Still Alice and Left Neglected, both stories that explore neurological disorders, and Love Anthony was nearly as good. I say “nearly” because it didn’t hold the same medical fascination nor seem quite as emotionally wrenching as the first two novels did for me, although it does involve the death of a child. But it was still excellent. I plowed through it in one day at the beach. I gave it to my friend Caroline to read as soon as I finished. After a day she handed me the book, wiping away tears, and said, "I don't think it's very nice for a friend to make a friend cry at the beach!" While she was crying, her sister called and asked why she was crying, then asked to borrow the book as well. Why do we like to cry so much?
The story focuses on two women: Olivia, whose autistic son has just died, and Beth, whose life unexpectedly unravels. They have little in common on the surface. The past eight years of Olivia’s life were wrapped up in the frustration and sadness of having a son with severe autism. Beth, on the other hand, seems to be one of those women that Olivia so despises: mothers with “normal” children.
But their paths cross, and they end up unintentionally healing together, although in separate ways. I can’t really reveal more of the hows and whys without giving away the plot, but Genova treats autism with respect and a beautiful understanding. I think the chapters that are devoted to Olivia and the pain of her motherhood are especially powerful.
Genova is a brilliant writer, and I’m always impressed at the way she shares her medical knowledge without ever seeming didactic or as if she’s just throwing information in for the sake if it. I can’t wait for her next novel!