What isn’t written, isn’t remembered. Even your crimes.
Nadia lives in the city of Canaan, where life is safe and structured, hemmed in by white stone walls and no memory of what came before. But every twelve years the city descends into the bloody chaos of the Forgetting, a day of no remorse, when each person’s memories – of parents, children, love, life, and self – are lost. Unless they have been written.
In Canaan, your book is your truth and your identity, and Nadia knows exactly who hasn’t written the truth. Because Nadia is the only person in Canaan who has never forgotten.
But when Nadia begins to use her memories to solve the mysteries of Canaan, she discovers truths about herself and Gray, the handsome glassblower, that will change her world forever. As the anarchy of the Forgetting approaches, Nadia and Gray must stop an unseen enemy that threatens both their city and their own existence – before the people can forget the truth. And before Gray can forget her.
This book may be titled The Forgetting but it was a really memorable read for me. Sharon Cameron writes the most delightful, refreshing and underrated stories, and I cannot recommend this book enough for people looking for an adventure that’ll broaden their outlook and is full of twists and turns. Nadia is an amazing character who is curious, loyal, thoughtful, and reflective – she’s always listening and observing. What she finds out about Canaan, the place she lives in, will change the world forever.
“Your books are your memories, who you are.”
At first we see Nadia hanging on the wall that surrounds the city of Canaan, which supposedly protects everyone from the dangers outside. She could be heavily punished for this stunt, and she hopes not to draw the attention of the councilmen who are conversing underneath her near the wall. When she finally starts heading home (to safety), this boy named Gray stops her… and demands her to take him outside the wall as well, or else he’ll tell the Council about what she did. Nadia reluctantly agrees, and thus ends our first encounter with the main characters. The city of Canaan is governed by the Council, who look over the people. There is no currency, and people are usually known for their trade; Nadia’s full name is technically Nadia the Dyer’s Daughter, as her mother as the Dyer. Is it a fantasy? A science fiction? That’s really open to interpretation in the beginning of the story, but readers will find out that there’s more to it.
A very important aspect of The Forgetting are the books that everyone wears around them. They record their memories and the truths of their lives in the books. Why? Because every 12 years, The Forgetting happens. It affects the body somehow and makes everyone forget their memories. Thus, people use their books as an anchor to remember who their family is, what their occupation is, etc. Only, what happens when someone starts messing with these books? Nadia has never forgotten her past, even though she’s already lived through one Forgetting. And she knows that the books of her family had been tampered with.
“I’ve been taught to write truth in my book since I was old enough to hold a pen. Our books are our sole identity after the Forgetting, the string that connects us to who we were before. The one thing we should never, ever be separated from. Don’t forget.”
Throughout her life, she seeks out answers to what exactly is the Forgetting and why whatever happened to her happened. That’s also what galvanizes her to climb beyond the walls – as well as finding all these different foods that she can take home to her family. There are also people called the Lost, who have no memories nor books and live as if they are lost. All these elements all help her figure out the bigger picture, which becomes uncovered as the next Forgetting draws near.
“What if the Forgetting doesn’t drain our memories away forever, like Rose pulling the plug in the basin, but only locks them up, like a book in a bathhouse cupboard? Could we unlock what’s inside our heads?”
The whole world was set up so effectively, and the revelations near the end are like an epiphany for the readers. It is very satisfying, and the whole message of the story really resonated with me. Cameron not only explores the hegemonic control that dictates people with invisible strings, but also the logic behind those people that are willing to be controlled like that. As Nadia and Gray get closer to discovering the secrets of Canaan, they also discover things about themselves that they would not have considered if it weren’t for this adventure.
The romance that develops is at a steady pace but ultimately so very lovely and satisfying. Nadia’s a pretty reticent character – she’s a girl of few words. While Gray is more outgoing and friendly – he’s the kind of guy that everyone likes and forgives. They make a pretty contrasting couple, but in the end they bring out the best of each other. Gray also has some secrets that readers will slowly uncover along with Nadia, but in the end they’re both people looking beyond the walls of their cities to somewhere unknown and waiting to be explored. They may seem like opposites, but they also have similar traits, such as their curiosity and open-mindedness. That’s part of what helps them discover the secrets in Canaan.
“He has chosen me. I have chosen him. I never thought I would choose. I never thought I would be chosen. And when he forgets me, if he forgets me, I just have to make sure he chooses me again.”
The Forgetting is definitely not a forgettable book, and the tantalizing plot and strong characters will definitely see to that. Nadia is a quiet girl, but the gears in her mind are constantly turning as she seeks to save her family and the ones she love around her. Gray is a bit of a mystery, but we get to know him more and see why he acts the way he does. The other side characters are all very well-written and provide added depth to the story, making it extremely three-dimensional. Finally, I can just imagine the setting in my mind – as well as the places beyond the wall that closes in on the people of Canaan. The question is: will they ever have the strength to push back beyond what they don’t know – or have forgotten? Science fiction and fantasy fans alike will enjoy this one, as Cameron strings readers along with a quick-paced story full of discoveries that not only change the characters, but the world around them.