole Blades’ tight and raw storytelling makes sure you’re right there with Nora every step of the way.
Just like the monsters of Nora’s past, this book gives you no respite, not from feeling the undiluted pain of an abused child, or the isolation of a woman who finds it impossible to own her identity in a world that loves to label. When we first meet Nora she’s a successful, perfectly put-together fashion consultant on the verge of marrying one of the most eligible billionaires in the world.
In their gilded glamorous world, Nora and Fisher have found a precious spark of something real. But in place of an excited and jittery bride, we find someone haunted by a past that suddenly resurfaces when she finds the obituary of a man who eternally ruined her happiness. She is catapulted into the darkness of her childhood, and she must emerge from all the lies she’s carefully constructed to face her past head-on.
Once out of their vault, Nora carries her horrors everywhere and always, unable to share them with anyone. As readers, we want to help her, we want her to share the truth, but despite believing that those around Nora love her, we cannot keep ourselves from buying into her belief that the truth she has to reveal will destroy her life. That is Blades’ true skill, how she builds a world where even when she hands you the real promise of hope and love and friendship, she doesn’t allow you to buy into them completely, placing you squarely in the experience of the protagonist. The narrative moves swiftly, making you at once crave and fear what is coming, but it also keeps you rooted in the experiences worthy of the hard questions it raises.
The writing is evocative and honest, with the kind of attention to detail that will stick in your memory even as you exit the book. You will wish Nora could have made different choices, but you won’t ever be able to justify fully how she might have made them. Having met Nora, as the title urges you to, you will see her, really see her, but you’ll also be acutely aware of all the things in your world you walk past without seeing.
Have You Met Nora? is available for purchase.
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ABOUT NICOLE BLADES:
Nicole Blades is a novelist, speaker, and journalist. She started at Essence magazine, later co-founded the online magazine SheNetworks, and worked as an editor at ESPN and Women’s Health.
Nicole’s work has appeared in The New York Times, Cosmopolitan, Women’s Health, Good Housekeeping, WashingtonPost.com, MarieClaire.com, and BuzzFeed. Her latest book Have You Met Nora? is out now, along with her previous novels The Thunder Beneath Us and Earth’s Waters. Listen to her weekly podcast Hey, Sis! about women finding their focus and place in business, art, culture, and life. She lives with her husband, their son, and puppy in New England. Find out more at NicoleBlades.com.