The Divining Wand

Discovering authors beyond their pages…

Camille Noe Pagán and The Art of Forgetting

May 30, 2011 By: larramiefg Category: Book Presentations, Books

Camille Noe Pagán’s debut novel The Art of Forgetting — with its stunning cover and intriguing title — bows down from bookstore shelves next Thursday, June 9, 2011.

The book, based on a seemingly simple premise of forever friends, is actually a complex, multi-layered tale that both fascinates, frustrates, and fills a reader with questions to what it means to be or who is a friend?

The idea for the storyline came first from the author’s desire to write a book about the nitty-gritty of female friendships and then combine aspects of what she had learned from writing a magazine article about brain injuries. For example, brain injuries are very common — yet very overlooked — in young women and even a relatively minor trauma can have a drastic impact on one’s personality.

Of course what makes Camille’s novel ring true are the well-defined characters that she’s created. Her two main friends, including every one of the supporting cast, are believable in their intentions and motivations….in other words, they’re humanly flawed. Here’s the synopsis for The Art of Forgetting:

Forgive and forget—but not necessarily in that order.

Marissa Rogers never wanted to be an alpha; beta suited her just fine, thank you very much. After all, taking charge without taking credit had always paid off: vaulting her to senior editor at a glossy diet magazine; allowing her to keep the peace with her critical, weight-obsessed mother; and enjoying the benefits that came with being best friends with gorgeous, charismatic Julia Ferrar.

Sure, coming up with 15 different ways to lose five pounds month after month could be mind-numbing. And yes, Julia was a walking, talking reminder that Marissa would never be the type to turn heads. So what? There was no reason to upend her perfect-on-paper life.

But when Julia is hit by a cab and suffers a personality-altering brain injury, Marissa has no choice but step into the role of alpha friend. As Julia struggles to regain her memory—dredging up things Marissa would rather forget, including the fact that Julia asked her to abandon the love of her life 10 years ago—and to return to the sharp, magnetic woman she once was, their friendship is shaken to the core.

With the help of 12 girls she reluctantly agrees to coach in an after-school running program, Marissa will uncover an inner confidence she never knew she possessed and find the courage to reexamine her past and take control of her future.

The Art of Forgetting is a story about the power of friendship, the memories and self-created myths that hold us back from our true potential, and most of all, the delicate balance between forgiving and forgetting.

The Praise is here and a highly recommended Excerpt — Chapter One. Although a brief chapter, this is the introduction and set-up to the tale.

For it’s in those first few pages that the accident occurs and the lives of both friends change forever. Also, by jumping right into the action, the author makes certain that Julia is only known and described primarily through Marissa’s perspective. Camille intentionally did this because she believed, “[it] would help readers understand both Marissa’s loyalty and frustration towards Julia as a person.”

And learning the truth about this friendship is at the heart of this story. With major kudos to the author, The Art of Forgetting is not a tear-jerker, not at all. While Marissa feels/displays genuine empathy and a sadness that Julia will never be the same again, the accident loosens their bond enough to allow Marissa to see her friend objectively. She grieves the loss, accepts what was, and hesitantly moves on. What friendships give — or what we let them take — is not always for the best. Without *spoilers*, it can be told that Marissa forgave her friend and herself, forgot what hurt had been done, and forged a new equal friendship with Julia.

Because, yes, Julia — pre/post-injury — is a controversial character, even a dangerous one at times. However, since she still needed to be somewhat likable, how did Camille handle that fine line? She says:

“A few (early) readers have said they wished Julia had been more likable, but for me, it was crucial to show just how dangerous and reckless her charisma—the very thing that made her likable to others!—could be. I do think that those closest to Marissa were most able to see Julia’s flaws, because they were looking out for Marissa’s best interests. In my mind, the outside world, including Julia’s colleagues and circle of friends, weren’t really privy to her dangerous, unlikable side until after her accident.”

The themes of forgiving, forgetting, friendship, and embracing one’s own self-worth are interwoven with each other throughout the novel. Yet what is its message? According to this debut author, “the novel’s message is that friendship is an ongoing choice with participation of both people involved. Even in an uneven friendship…. ”

The Art of Forgetting is a gorgeous novel telling a story of individuals who are who they are — real people as imperfect as we all are. And it felt appropriate for The Divining Wand to ask Camille Noe Pagán what she would like readers to know first and foremost about her debut?

“I think that readers, even those who don’t know me, will assume that I am Marissa. She and I share many things in common—our professional backgrounds, of course, and to some degree, our insecurities. Yet writing Forgetting led me to the realization that I’ve got a dose of Julia in me, too; I think most of us do. I’ve had a few friendships fall apart (who hasn’t?!) and I often blamed the other person for one reason rather than looking at my own role. Forgetting gave me a better understanding of just how complex friendships are. Just like marriage, both parties are almost always involved in damaging or disintegrating the relationship.

Writing Forgetting also made me a better friend. As a writer, I examined the motivation of every single one of my characters, which gave me a great deal of empathy for each of them–even my villains. No surprise, I began looking at the real people in my life with more empathy, too.”

The Art of Forgetting — truly beautiful inside and out — can be yours next week. Enjoy!

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Announcement: The winners of Fourth Grade Fairy by Eileen Cook are Kate Ledger, Dee, and Tiffany D.. Congratulations!

Please email diviningwand (at) gmail (dot) com with your mailing address and your book will be sent out promptly.

Book Giveaway: The Divining Wand is giving away one copy of The Art of Forgetting by Camille Noe Pagán in a random drawing of comments left only on this specific post. Comments left on other posts during the week will not be eligible. The deadline is Wednesday, June 1, 2011 at 7:00 p.m. EDT with the winners to be announced here in Thursday’s post. If you enter, please return Thursday to see if you’re a winner.

