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The Art of Forgetting by Camille Noe Pagan

picture of book cover

Friendships are always a balancing act—each person has a role, whether it’s providing a shoulder to cry on, remembering your past romantic mistakes, or being up for your latest harebrained activity. Sometimes you’re lucky enough to find a friend who fulfills all of these. In the The Art of Forgetting , Marisa and Julia are longtime soulmates.

Then a cab hits Julia, and her personality fundamentally changes as a result of a brain injury. Pagan, who has done her medical research, shows how the little things that result a TBI can throw the people we love off balance. Marisa discovers that Julia now loves cats and the color purple. Far more insidiously, she becomes focused around reuniting Marisa and a college love.

Pagan’s debut moves quickly, with chipper dialogue and enough twists and turns to keep the reader engaged. Sometimes the writing becomes trite, and the romantic subplot takes over, which distracts from the larger issue of Julia being, in the end, not that great a friend. Marisa never delves in too deeply as to whether she’s holding onto Julia because she sees her redeeming qualities or whether she feels sorry for her. Those caveats aside, ultimately The Art of Forgetting is a  warm, easy story about growing up and standing up for oneself. Recommended for those who like Jodi Picoult, Jennifer Weiner or Sarah Pekkanen.