Memento Nora by Angie Smibert
“A teen struggles to hold onto her memories–and her identity–in a world that wants everyone to forget–and keep on shopping. Three dynamic teens come together to create a comic book of their memories.” ~from GoodReads.com
Nora James is into having “glossy” days: ones spent shopping for the latest trends, watching her favorite shows, and spending time with friends just like her. So when she witnesses an event that won’t leave her mind, she wants to go back to being glossy–by going, as so many do, to a Therapeutic Forgetting Clinic (or TFC). Only once she’s there, she decides she doesn’t want to forget. This decision leads her to find different friends and learn truths about the world around her–scary things. With the help of new friends Micah and Winter, she embarks on a project to write these truths. Thus, an underground comic called “Memento” (meaning “remember”) is born.
This slim novel charts the path of the three main characters, Nora, Micah, and Winter, in turn. Despite the grim reality of the world around the teens, Smibert inserts flashes of humor and also a celebration–of art and its power to heal and to revolutionize. The underground comic is a notable example, but there is also sculpture, architecture, graffiti and tattoo art. Reading this book made me want to read more about these types of expression, and make more of it, too.
All three of the main characters are compelling and very different from one another. Yet as the book progresses we see factors that tie them together, as each sees the way the other lives and thinks. This is often showed through the sharing of memories. As a reader, I pondered my own memories, and how it has felt to share the more traumatic ones with others. It has often left me feeling more whole, and closer to the person with whom I’ve shared. In Memento Nora‘s world of forgetting, there would be no such cathartic moments. There would be no real therapeutic times–just a pill to take the bad thoughts away.
As a person with PTSD (Posttraumatic Stress Disorder), I had to think very hard about whether I’d want a pill to forget. PTSD has harsh symptoms like nightmares, flashbacks, and acute anxiety. There are days when these symptoms are strong, when I know the temptation to go to a Therapeutic Forgetting Clinic would be a terrible struggle. However, my memories–even the traumatic ones–are also what helps me to understand myself and others. Without that, I’d just be…glossy. Without cares, but also without the capacity to be truly caring.
Memento Nora is a dystopian book that has at its heart the meaning of friendship. The meaning of what it takes to care about people and the world around you. I personally loved it, and since it’s to be a trilogy, am ready for more!
Think the world of Memento Nora is far away? Take a look at this article from MSNBC:
“Pill Could Help You Forget Bad Memories”