Eileen Cook’s Fourth Grade Fairy

May 26, 2011 By: larramiefg Category: Book Presentations, Books

Truth be told, Eileen Cook (The Education of Hailey Kendrick YA, What Would Emma Do? YA, Getting Revenge on Lauren Wood YA, and Unpredictable) is among The Divining Wand’s most popular authors with her positive, common sense, and humor-filled storytelling for all ages. Case in point is Eileen’s latest book, Fourth Grade Fairy, the first of three middle school novels. (The second in this series, Wishes for Beginners will be released on June 14, 2011 followed by the third and final novel, Gnome Invasion available on August 16, 2011.)

Since this Fairy Godmother feels connected to any age fairy — especially one in training — I asked the author what sparked this magical idea? And Eileen said:

“I wish I knew! I knew I wanted to write a book for younger readers and the character of Willow came to mind. I couldn’t imagine anything more fun that someone who could talk to animals and do magic — especially since what she wants most of all is to be “‘normal.'” Willow’s world complete with sarcastic dogs, dragon farms, and flying was so much fun to play in as a writer.”

“I would love to write more middle grade books. I’m chatting with my editor about different ideas and hope to settle on something soon. Keep a little room on your shelf — I’ll do my best to fill it!”

In the meantime, let’s enjoy this fourth grade fairy who happily agreed to introduce herself through an abbreviated Q&A. Here’s Willow:

Q: Please describe your life in 8 words?
A: Complicated, busy, sometimes unfair, friends, exciting, interesting, lucky and magical!

Q; What is your motto?
A: The best magic is a best friend.

Q: What is your perfect happiness?
A: Rubbing a dog belly.

Q: What are you afraid of?
A: Gnomes. Their tiny little hands are kinda creepy.

Q: If you could have another magical power, what would you want it to be?
A: Make my older-know-it-all sister disappear.

Q: What is your greatest achievement?
A: Saving my sister’s life even though I would have been completely justified in letting her being eaten by a lizard. Also, I have the coolest best friend ever.

Q: What’s your best quality?
A: I am not afraid to try and solve my own problems, it might be better for me to ask for help sometimes, but you can’t be perfect at everything.

Q: What really annoys you?
A: Unicorns. Everyone thinks they are great, but they can be snotty. They like to toss you off if you try and ride them and then they come over and poke you with their horn when you are on the ground.

Q: If you could eat only one thing for the rest of your days, what would it be?
A: Chocolate chip toffee cookies from Enchanted Sugar bakery.

Almost “normal,” isn’t she? 🙂

Here’s the Fourth Grade Fairy synopsis:

All Willow Doyle wants is to be normal, to fit in at her new school, and to have a best friend. But there’s no way Willow will ever be normal. There isn’t anything normal about her or the Doyle family.

Willow comes from a long line of fairy godmothers and she’s expected to be one too when the time comes. (At the moment she’s merely sprite status.) Maybe that would be cool if it were like the old days when the humans — known as humdrums — knew fairy godmothers existed and the fairies didn’t have to keep their fairy status secret. Now they’re stuck helping humans who don’t even believe in them. Rather than help normals, Willow would rather be human. She’s sick of being weird.

When she’s given the chance to attend a humdrum elementary school for two weeks, this is Willow’s chance to finally experience a normal life — but will she be able to fit in? And can she find her best friend there, even if her parents discourage making friends with humans?

Also, as a reluctant fairy-in-training, can she keep her newly acquired powers a secret? Or, perhaps more importantly, can she get along with her older sister?

Take a brief peek from Chapter One:

Why having an older sister is a pain:
She never lets you touch her stuff

She bosses you around all the time

She acts like they know everything

Your parents will let them do all kinds of things that you aren’t allowed to do

She get all the new outfits and you have to wear hand-me-downs (even though her favorite color is green, which you hate)

I can think of a lot more reasons, but I would need more paper. Everyone is always surprised to find out Lucinda is my sister. This is because never has stuff spilled on her shirt and her hair never sticks up. She always remembers to say thank you, please, and excuse me. My sister always has her homework done on time, she never snorts when she laughs. Oh, and she can fly.

My sister is a pain.

Willow has become popular in the past five weeks since her story’s been in bookstores as fans write snail mail to Ms. Eileen Cook c/o Simon & Schuster.

Of course that’s just the envelope. According to the author, the actual letter was covered in crayoned hearts. Her reaction? “I love it. I keep it on my desk. All writers are in love with their readers. We so appreciate that people take the time to read our books, especially given how many great books are out there. The best thing about writing for teens and young readers is that they love to reach out to their favorite writers.”

Fourth Grade Fairy is fun, charming, and gives a slight nod to the supernatural books that adolescents are reading….without the scary elements, of course. Instead it’s pure magic mixed in with human (humdrum) life.

It’s delightful and the book’s message is told in Eileen’s ultimate wish for Willow:

“What I wish for Willow (and for so many others out there) is that they learn to love who they are and what makes them special instead of focusing on how they feel they don’t fit in or match up to what is “‘normal.'” Normal is way overrated.”

Now how much would any young girl you know love to spend the summer with the Fourth Grade Fairy? Willow welcomes all human friends!

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Book Giveaway: The Divining Wand is giving away three copies of Fourth Grade Fairy by Eileen Cook in a random drawing of comments left only on this specific post. Comments left on other posts during the week will not be eligible. The deadline is Sunday, May 29, 2011 at 7:00 p.m. EDT with the winners to be announced here in Monday’s post. If you enter, please return Monday to see if you’re a winner.

Announcement: The winner of The Arrivals by Meg Mitchell Moore is jennifer downing. Congratulations!

Please email diviningwand (at) gmail (dot) com with your mailing address and your book will be sent out promptly.