Luanne Ollivier's Reviews > Love Anthony

Love Anthony by Lisa Genova
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Sep 25, 2012

it was amazing
Read in September, 2012

I've been regularly putting out Lisa Genova's last book, Left Neglected, as one of my staff picks. It's usually signed out by someone the very same day. And when I check it in, I put it right back out. I've been waiting for another book from Genova. (and so have lots of my patrons!)

Well the wait is over. Love Anthony releases today - and boy oh boy, was the wait worth it! Another absolutely fantastic read from this New York Times best selling author.

Genova sets her latest book in Nantucket. It's the story of two women, whose lives connect in a way they couldn't imagine.

Olivia has retreated to the island - she and her husband have separated after the death of their son autistic son Anthony. Olivia is struggling with her grief and is still trying to understand and give meaning to her son's short life.

"She scoured every self-help book, then every medical journal, every memoir, every blog, every online parent support network. She read Jenny McCarthy and the Bible. She read and hoped and prayed and believed in anything claiming help, rescue, reversal, salvation. Somebody somewhere must know something. Somebody must have the key that would unlock her son."

Another island resident, Beth, is also struggling. Her husband of fifteen years and father to her three daughters has been having an affair for the last year. They too have separated. With her life turned upside down, Beth is also looking for answers.

"But who is she? She's Jimmy's wife, and she's a mother. And if she gets divorced, if she's no longer Mrs. James Ellis, and she's only a mother, then is there less of her? She fears this and feels it already, physically, as if a surgeon has taken a scalpel to her abdomen and removed a whole and necessary part of her. Without Jimmy, she doesn't recognize herself. How can that be? Whom has she become?"

And what connects the two? Anthony. In a very unusual way.

Genova has an amazing way with words. Her portrayal of Beth and Olivia was so realistic, I could imagine myself curled on their couches, listening to them try to work through things. Olivia's journals were especially poignant. Genova's exploration of marriage, motherhood, love and loss is so authentic. The island setting sprang to life with her details. The description of Anthony's stones was palpable and I will never look at a smooth white stone at the beach quite the same.

Anthony's 'voice' was truly wonderful. Genova's exploration and imagining of a non verbal autistic child's thoughts was by turns heartbreaking and heartwarming. As Genova holds a PhD in neuroscience, I like to think that she's not too far from the truth. I think readers will view autism with new eyes and understanding after reading this book.

Some of the coincidences might seem a bit too serendipitous for some readers, but didn't detract from the story for me. For, it is a story - but on the other hand, who says such things couldn't happen?

Genova caught me from the opening chapters and held me rapt until I turned the last page. The final chapters had me reaching for the tissue box. And really, past that, as I thought about Love Anthony long after I finished.

This is one that will be on my staff picks for a quite a while. (until I replace it with the fourth book Genova is working on.)
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