June 7, 2011

Book Review: The Art of Forgetting by Camille Noe Pagan

At First Sight: Melissa and Julie have been best friends since they were fourteen, being each other's rocks as they navigate through life; and eventually they both end up in New York City living the dream... until Julie is hit by a cab right before Melissa's eyes. Even though physically she's just fine, Julie isn't the same on the heels of severe brain trauma, which alters her personality and moods, leaving both Julie and Melissa feeling lost.

Not to mention that Julie, who has lost any kind of filter between her mind and her mouth, is suddenly obsessed with Nathan, Melissa's college ex and possibly the one that got away. Only that Nathan didn't just get away, Melissa set him free because of Julie. 

Away from Julie - who moves back with her parents - for the first time in nearly a decade, Marissa is forced to take a long, hard look at her life. At the fact she rarely sees her friends, that she doesn't loves her job anymore, that her tax lawyer boyfriend Dave might be a little boring, and that life might just not be as exciting without Julie in it and that Julie - the one she knows and loves - might never come back.

Second Glance: I don't know what made me pick up The Art of Forgetting, since is not really the type of book I usually read - it's more Chick Lit/Women's fiction than, say, romance. But I was so pleasantly surprised with how awesome, bittersweet and enjoyable this book was. 

Camille Noe Pagan does an amazing job portraying the friendship between Melissa and Julie, this relationship is incredibly nuanced and feels real. While Julie is quite manipulative at times, she isn't exactly a toxic friend - she loves and cares for Mel, and she is possessive of her because Mel is her rock; and on the other hand, Julie makes Mel feel needed and wanted in the way she never really did before they met. One of my favorite aunts is a stroke survivor and she has severe brain injury, even if it didn't came out of a trauma, and I can say that the author makes a heartbreaking but quite accurate portrayal of how difficult and sad is to cope with this type of thing, which leaves this person you love still there but not quite the same.

Another thing I want to mention is that this is a very adult book and that Melissa has very adult problems, but she deals with them as an adult. There is a point in the story where she gets to run a bunch of "What Ifs" in her mind regarding Nathan and what she let go off because Julie asked her to, but it never occurred to her to cheat on her boyfriend; and Mel does realize that what she has going on with Dave is good, even if he is a bit of a workaholic and not perfect and too stable - he loves her.

Also, loved the way Melissa starts to find her own way - through running and a bunch of girls she coaches to run a 5 K race who often teach her more than what she can teach them. And her family, Dave's family and other friends are quite well drawn and do read like real people.

Bottom Line: I was happily surprised with The Art of Forgetting. I do think the ending was a bit neat, but I'm not letting it bothering me too much; and I'll definitely be checking out this author in the future.

Favorite Quote: "Honey, I think you should be more worried about yourself than about your future children." Joyel tells me with a wistful smile. "Because trust me, it's the weight of someone else's expectations that's harder to lose."
starstarstarstar1/3Personal Favorite

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