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That's What She Read

The Art of Forgetting

The Art of Forgetting - Camille Noe Pagan The back cover of The Art of Forgetting states that this is a story about the power of friendship and the importance of love. This description is slightly misleading, for it is not so much a story about the power of friendship but rather a journey of self-discovery. Marissa not only discovers what true friendship truly means, but more importantly, she discovers her own strength and destiny. The love of one's self is ultimately at the heart of this thoughtful novel.One's enjoyment of The Art of Forgetting hinges on the reader's engagement with and sympathy towards Marissa and Julia. This, however, is contingent on one's experiences growing up and the friendships made during the formative years. In my opinion, Marissa is easy to like. She is the ugly duckling to Julia's swan, the supportive friend always there when needed, always putting others' needs before her own. She is the character to which a majority of readers can relate, having been in similar situations themselves. Julia, in my opinion, is not likable at all. She is needy, demanding, and the epitome of a bad friend. This inability to sympathize with Julia's plight makes it a difficult to enjoy the story.Friendship, what makes it last and what makes it a strong relationship, drives much of Marissa's struggle to adapt to Julia's accident, and the reader is swept along Marissa's search. What makes one a best friend? How are friends supposed to act towards each other? I may be projecting my own opinions of friendship, but for my own part, I never understand the fascination with Julia. Why would anyone allow their best friend to make certain demands of them and give into those demands, no matter how asinine? To me, best friends do not do these things, and my inability to understand why Marissa would accept such behaviors from Julia for so long truly did taint my reaction to the story. I simply could not buy into their friendship.Only when Marissa is on her own, searching her own feelings, forming other relationships, and out from under Julia's thumb does The Art of Forgetting begins to shine, and shine it does. There is a down-to-earth element to Marissa that is refreshing and absolutely enjoyable. She is not wealthy, and she struggles with her weight. She has a job that requires her to work long hours, and she comes home and unwinds by watching TV. Her career has stagnated, and she faces a crossroads in her relationship with her boyfriend. Her problems are everyone's problems, which makes her the type of character any reader can wholeheartedly support.Ms. Pagan does a great job of making a reader think. Love her or hate her, Julia's actions force the reader to assess his or her own definition of friendship and the idea of forgiveness. However, The Art of Forgetting leaves its mark on the reader through Marissa. Her introspection and willingness to take a chance ultimately changes her life, thereby setting an example for all readers who see themselves in her. There are lessons to be learned through Julia and through Marissa, and all have value. This is the true beauty of The Art of Forgetting.