Love Anthony by Lisa Genova
Published April 2, 2013
Trade Paperback, 336 pages
After reading Lisa Genova’s previous two books--Still Alice that deals with Alzheimer’s Disease and Left Neglected that deals with traumatic brain injury--I knew I wanted to read Love Anthony, a story that deals with an autistic boy. Neuroscience is a topic I’m fascinated with, and Genova, a Harvard-trained neuroscientist, writes fiction inspired by her field of work.
Love Anthony is essentially a story about two women, each at crossroards in their life, whose lives change because of the connection to an autistic boy. Olivia is mourning the loss of her son Anthony, a boy who had autism. She retreats to Nantucket Island alone, desperate to find the meaning of her son’s life. Beth, also living in Nantucket, is a wife and mother of three girls, who just discovered her husband Jimmy is cheating on her.
The chapters alternates between the stories of both women. Both stories had elements that appealed to me as a woman and mother. I could empathize with Olivia and my heart broke for her as she relives some of her best and worst moments with Anthony. I felt terrible for Beth because of her situation. I liked reading about Anthony and learning about what it might feel like to have autism. The book’s beginning and ending were very good, but I felt the story dragged at time somewhere in the middle. I felt Beth’s story was too detailed and there could have been less of it and more of Anthony.
Also, the ending left me with mixed feelings. Beth begins to write a book and it’s written from the perspective of an autistic boy. It’s strongly suggested that it’s actually Anthony communicating to his mother through Beth, you know, channeling. I really wish this hadn’t been implied. Why add a paranormal element to a story that was fine without it? However, this is mentioned at the very end of the novel, and is a short scene. It’s really the story of Anthony that made me enjoy this book. I was touched by him and was crying at one point when Olivia recalls how he dies. I have a son who is ten and could not imagine losing him.
The setting on the island of Nantucket is so prominent that it becomes a character, making the reader truly feel the isolation and bleakness of winters there. Genova’s description of island life is beautiful and I could imagine it so clearly in my mind.
This story truly made me more empathetic toward families who have children with autism. It made me understand the difficulties and challenges that come with raising children who are different and may not speak, give eye contact or want to be touched. I look forward to seeing what else Genova chooses to write about that will make her readers more compassionate.
Note: This book is rated P = Profanity (mild) for a few f-words and S = sexual content for a brief sex scene (not explicit).
Reviewed by Laura
Disclosure: I bought this book and was not told how to rate or review this product.