Rummanah Aasi
   I'm absolutely delighted to participate in a blog tour for Miranda Kenneally's latest release, Things I Can't Forget. Many thanks to Sourcebooks for allowing me to part of this blog tour and to read an advanced reader's copy of the book via Netgalley. Be sure to stop by tomorrow for my review of the book! Below is a guest post by Miranda on what inspired her to write Things I Can't Forget

“Why Different Beliefs and Values Fascinate Me”

When I was sixteen, one of my closest friends got pregnant. At the time, I certainly hadn’t agreed with her decision to have sex, especially with a guy who wasn’t her boyfriend, but she was still my friend, so I wanted to stick by her. A lot of kids at my school ridiculed her and made fun of her, especially guys. I remember being shocked that one boy was particularly hurtful to her, and I couldn’t understand it because I knew he was trying to convince another friend of mine to have sex. The whole situation was crazy, especially when other kids started teasing me for being friends with a girl who was pregnant.

Still, I knew I had to stand by her, so I spoke to a woman at my church and we found a special home my friend could go away to so she could have the baby, put it up for adoption, and stay in school. My friend ended up never coming back to my high school.

I was proud of the decision I had made, to help my friend and stay by her. A couple years later, when I was 18 and still in high school, the same friend got pregnant again. This time by a different guy. And this time, she wanted to have an abortion. Her parents refused to help her, so my friend turned to me again. She didn’t need money, but she needed someone to drive her to the abortion clinic and bring her home after.

I was so pissed at her. I knew her parents wouldn’t let her go on birth control (!!!), but I’d told her to buy condoms. Still, this was a friend who had stuck by me through high school and had been my friend even when she was much more popular and prettier than me, but ultimately I decided I couldn’t help her. It wasn’t that I was against abortion – honestly, I’d never much thought about it, but I worried what other people would say if they found out I helped her get an abortion. My parents would be pissed. Kids at school would tease me again, just like when my friend got pregnant the first time. My church would be totally upset.

I had no thoughts of my own.

My friend found someone else to help her. She paid some random man to drive her there and back, which was totally unsafe. Our friendship kind of dissolved after that, but I often still think about what happened.

What if I had helped my friend? To this day, I don’t know if I made the right decision or not. At the time, it was a decision made based mostly on other people’s beliefs, not my own. Today, I probably would do whatever a friend asked of me, regardless of what I believe. It’s not my decision to make.

Things I Can't Forget, my third book, is about a girl named Kate, a devout Christian, who makes a decision to help her friend get an abortion, and afterwards she has to deal with the guilt and the resulting fall-out of their friendship. This book isn’t autobiographical at all – I was never as devout as Kate, but I feel this book gave me the opportunity to explore the guilt and to show that “your truth isn’t necessarily everyone else’s truth.”

I know that a lot of readers were shocked when I decided to include religion in my books Stealing Parker  and Things I Can't Forget (this will be my final book that explores religion), but religion is a big part of people’s lives here in America. The last census said that 78% of Americans claim they are Protestant. I wouldn’t call myself a Christian – I haven’t been to church in 12 years, but I still often think about what I believe, and I want teenagers and readers of all ages to know they can believe whatever they want to believe, regardless of what their parents and friends say. You need to make your own decisions.

Things I Can't Forget also aims to show that you can be friends with people who don’t necessarily believe what you believe, whether it’s about your idea of heaven, or Coke vs. Pepsi, or Mets vs. Yankees. This book is all about a willingness to be open.

If I could go back in time to my 18-year-old self, I wouldn’t tell myself whether or not I should help my friend get an abortion. I’d tell myself to do what I know in my heart to be right.

 Thank you for sharing, Miranda! Things I Can't Forget is such a thought provoking journey of self discovery. I thoroughly enjoyed it and I really hope you all check it out! Things I Can't Forget will be published on April 1st, 2013 by Sourcebooks. 

Kate has always been the good girl. Too good, according to some people at school—although they have no idea the guilty secret she carries. But this summer, everything is different…

This summer she’s a counselor at Cumberland Creek summer camp, and she wants to put the past behind her. This summer Matt is back as a counselor too. He’s the first guy she ever kissed, and he’s gone from a geeky songwriter who loved The Hardy Boys to a buff lifeguard who loves to flirt--with her.

Kate used to think the world was black and white, right and wrong. Turns out, life isn’t that easy…
9 Responses
  1. What a great guest post. As I said in my review of the book, I really respect Miranda for discussing religion in her books and for making it even handed.

  2. A really brilliant great post! I think religion plays a much larger role in the US than the UK (certainly where Christianity is concerned, at least), so I can understand Miranda's reasons for including a religious aspect in Stealing Parker and Things I Can't Forget. Thanks for sharing such an interesting post with us. :)

  3. I loved this book and I love Miranda. I know religion is such a touchy subject to tackle and I think she did an excellent job with it. Thanks for sharing this interesting post today. My take: Religion is personal and different for everyone. Respect each other's beliefs and don't force your values on someone else :)

  4. Great post! I read and LOVED this book and was happy to see that there was religion in it but also that the main character was able to see that her beliefs weren't necessarily the only beliefs. It was definitely one of my favorite 2013 books so far!

  5. Candace Says:

    I actually teared up a bit over this post. I think that would be a very hard call to make. I would certainly be very frustrated with her and I'm not sure I could stand by and deal with it again myself.
    I'm really looking forward to reading this book!

  6. I like books that don't force you to choose a religion or beliefs. Not all of us believe the same thing. Interesting post. Very interesting.


  7. I really enjoyed this post and I love it when (contemporary) books have at least some small root in reality. I realize this is not autobiographical, but it was partly inspired by something and that means a lot.
    Being a friend is often very hard and I think I'll enjoy a book that shows the hardest side of friendship.
    Thank you for sharing, ladies!

  8. Awesome guest post! It's so thought provoking, and it was interesting to hear how Things I Can't Forget was inspired by something that Kenneally personally dealt with in high school.

  9. Anonymous Says:

    Wow, this is such a great guest post! I can't believe this same scenario happened to Miranda in high school. Caring about other people's beliefs and judgments, especially in a small town, is what a lot of teens face, whether the judgment is directed at them or their friends. It's a difficult situation for sure, and there are no easy answers. Thanks so much for sharing this!

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