The Art of Forgetting by Camille Noe Pagan
Published by Dutton Adult, an imprint of Penguin
Review copy provided by the publisher via TLC Book Tours
Marissa Rogers has always taken a backseat to her vivacious and charismatic best friend Julia. But when Julia is in an accident and suffers memory loss, everything changes for the two women – Marissa is forced into the alpha role, and Julia has to work hard just to remember ordinary things about her life. Julia begins bringing up memories from the past that Marissa would rather keep locked away, forcing Marissa to question aspects of their friendship she thought she’d forgiven years ago. It’s up to Marissa to find the confidence and individuality this new Julia requires as a best friend, and to figure out if she’s willing to forgive Julia once again.
The Art of Forgetting is a compelling story about friendship, but it is more than that – the book really is about Marissa’s journey to find herself, to become her own independent person who makes decisions not based on what someone else wants or needs but based on her own needs. It is about Marissa taking an honest look at her friend Julia, good bad and otherwise, and deciding if she really can be friends with this person despite everything. I really enjoyed everything about it.
Marissa is a great character. She is unsure of herself, not very confident, and unwilling or unable to stick up for herself, but what makes her great is that she has real development as a person over the course of the novel. By the end of the book she truly blossoms into a confident, happy person, sure of what she needs out of life and what her wants are, and for me that was the best part of the book. Her growth was authentic and fit in with the rest of the story, and I think it was done perfectly. Julia, on the other hand, was more difficult for me to like but I have to admit that even she grew on me by the time I finished the book. She had her own development as a person to go through, and Pagan definitely wrote her character to be realistically flawed, in a way that she was forced to grow and change for the reader to appreciate her.
This novel made me stop and think about what a best friend really is, and what responsibility one has to his/her best friend. Julia was selfish and put her own needs ahead of Marissa’s, yet Marissa would just forget about all the ways Julia bested her again and again throughout the years of their friendship. When Julia has the head injury, Marissa actively thinks about how easily and quickly she’s forgiven Julia so many times, and begins to think that maybe she shouldn’t be so forgiving, maybe Julia isn’t what a best friend should be. It made me stop and think about my own friendships, how yes I’ve hurt my BFFs and they’ve hurt me, but we’ve always been able to forgive and forget and our friendships have grown because of those kinds of issues. What I liked about this novel is that Marissa actively considered the fact that Julia might not be a good friend to her, and came up with her own conclusions about what is really important in a friendship. I won’t share those conclusions with you (you’ll need to read the book for that) but I was satisfied with her decisions and definitely thought about my own best friends as she was thinking about and reflecting about her friendship with Julia.
I really enjoyed The Art of Forgetting. The characters came to life and the story really made me think about my own friendships. I had a difficult time putting the book down once I got into the story and I would definitely recommend it.