Memento Nora

Twelve years have gone by since 9/11 and I can still clearly remember the images of people jumping from the Towers rather than burn.  My memories are just from watching the endless news loops on TV, and I wonder about the people who were actually there, who heard the thump as the bodies hit the ground, and the recovery teams who dug through the rubble and smelled the smoke and all the bodies.  How often do those people have nightmares or flashbacks of this traumatic event?  And what about our military, vets from WWII, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan? So many struggling with PTSD… what if all of these people could just take a pill and erase not all their memories, but just their memory of traumatic events?  That is the premise of Memento Nora by Angie Smibert.

In a time not too distant in the future, teenage Nora witnesses a bombing attack while shopping with her mother in the city, unfortunately not a rare occurrence in the time she is living in.  However, people who experience such events are able to go to a Therapeutic Forgetting Clinic where swallowing a little pill makes them forget the pain of events.  However, like anything that may have started with good intentions, there is a danger of the scope being expanding outside the spirit of the initial purpose.

While waiting for her turn in the clinic, Nora makes a connection to skateboarder Micah and ends up only pretending to swallow her pill, a choice which leads her to start noticing some disturbing things about her family life and the city she lives in.  She teams up with Micah and his brilliant but disturbed friend Winter to create cartoons of the things they don’t want to forget.  This act of creating mementos sets off a chain of events that put the teens in danger by a world that wants to make sure they forget some of the memories they retain that will reveal some very dark truths.

This book was fairly short and a quick and easy read.  I liked the premise a lot and how it raised some ethical and moral questions.   I wonder about the parents of the students killed in Newton, the soldiers, the witnesses on 9/11, etc.  and what choice they would make if they could take a pill to forget what they had experienced?     In a society where there seems to be a pill for most anything, is this one pill we should never develop?  Do our experiences and memories, even the bad ones, make us who we are?





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