Title: Love Anthony Author: Lisa Genova Publisher: Gallery Books (September 25, 2012) Format: Hardcover; Pgs 320 Genre: Fiction
I can understand why people did not like this book the way that they loved her previous novels. There is no humor in this book – ok, maybe short snippets here and there, but no sections where you know that you should not be laughing but you are.
This book hits on serious subjects. The loss of a child, broken marriages, anger at what was and what could have been.
Beth is dealing with the loss of a marriage. A card arrives in the mail telling her that her husband is having an affair.
Olivia is grieving the loss of her son Anthony, a boy with autism who suddenly dies at the age of eight. A marriage that could not handle the strain and a life that could not be fixed.
We have pills for headaches. We have antidepressants for sadness. We have God for believers. We have nothing for autism.
As the two women try to put their lives in order they have to deal with what life is now throwing at them. Olivia the death of her son and the end of her marriage. Beth the shock of her husband's adulterous affair and the rebuilding of a life for both her and her daughters.
Olivia has given up her belief in God when there were no answers for Anthony, but now on Nantucket Island she finds herself in constant dialogue with Him. Asking her questions and waiting for answers. Her self-imposed sabbatical on the island was her way to disconnect, a way for her to seek answers that she seeks.
For Beth, Jimmy is now trying to walk right back into the family that he so easily walked out on. A card ended their marriage, now a card handed to her should change everything back. What does she owe to herself and to her daughters? In trying to regain herself, she begins writing again. Slowly and unsure at first, but then suddenly a bud appears. She remembers a moment from her past, about a little boy, and now that memory is speaking to her.
Being on a small island makes it inevitable that the two women will bump into each other. How was Olivia to know that Beth held her answers? The answers that only Anthony could give to her.
There are intensely sad moments in this book – when Olivia is talking with the priest and in a way getting the answers that she seeks.
Marriage is about mutual power and mutual trust—you’re always at the mercy of the people that you are in a relationship with.
In a way, there is a happily ever after feel to this book. The coincidence seems a bit farfetched, but I have to admit that I was not fully vested in this book until the end. I was looking for humor, but what I found was heartbreak. Not that that is a bad thing, the storyline of Beth and Olivia’s personal challenges rang true - how the book found its way into existence was a bit of a hiccup for me.
Maybe others will see it differently, but one thing is for sure, Lisa Genova's books this will stay with me for a long time.