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Posted June 9, 2011
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
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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.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 22, 2011
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.
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Posted August 9, 2012
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Posted July 5, 2011
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