Book Feature: Love Anthony

Love Anthony is the story of two thirty-something women who are both reeling from loss: Olivia is mourning the death of her eight-year-old, non-verbal, autistic child; Beth is shattered by her husband’s infidelity with a younger woman and the demise of her marriage.

It’s a brief, chance encounter on a Nantucket beach that initially brings the women together. As Beth’s three young daughters play in the sand, Olivia sits on a chair nearby, watching her son Anthony meticulously line up white stones along the shore.

Several years later, as full time residents of Nantucket, they face the fierce storms and grey skies of the island off-season, even as they struggle to understand the events that have shattered their lives.

Separated from her husband, Beth looks for a way back to herself and the woman she was before becoming a wife and mother. She resurrects her dream of becoming a writer, and finally, uncaps her pen to begin writing a novel that is inspired by a young autistic boy (Anthony) she once saw on the beach, lining up white stones. Every day she is compelled to keep writing, giving a voice to the boy who, in life, could not speak. A boy she somehow seems to understand.

Olivia’s search is a spiritual one. What did Anthony’s short life mean, if anything? Why was he born with autism? Why, after the years of therapy, tutors and doctors — when she had begun to accept his autism as simply a way of being — was he taken from her?

Emerging from a self-imposed isolation from her estranged husband, friends and family, Olivia eventually finds work as a seasonal photographer to support herself. It is when Beth books a photography session for her daughters that their lives intersect again. And, in a most unexpected way, both women are able to provide one another with healing, hope, forgiveness, and just maybe, a way to move forward.

It’s also a story with a mystical element — when writing her novel, how was Beth able to hear Anthony’s voice so clearly and know so much of his life?

Watch as Lisa Genova discusses Love Anthony:

Lisa Genova, who has a Ph.D. in Neuroscience from Harvard University, is the author of the NY Times Bestselling novels Still Alice and Left Neglected.

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