Customer Reviews for

The Art of Forgetting: A Novel

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  • Posted June 9, 2011

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    Masterful examination of friendship

    Is your best friend perfect? Probably not. Evidently you love her anyway or you would have abandoned the friendship long ago. The Art of Forgetting explores the twists and turns in a friendship that is less than harmonious, yet essential for one's well-being. Self-deprecating Marissa and self-centered Julia have been friends since they were fourteen. Although they show their love in very different ways, Julia and Marissa need each other to the extent that their friendship becomes an addiction. Both women are flawed, yet they remain bonded. An accident leaves Julia, a dancer, with Traumatic Brain Injury. While she recuperates their solidarity is tested and strengthened in ways neither Julia nor Marissa understands. The book is aptly titled. New and long-held hurts are best forgotten. Julia punches Marissa with unflinching, hurtful honesty (a side effect of a frontal lobe injury). Both have issues over a man they tangled with in the past. The sheen on their friendship has been tarnished by the past and tested by the accident, but they manage to move past the old issues and form a new bond. Marissa, who suffers from a constant need to be rescued and buoyed up by her friends, uncovers a positive self-image that can't be taught. The plot element of coaching an after-school running team comes out of the blue, but is well-utilized in Marissa's discovery that she is the only one who can help her believe in herself. Author Camille Noe Pagán regularly publishes features about women's health in various national publications. The Art of Forgetting marks her debut in fiction. Pagán admits that fiction is a great departure from journalism. After a day of writing articles dealing with hard science, she spent her nights writing her novel. Writing fiction felt to her "like a wonderful escape; I loved sitting down and digging into my characters' lives." A specialist in scientific inquiry, the author consulted medical journals, medical experts in brain injury and entered chat rooms for first-hand perspectives from people with Traumatic Brain Injury. She provides resources for TBI at the end of the book. Readers looking for perfect characters to emulate may be disappointed by The Art of Forgetting. The book will appeal to those who have worked hard to earn personal growth and forge strong relationships. The book is a courageous examination of flawed human beings coping with a disturbed equilibrium. The jacket cover is luminous. Are we looking at a dancer taking her last bow due to her brain injury? Or, perhaps, the image is that of one woman or two attempting to hold themselves together against all odds. The Penguin Group provided the advance review copy. The opinions expressed in the review are unbiased and wholly those of the reviewer. Reviewed by Holly Weiss, author of Crestmont

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 1, 2011

    Harsh beginning, uplifting end

    I had a little difficulty getting into this book, but I am so glad I did! The development of the main character, Marissa, completely brought me into her world. When she was on the verge of each decision, I was on the edge of my seat. Well written and worth it...and I like happy endings.

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  • Posted August 22, 2011

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    a satisfying and memorable read

    Marissa and Julia have been best friends since childhood. Marissa is a smart, quiet girl with a conciliatory nature. She has always battled with her weight and lack of self-esteem, and her relationship with Julia makes her feel needed. Julia, on the other hand is gorgeous, charismatic and possessive. They are opposite in character but inseparable as friends. Now, ten years later, they are living their dream of living in New York city-Marissa as senior editor of a glossy health magazine and Julia as a publicist for NYC Ballet. Their relationship changes suddenly, though, when Julia is hit by a cab and suffers a traumatic brain injury that affects her memory and alters her personality.

    The Art of Forgetting is a novel about friendships and defining who we are through them. When Julia brings up the past, trying to reunite Marissa with her first love ten years ago because of the guilt she feels at having separated them years ago, Marissa is forced to confront her decisions both past and present. Ultimately, Marissa discovers her strengths, her beauty, and appreciation for what she has in her life.

    I liked Marissa right from the start, with her insecurities, her loyalty and devotion, and her kindness. The whole brain injury setting was fascinating and the author even includes resources on traumatic brain injury at the back of the novel, stating that each year an estimated 1.4 to 1.7 million people in the US will suffer a brain injury. Truly a sobering statistic.

    I also liked Julia, with her "joie de vivre", inability to commit in relationships and her possessiveness. My heart ached for her as she struggled to cope with her accident and the changes it brought in her life. The equilibrium of her relationship with Marissa was jolted by the effects of this accident but as with all close friendships, both Marissa and Julia discover a new level of their relationship through forgiving and forgetting-the foundation of any strong friendship.

