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I'm trying to find the name and/or author of a story I read in the 1990s (I think) about a future where everyone takes 'memory loss' pills. It means you only remember three days of short term stuff, though you remember all the basic skills like talking and tying your shoelaces, and who your family is. If you don't take the pills you have to live in an exile community. This boy takes the pills, and is looking after a small shrub, but he doesn't know for how long he's been looking after it. Something like that.

Anyone read something even remotely like this and could point me in the right direction?

Much appreciated.

marked as duplicate by Jenayah, DavidW, TheLethalCarrot, Edlothiad, Dave Johnson Aug 21 at 20:49

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This description reminds me of “The Vandal” by Ann Schlee, published in 1979. This book won the Gaurdian’s Children’s Fiction Prize in 1980. It also features the forgetting, but it has a shrub as well.

The hero is a boy called “Paul”, the Vandal of the title. He lives in an ordered society, where order is maintained because everyone forgets all specific knowledge (people they know, but not how to speak etc.) after a few days, unless they are reminded. Each day ends with a ritual where the family drinks a special Drink, and destroys all papers “to avoid contamination”. But Paul has an urge to start fires.

There was also a shrub. Paul tries at one point to protect a plant - more of a weed than a shrub that is growing beside a bench, where it shouldn’t be growing. The council workers will kill it if they spot it. There always come by at the same time, so he has a chance to conceal it, by sitting on the bench each time they come round so they don't see it.

Eventually Paul is sent away. The end is quite strange.

  • That sounds like it. The weed is spot on. Forgot it was a drink not a pill, but otherwise sounds perfect. Do remember a very odd ending too. – Dono2000 Apr 30 '14 at 6:22
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It sounds kinda like "Memento Nora" by Angie Smibert;

Memento Nora

Nora, the popular girl and happy consumer, witnesses a horrific bombing on a shopping trip with her mother. In Nora’s near-future world, terrorism is so commonplace that she can pop one little white pill to forget and go on like nothing ever happened. However, when Nora makes her first trip to a Therapeutic Forgetting Clinic, she learns what her mother, a frequent forgetter, has been frequently forgetting. Nora secretly spits out the pill and holds on to her memories. The memory of the bombing as well as her mother’s secret and her budding awareness of the world outside her little clique make it increasingly difficult for Nora to cope. She turns to two new friends, each with their own reasons to remember, and together they share their experiences with their classmates through an underground comic. They soon learn, though, they can’t get away with remembering.

  • Thanks! I think my memory mixed this book with the Vandal. Cheers. – Dono2000 Apr 30 '14 at 6:21

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