Saturday, January 7, 2012

Book Review: The Art of Forgetting...and some 2012 dreaming

When I went to the library this past week, I had the opportunity to browse the new books section.  The Cobbler came with me and the kids (which NEVER happens) so I was able to actually look around BY MYSELF!  I came across the book The Art of Forgetting.  The title was familiar to me so I must have read some review of it somewhere.  Then, I noticed the author's name.  Again, familiar.  So familiar in fact that I immediately flipped to the back inside cover to see if there was a photo of the author.  There was and I recognized the face.  I went to high school with the author Camille Noe Pagan.  I mentioned my discovery to my younger sister and her response was, "Oh yeah.  I ran on the cross country team with her."  Needless to say, I was interested to see what a peer from high school had produced in the way of a novel.  

The Art of Forgetting opens on the main character Marissa, a health and fitness magazine editor in New York City, waiting to meet her best friend Julia for dinner.  Marisa catches a glimpse of Julia through the restaurant window as she gets plowed down by a taxi while crossing the street.  Julia suffers a traumatic brain injury that forces her to abandon her life in New York and move back to Michigan to live with her parents.  The book tracks Marissa's struggle to come to terms with the changes in Julia's personality post-accident and how Julia's past influence on her life has affected her.  Because Julia has lost her filter on what is appropriate, she begins trying to reconnect Marissa with her college boyfriend whom Julia forced her to break up with a decade earlier.  Can Marissa be her own person and live her own life without being under Julia's thumb?

As I began reading The Art of Forgetting, I was a little distracted by knowing the person who wrote the book.  I was not friends with this girl, but I remember her because she was popular and well liked.  She was of the student council/cheerleading squad variety, except unlike in the movies, she had a warm personality.  Getting back to the review --- as I started reading I was distracted by the narrator seemingly being a thinly disguised version of the author.  I even let a surprised laugh escape when I realized she named the main character's boyfriend's mother after another girl who went to our high school.  Trust me---she has not met anyone else with this name.  In the end, I was pleasantly surprised with this book.  The Art of Forgetting was an easy read with a few cringe worthy moments, courtesy of Julia and Marissa's weight obsessed mother.  The smoothness of the narrative was similar to the books I just read by Sarah Addison Allen.  Although the subject matter was a bit heavy, you always felt like you were reading something that could easily be made into made for TV movie.  It was a worthy debut with an uplifting ending.  I'll be interested to see Pagan tackles next in her writing.

On a separate but related note, 2012 is off to an uneven start for me.  I've been suffering a bit with a still unidentified illness (I don't want to elaborate because that would definitely be TMI :-).  I want to beat my head against the wall on this one---I just can't see why I can't stay healthy!  Because of feeling under the weather, I haven't even considered my goals for the upcoming year which is very unlike me.  I've also been thinking a lot about dreams.  It was kind of a shock seeing that book on the shelf in the library and thinking "Wow, someone I know has published a novel!"  Then, I found out that another girl I was friends with in high school just came out with an album of Christian music and was named one of Billboard's Artists to Watch in 2011.  When we were in high school, she was constantly talking of how she wanted to get a record deal one day.  I have to hand it to her.  Our 20th high school reunion might be only two years away, but she did it!  I bought the MP3 copy of the album and the songs are pretty darn good too.

So where does that leave me?  I learned a long time ago that you can't compare yourself to others, but sometimes it's hard not to---especially when you were the one voted "Most Likely to Succeed" in high school.  Do I want to be a professional singer?  Nope and I don't have the singing talent to be one anyway.  Do I want to be a novelist?  That would be nice, but I don't think I have the motivation in that area to produce anything epic right now.  The Cobbler reminded me that I'm a great wife and mother, although it's my nature question that daily.  When the kids are driving me out of my mind, of course I'm wondering if I'm doing the right thing!  My bucket list has been pretty much checked off.  I did all the skydiving, hot air ballooning, and European travelling I wanted to do before we had kids.  So what now?  That's what I'm going to be considering over the next few weeks.  I am glad to be doing what I'm doing.  I'm grateful for my life.  To steal a quote from The Art of Forgetting:

"Oh Marissa," Julia said, sounding almost weary.  "You're so lucky.  And one day you'll realize it.  But I think luck isn't nearly as important as what you decide to do with it."

So it's time for me to decide --- what am I going to make of my luck?
What are you going to make of yours?


Robin McCormack said...

Interesting how a blast from the past gets you thinking. We had a few in our high school who went on to be celebrities. Do I want to be like them, no. A new year always has us looking at what we've accomplished and hope to accomplish. Have fun making up new goals and dreams.

chereemoore said...

I can completely relate with you. I had a friend publish her first book last year, My (not so) Storybook Life. It is a great little book, but made me a little depressed that I hadn't done something more worthwhile with my life. So I have been trying really hard to focus on being grateful for the things I have done and work towards new goals.

Sorry to hear about your illness and I hope your health improves.

Anyways this sounds like an interesting book.