    I found this novel refreshing and thought-provoking. It made me appreciate the wonderful friendships in my life, from my husband to my closest girl friends. The serious topic, the setting, the evolution of the characters and the theme of forgiveness and moving ahead made this a satisfying and memorable reading experience.

    Note: This book includes a few f-words.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 17, 2011

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    A Must Read!

    Marissa Rogers and Julia Ferrar became the best of friends from the first day they met their freshman year in high school. Julia, the queen bee with a good heart, helped Marissa to acclimate to her new surroundings and made her school experience, which had to this point been riddled with teasing and embarrassment, a little more enjoyable. They quickly became inseparable and gave to each other what they couldn't seem to get anywhere else. For Marissa, she now had someone to boost her self esteem instead of constantly putting her down like her own mother did. For Julia, she had someone who really listened to her and kept her sometimes selfish and pouty nature in check. This sweet but egocentric personality naturally placed Julia as the leader of the relationship, and Marissa was just fine with that. Their friendship was the most important thing in her life, and if sacrifice is what she needed to keep it running smoothly, then so be it. Even when Julia asked Marissa to sacrifice her first love, Nathan, during college, a request that almost had Marissa standing up to her best friend, she acquiesced. While she was heartbroken, she moved on with her and Julia's plans to graduate, move to New York, and start their new lives as ballerina (Julia) and someday editor in chief of a big magazine (Marissa).

    Julia and Marissa are living their dream when Julia is accidentally hit by a cab. While her body seems to sustain little harm the accident has caused a severe head trauma. Julia's memory is now sporadic and as unpredictable as her temper, and even her voice is nothing like the old Julia. She has different tastes, from colors to clothes to even a new love for cats, and is prone to migraines and speaking with no social filter. Marissa is now thrust unwittingly into the driver's seat of their relationship and soon learns she is going to have to expand and grow beyond Julia if she is going to get through this terrible ordeal and help either of them move on.

    While Julia moves in with her parents in Ann Arbor, Michigan and works on her recovery, Marissa begins to develop some new friendships and improve some old ones she had often left neglected while concentrating on Julia and her needs. Her relationship with her boyfriend, Dave, continues to grow stronger and she even takes the big step of moving in with him. She agrees to coach a running program for girl and soon learns that these young girls are teaching her as much about self esteem and growth as she is supposed to be teaching them. While she begins to sort out the issues in her own life as well as keep her friendship open with Julia, Julia throws a curveball at her by bringing Nathan back into the picture and trying to convince Marissa that he was the one she was meant to be with. Marissa cannot help but wonder if Julia might be right about Nathan, even if her ways of going about it are wrong. Could he be the proverbial one that got away? If so, what does that mean for Dave, a man who gives her such stability and love that she cannot seem to imagine where this great man has come from?

    With her best friend no longer able to help her through the tough times and who is actually making her life even more complicated, Marissa is on her own to figure out what is right for her. She must make her own decisions and decide what life she is meant to live. Finally forced to be the leader of her own destiny, she learns that she is much stronger than she ever imagined she could be.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 28, 2011

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    Enjoyable novel about friendship

    Marissa Rogers has lived in the shadow of her best friend, Julia, for as long as she can remember, and she is just fine with that. Marissa does well for herself as the editor for <em>Svelte</em> a health magazine, while Julia is a publicist for a ballet company in New York. Though Julia is extremely self-involved, Marissa has always stuck by her. Their friendship has weathered many storms, but despite the bad times, their friendship has always managed to stay strong. When Julia is hit by a cab and suffers a traumatic brain injury, she returns to Michigan to recover and Marissa finds herself reevaluating her life now that Julia is no longer the Julia she knew.

    The book is told in both present tense, and through a series of flashbacks, giving the reader a glimpse at the history between Marissa & Julia, and is very well-written. The characters are real and believable, but I found myself extremely frustrated with Marissa at times for putting up with Julia's behavior. This book is perfect for anyone who loves "Chick-Lit", and stories about female friendships. Though at times cliche', the book was enjoyable and I was satisfied with the ending.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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