4 reviews

The Art of Forgetting
by Camille Noe Pagan

Published: 2012-05-29
Paperback : 304 pages
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Recommended to book clubs by 2 of 4 members
"Remind yourself what really matters with The Art of Forgetting. Fast-paced, painful, funny, and renewing at once. . . . Take a cue from the book and pass it along to your buds."--Daily Candy

"Beautiful . . . a must read!"-Glamour.com

"A quietly compelling literary debut . . . ...

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"Remind yourself what really matters with The Art of Forgetting. Fast-paced, painful, funny, and renewing at once. . . . Take a cue from the book and pass it along to your buds."--Daily Candy

"Beautiful . . . a must read!"-Glamour.com

"A quietly compelling literary debut . . . about the power of friendship and the importance of forgiveness."-Chicago Tribune

Marissa Rogers has always been just fine as a beta. After all, hadn't taking charge without taking credit been paying off--It's what vaulted her to senior editor at a glossy--if somewhat tedious--diet magazine and let her be best friends with gorgeous, charismatic, absolutely alpha Julia Ferrar.

And then Julia is hit by a cab. Her external injuries are minor, but brain damage steals her memory and alters her personality. To help her friend, Marissa must assume the alpha role and help Julia recover her past. As Julia heals, she begins dredging up memories Marissa would rather forget--including the fact that Julia once asked her to abandon the love of her life.

Editorial Review

No editorial review at this time.



There is only one way to boost your metabolism: exercise. I realize this in the middle of editing an article about how cayenne pepper, cinnamon extract, and massive amounts of coffee might, just might, trick your body into burning more calories (but probably not). I’m contemplating how to nicely tell my boss that the story is a load of unprintable crap when the phone rings. ... view entire excerpt...

Discussion Questions

From the author:
After Julia's brain injury, she loses "her internal filter," and says things she shouldn't. Do you think Julia's personality actually changed—or is she just revealing a side of herself that she kept hidden before?

Marissa thinks she's let go of the ways Julia has hurt her in the past, but her actions say otherwise. What does it take to finally forgive someone?

Is Marissa's friendship with Julia ultimately good for her? Why or why not?

From the publisher:
Who is Marissa Rogers? How would you describe her life when we find her at the beginning of the book?

Describe your reaction to Julia’s accident. How does it affect the story? How does it affect the mood of the novel? What does it do to your expectations about the story ahead?

How does the accident change Julia? How does it initially affect the relationship between Julia and Marissa? What do you think about how Marissa dealt with Julia’s personality changes?

In the flashback portions of the book, what more do we learn about the friendship between Julia and Marissa? How would you describe it? What does Marissa see in her relationship with Julia? How does Julia benefit from the relationship?

Who is Nathan, and what does he mean to Marissa? To Julia? How would you define Nathan and Marissa’s relationship? Would you have made the same sacrifice Marissa made? Why?

Would you describe Marissa’s relationship with her mother? Is it normal? How does that relationship affect Marissa’s sense of herself and her body?

What does Marissa gain from her participation in the Take the Lead program? What does she learn from the girls, especially Estrella? What does Marissa see in the relationship between Estrella and her mother, and how does it differ from Marissa’s own relationship with her moth?

What does Marissa learn about Julia’s intentions behind contacting Nathan? How does that complicate Marissa’s life? What do Julia’s actions say about her—and do you think Julia would have done this before her accident? Why or why not?

What life changes are Marissa and Dave embarking on, and how are those changes complicated by the events of the book? What does Dave offer Marissa that Nathan doesn’t? What does Nathan offer her that Dave doesn’t? Who do you think Marissa should have ended up with?

Marissa makes some crucial decisions toward the end of this novel. What is your opinion of her choices regarding her career? How do you feel about her decision regarding Nathan? Why did Marissa make the choices she made? How has she changed from the beginning of the book?

What is the future of Marissa’s relationship with Julia? In what ways did their friendship remain the same as it was before the accident? What do you think the author’s message is about friendship and our responsibilities within friendship?

Thinking back about the events of this novel, how does the book’s title apply to the themes in the story? What do these characters learn to forget? How do they benefit from this? How would you define the author’s message about our relationship with our past?

