“Love Anthony,” the new novel by Lisa Genova, is every bit as good as her two previous novels, “Still Alice” and “Left Neglected.”
Once again a medical issue threads its way through the lives of her characters: Olivia is dealing with the death of her autistic son, Anthony.
Anthony’s autism was diagnosed when he was 3. From then on, Olivia spent every moment working with him, researching potential therapies and treatments, loving him and trying to help him to be the happy child he should be.
This left little time to spend alone with her husband and when they did talk it was usually to fight. Now, separated from her husband and with Anthony gone, Olivia has retreated to Nantucket to try to sort out her feelings.
Olivia meets Beth and her husband and three girls – year-rounders on the island. The couple is tired. When they fell in love, Nantucket was their dream place.
He loved fishing for scallops and she was going to write. But then the girls came along and the writing never happened. The scallop industry dried up, leaving Jimmy working nights as a bartender. Their marriage is under a lot of stress. Beth faced losses too.
Olivia’s recollections of Anthony bring the reader to love him as much as Olivia did. She remembers: “Anthony was like any child with his needs and desires. Whenever I ever see a smooth white stone lying on a beach I will remember Anthony and how he liked to line them up in various patterns, crossing a room many times. He was so happy when he had them lined up in some perfect order. Every child should be that happy.”
Lisa Genova offers wonderful insights into the mind of an autistic child. And she makes it clear that most everyone falls somewhere along the autism spectrum: Some do not care for large noisy rooms. Some like having the dresser drawers all tidy and orderly. Some would rather not be pulled into a huge embrace by a virtual stranger.
Beth and Olivia, strong, caring mothers, care for each other. The beaches and the stones of Nantucket provide the quiet and peacefulness for the friendship of the two women as they both begin to heal.