Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Review: "Love Anthony" by Lisa Genova

Olivia's life was turned upside down when her son, Anthony, was diagnosed with autism at the age of three. Suddenly her dreams of her son playing baseball or graduating high school or getting married are replaced with far simpler ones: Olivia would be happy if Anthony could learn to say "I love you" to her or if he could cuddle with her like other boys his age. When a tragic circumstance takes Anthony's life, Olivia and husband David suddenly find that they are too far apart to make their marriage work anymore. Olivia retreats to their cottage in Nantucket to heal and to figure out what the purpose of her son's short life was.

Beth's life seems so perfect that it is almost clich├ęd. Married with three daughters, her life is shattered when she finds out that her husband Jimmy has been cheating on her for months. She immediately requests that he move out and then is struck with the sudden realization that she has lost herself. Beth has no idea who she is as a person. Determined to find out who she is, Beth begins to write creatively and is as surprised as anyone when a story emerges that she doesn't have the power to ignore.

Olivia and Beth's lives collide in an unexpected way as both women search for answers that seem elusive but are just beyond their fingertips.

I was first introduced to the writing of Lisa Genova when I picked up a copy of her book Still Alice. I loved it, and I found myself drawn into the book in a way that few authors have been able to draw me in. Love Anthony is Genova's third release and while I really enjoyed it, I feel that it lacked the power that her debut novel had.

I loved the characters of both Beth and Olivia and I empathized with them both from the beginning. Often when a book is written from dual points of view I feel more for one character than the other, but I felt drawn to both of these damaged yet resilient women. Genova certainly has a talent for creating realistic and relatable characters. I also felt that the subject of the book was interesting and relevant and learning more about Anthony's autism was eye-opening.

That being said, there was an aspect of the book that was too far-fetched for me. I don't care to spoil it for anyone else but the way that Olivia comes to understand more about her son Anthony and his purpose in life took away from the rest of the book in my opinion. I think that there were alternate ways that the same thing could have been achieved that would have been more believable.

The many things that I enjoyed about the book were able to balance out the one thing that I didn't enjoy, and Love Anthony was a very enjoyable ready for me. Genova handles the topic of autism in a way that is both respectful and sensitive and I look forward to her next novel.

1 comment: