Saturday, November 10, 2012
Love Anthony by Lisa Genova
Like in her prior novels, Genova, a neuroscientist with a PhD from Harvard, focuses on trying to get inside the mind of someone whose brain works differently. In this case it's Anthony, a boy with autism. The story is told from the perspective of two women on Nantucket, Olivia, whose autistic son Anthony died at age 10 from a brain injury incurred in the course of a seizure. Olivia has separated from her husband when their marriage could not survive the tragedy and has moved to Nantucket to escape the memories. The other woman is Beth, who is enduring her own marital difficulties and returns to writing to cope. She coincidentally writes the tale of an autistic boy named Anthony, from Anthony's perspective. When she's finished she shares the manuscript with Olivia who is certain Beth has channeled her son since the story is too close to his to be a coincidence. She encourages Beth to rework the ending to answer the question that's haunting her - what purpose did Anthony's short life serve. And somehow the revised ending to the novel brings welcome closure for both Beth and Olivia. I have no idea how accurate the portrayal of autism is, but the book is an interesting read. It has it's sad parts but, for me, was not as frightening as Still Alice's exploration of Alzheimer's disease.