Love Anthony, Lisa Genova, Gallery Books, 2012, 306 pp
When I was growing up there basically two groups of people: normal people and then all the rest. Of course that was simplistic. As a young woman I became interested in all the people who weren't "normal," as did most of society. Now we've got names for all the different kinds of people though unfortunately many of those names are mostly labels.
One kind of unusual person is devoted to understanding differences among people and passing the info on to others. That is a worthy human endeavor, if not always appreciated. Lisa Genova is such a person. She has a PhD in neuroscience from Harvard and has written three novels about people who suffer from neurological difficulties.
Still Alice (2007) which she originally self-published, was about a Harvard professor with early onset Alzheimer's disease. It became a bestseller and the author was signed by Simon & Schuster. Left Neglected (2011) is the story of a woman trying to recover from a brain injury.
Love Anthony deals with autism. When Anthony was diagnosed as autistic at the age of three, Olivia and her husband had the "reason" for Anthony's differences but their marriage could not hold up when Anthony died some years later.
Olivia separates from her husband and escapes to their summer cottage on Nantucket. After a lonely winter she meets Beth, mother of three and also separated. Due to a series of coincidences and synchronicities they impact each others' lives in positive ways.
I read this for a reading group. Many members, as well as bloggers and readers who post on Goodreads, were dismayed by some unlikely elements in the plot, by its almost chick lit flavor, and by a "different" approach to the relationship between Anthony, Olivia, and Beth. It is as though they were spiritually connected.
I was not bothered by any of those criticisms. I have an interest in such things as synchronicity, non-verbal connections, and especially the many ways that women help each other. I thought the writing was just fine, even brilliant at times.
The insight into the mind of an autistic child is done so well. It is sensitive, down-to-earth, and because of her education and experience I believe Lisa Genova. Because of my various spiritual studies, women's studies, and experience I think Olivia and Beth are realistic characters. Love Anthony was a good read for me. Now I want to read her other two books.
Is anyone completely "normal?" Of course not!
(Love Anthony is available in various formats by order from Once Upon A Time Bookstore.)