by Camille Noe Pagan

Dutton, $25.95, 292 pages

Can friendship survive any obstacle? Camille Noe Pagan answers this in her debut novel The Art of Forgetting. It’s a classic power struggle. Marissa and Julia have been friends since high school in Michigan, but the outgoing Julia has always taken center stage. The ballerina always flaunted her magnetic personality and ten years ago used her womanly charms to woo away Marissa’s boyfriend. Marissa always played second fiddle to her flirtatious friend. Now, the senior magazine editor seems bored with life and most of her stagnated relationships. Both worlds are about to turn upside down.

When Julia is hit by a taxi and experiences a brain injury that changes her personality and memory, the division of power resurfaces with new problems as Julia insists on reuniting Marissa with former boyfriend, Nathan.

Two other plot points are woven into the back-story. One is an ever-growing resentment between Marissa and her overbearing mother. Susan resembles Momzilla, waiting to attack her daughter’s every move and shredding every ounce of confidence. The second features Marissa’s involvement with a volunteer organization that teaches self-confidence. It’s the true boost Marissa needs in her life.

For the most part, this touching story should resonate with friends who’ve had their friendships put to the best. At times, it’s a bit windy, but the themes of forgiveness and forgetting are strong.

LuAnn Schindler