Book Review: The Art of Forgetting by Camille Noe Pagan

The Art of Forgetting by Camille Noe Pagan

Genres: Adult fiction, contemporary.

Marissa Rogers never wanted to be an alpha; beta suited her just fine. Taking charge without taking credit had always paid off: vaulting her to senior editor at a glossy magazine; keeping the peace with her critical, weight-obsessed mother; and enjoying the benefits of being best friends with gorgeous, charismatic, absolutely alpha Julia Ferrar.

And then Julia gets hit by a cab. She survives with minor obvious injuries, but brain damage steals her memory and alters her personality, possibly forever. Suddenly, Marissa is thrown into the role of alpha friend. As Julia struggles to regain her memory- dredging up issues Marissa would rather forget, including the fact that Julia asked her to abandon the love of her life ten years ago- Marissa’s own equilibrium is shaken.

Okay, so apparently I’m really into novels about amnesia. This is the third one I’ve read within a couple of weeks. It just happens! This one was a little different to the others I have read. There’s no gripping and intriguing mystery where we have to try to figure out what caused the protagonist to lose his or her memory. Instead, Marissa, our protagonist, is about to meet up with her best friend Julia when she, horrifyingly, watches a cab hit her. The accident means that Julia suffers from brain injury and it causes her personality to drastically change. The Art of Forgetting is about the consequences this brain injury has on Julia and Marissa’s friendship and it highlights difficulties of friendship and relationships in general. The title has a double meaning: there’s the obvious reference to Julia’s memory loss but it also refers to the equally damaging unwillingness to let go of grudges (and the past) and move on.

The Art of Forgetting
is an extremely positive and inspiring novel. I was pleasantly surprised. The cover, to me, screamed “literary fiction” but instead the narrative was more chick lit. This is by no means a criticism. I think that it actually made it more relatable. Marissa isn’t necessarily an instantly likeable character. She has things that most people crave: a career, an apartment and a happy relationship based on trust – a good life. Even so, Camille Noe Pagan describes Marissa in a way that wasn’t superficial and I could identify with her straight away. Julia is Marissa’s only friend and after the accident, Julia no longer ‘felt’ like Julia, and so Marissa felt completely alone.

I felt completely serene when I had finished The Art of Forgetting because it is one of the most uplifting books I have read so far this year. It shows us that even a horrendous event can be a positive force for change in someone’s life. Thoroughly recommended.

This book was obtained as an eGalley from Penguin.

My Rating: ★★★★