Notes From the Author to the Bookclub


Q. Julia’s accident is the impetus for action in this book. How did you go about researching brain trauma and its effects? What challenges did you face in writing about this topic? What inspired you to write about it?

I love novels about friendships and had always wanted to write one. I was working on an article about brain health when I stumbled on research about traumatic brain injury. Learning that our personalities, preferences, talents—even our voices—can be so dramatically affected by even a seemingly minor head injury fascinated me, and I began imaging the ways it might affect a woman my age. Before I knew it, I had come up with the plot for The Art of Forgetting.

I started by interviewing several neurologists and reading every study on the subject that I could get my hands on. Midway through writing the first draft, I realized I needed even more information than I already had, so I interviewed a few more neurologists and began spending time in online chat rooms for brain injury survivors and their families and friends. At one point, I was so immersed in brain injury research that I began catching and correcting mistakes in Wikipedia entries on the subject—a fun little tidbit that I worked into Forgetting’s plot.

Interestingly, when I told two of my friends about the novel’s storyline, they were shocked: one had suffered a brain injury herself when she was younger, and the other’s childhood best friend had a brain injury that had contributed to the disintegration of their friendship! This confirmed for me that while my novel was fictional, it was rooted in truth—and my friends’ insights also helped me significantly in revising later drafts of Forgetting.

Q. Like Marissa, you are also a journalist specializing in health and nutrition. What pressures do you see on a woman’s self–image within that industry? What conflicts do you see between your responsibility to the publication for which you’re writing and your identity as a woman?

As a freelance journalist, I have the ability to choose who I will and will not write for. That’s a great thing! No magazine is perfect, but I try to work for those that are conscious of the message they’re sending to women and girls. As a mother, my litmus test is: if my daughter was old enough to read this magazine, would I be okay with her doing so, or would this magazine diminish her self–esteem and provide her with potentially damaging information? If I wouldn’t want her to see it, then I don’t work with that publication.

Q. The Art of Forgetting flashes back between the past and the present. How did you go about building this story? What were some of your biggest challenges in constructing the narrative? What tips would you give to other authors writing their first novels?

Some people never focus on their past. I’m not one of them! For me, it was natural to write a story that used flashbacks, although it was undeniably challenging to keep track of all the little details and the timeline of Marissa and Julia’s life.

My advice to would–be authors is to write the book that you would want to read. Not what you think will sell, or that you think other people would prefer—the novel you would pick up on a bookshelf and wouldn’t put down again until you finished it. Do that, and the rest will work itself out.

Q. Marissa makes some difficult decisions toward the end of the book. What central message do you want your audience to walk away with? What do you think is the most important part of Marissa Rogers’ story?

Many readers have told me they were surprised that Marissa didn’t run away with Nathan. To me, it wasn’t just forgiving and loosening her ties with Julia, but choosing Dave that marked Marissa’s entry to adult life. I think Marissa ultimately reveals that it is often the hard choices— the ones that require us to abandon beliefs we’ve clung to for years, and even decades—that are the most rewarding, and the best for us.

Q. What are you working on now? Can we expect more from Marissa Rogers? What are some topics or issues you’d like to explore in future work?

Marissa may show up in future books, but right now, I’m very excited to be working on something different: a novel about four childhood friends—two men and two women—and how a series of events that occurred during their late teens influenced their lives in their mid–thirties, particularly in light of the fact that one of them has become famous. It’s a big departure from Forgetting—yet I’m again returning to the theme of how our friendships influence the people we become.

Book Club Recommendations

Member Reviews

Overall rating:
  "The Art of Forgetting"by sandranavarette (see profile) 04/13/13

  "The Art of Forgetting"by KimberlyAnne (see profile) 08/08/12

This is a good story that is easy to read. Not the best selection for a book club, but good to read for yourself.

  "Friendship survival"by BookDivasReads (see profile) 07/27/12

Julia Ferrar and Marissa Rogers have been friends since their high school days in Michigan. Marissa is an editor for a health magazine and Julia is a publicist for a ballet company in New Yo... (read more)

  "This, in my opinion, is YA or chic lit"by ebach (see profile) 07/16/12

THE ART OF FORGETTING by Camille Noe Pagán is a young adult novel, and my three-star rating is for a YA book. I made the mistake of assuming it was a more advanced book, which I prefer, and... (read more)

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