by Lisa Genova
Genre: Women's Fiction
Summary (from Goodreads): From the award-winning New York Times bestselling author of Still Alice and Left Neglected, comes a heartfelt novel about an accidental friendship that gives a grieving mother a priceless gift: the ability to understand the thoughts of her eight-year-old autistic son and make sense of his brief life.
Two women, each cast adrift by unforeseen events in their lives, meet by accident on a Nantucket beach and are drawn into a friendship.
Olivia is a young mother whose eight-year-old severely autistic son has recently died. Her marriage badly frayed by years of stress, she comes to the island in a trial separation to try and make sense of the tragedy of her Anthony’s short life.
Beth, a stay-at-home mother of three, is also recently separated after discovering her husband’s long-term infidelity. In an attempt to recapture a sense of her pre-married life, she rekindles her passion for writing, determined to find her own voice again. But surprisingly, as she does so, Beth also find herself channeling the voice of an unknown boy, exuberant in his perceptions of the world around him if autistic in his expression—a voice she can share with Olivia—(is it Anthony?)—that brings comfort and meaning to them both.
Marcie's Review: This book wasn't perfect, but I loved it anyway. I don't know anything about autism, but I was moved by Anthony's story and how his mother copes with the challenges involved in raising and loving him. Hearing Anthony's thoughts lent a unique perspective that made him so lovable, and they seemed realistic and believable, at least to someone unfamiliar with autism. I appreciated the strong friendships between the women characters, and how both Olivia and Beth realized and made use of their strengths and talents. Now for the imperfections: Beth's ability to write such a moving and beautiful novel 15 years after studying writing in college, without picking up a pen in the interim, seemed like a stretch. And the mysterious way she channeled Anthony's voice was a little disconcerting. But aside from those complaints, this book was moving, enjoyable to read, and one that I will recommend to all my friends and family.
Becky's Review: I thoroughly enjoyed this book and read it in about 2 days. It was hard to put down. I couldn't wait to read more about Olivia and Beth so that I could know how they both healed and tried to move on. I felt Olivia's heartbreak after losing her son and also with dealing with having a son with autism. I really loved her story. I felt less strongly about Beth. She was a little wishy washy to me but I loved to see how her story connected with Olivia's. This really was a heart warming story that I would recommend.
Marcie's Rating: 4.5 stars
Becky's Rating: 4 stars