Noth­ing For­got­ten

Foreword Reviews - - Reviews - RE­BECCA HUSSEY

Jes­sica Levine She Writes Press (APRIL) Soft­cover $16.95 (256pp) 978-1-63152-324-3

In Jes­sica Levine’s ab­sorb­ing and en­ter­tain­ing Noth­ing For­got­ten, a mid­dle-aged woman’s past in­trudes upon her present, de­spite all of her ef­forts to leave it be­hind.

Anna Stark leads a calm, seem­ingly happy life in Cal­i­for­nia. She has a hus­band, a daugh­ter, and a teach­ing job to fill her days, along with med­i­ta­tion. An un­ex­pected e-mail from Ser­gio, a lover from her early twen­ties, in­ter­rupts this ease.

Anna re­veals early on that she’d had a child and given it up for adop­tion; nei­ther Ser­gio nor her hus­band ever knew. Ser­gio’s e-mail sends Anna deep into her mem­o­ries, and the nar­ra­tive moves back to re­cap­ture her life in Italy in 1979.

These Ital­ian mem­o­ries take up about twothirds of the novel, and are its most cap­ti­vat­ing por­tions. The young Anna has a mean­ing­ful, sat­is­fy­ing job teach­ing English, but she also wants to ex­pe­ri­ence the plea­sures of Rome, and most of all to meet young men. That Ser­gio is her boss and en­gaged to be mar­ried only makes their re­la­tion­ship that much more en­joy­able. Against her bet­ter judg­ment, Anna meets and be­friends Ser­gio’s fi­ancée, and be­comes en­meshed in his small-town world.

Watch­ing Anna ne­go­ti­ate the com­plex­i­ties of her re­la­tion­ships and the ru­ral, pa­tri­ar­chal Ital­ian coun­try­side pro­vides both a com­pelling nar­ra­tive and an in­trigu­ing glimpse into an­other world. The Cal­i­for­nia sec­tions of Anna’s story are less fresh than the Ital­ian ones, though she re­mains a lay­ered and com­plex char­ac­ter. The pull that Ser­gio feels be­tween his am­bi­tions and his du­ties to his fam­ily are con­vinc­ingly and mov­ingly de­tailed. Levine’s writ­ing is sparkling and clear.

Noth­ing For­got­ten is an ex­am­ple of women’s fic­tion at its best. Its ex­plo­ration of his­tory, mem­ory, fam­ily, and the par­tic­u­lar strug­gles of women look­ing for ex­pe­ri­ences and love is en­joy­able, mem­o­rable, and thought-pro­vok­ing all at once.

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