Still battered by the smoldering remains of loss, Nantucket resident Olivia Donatelli struggles to find the meaning of her autistic son's short life in Lisa Genova's heart-tugging new novel, Love Anthony. Her journey of reflection leads to an unlikely encounter with another island resident that is as complex as the autism spectrum that defined her son's eight years of life.
Olivia is a mother tormented by grief. When she moves to the salty, picturesque island following the unexpected death of her son, Anthony, she brings with her too many lingering “what ifs.” To obtain answers, she revisits her old journal entries of her life with Anthony and her estranged husband, David. Her new job as a beach photographer brings distraction and as well as contact with another mother who faces her own personal loss.
Beth Ellis has been slammed by the proverbial Mack truck when she learns her husband has cheated on her. Reeling, she turns to writing as a way to pick up the pieces. It is her subject, a silent autistic boy she once observed, that provides the link between the two women’s parallel lives and their path to a renewal and understanding that only time can provide.
Although Genova has meticulously drawn characters in Beth and Olivia, it is the captivating, innocent voice of Anthony that provides the poignant glimpses into an autistic child’s mind. In her story, Beth gives the boy a voice that is both wondrous and sad. Here the reader sees the neuroscientist Genova at her best, deftly conveying the complex neurological misfirings of the human mind in ways that are both compassionate and oh so real. Like her previous books, Still Alice and Left Neglected, Love Anthony enlists the reader in a club that no one wants to join but that everyone can imagine.