Publishing Date: September 25th, 2012
Genre: Adult Contemporary
Pages: 309 pgs
Source: borrowed from the library
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 unforseen 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.
I really enjoyed both of Genova's other novels Left Neglected and Still Alice so when I heard she had a third book out I was excited to read it. I immediately bought it in hardcover and then I found that it stayed sitting on my shelf for a little while. I saw it sitting on the shelves of the library in the audiobook section and thought that this would be a good opportunity to read/listen to this story.
I have to admit that while I did quite enjoy this novel, I did not enjoy it as much as her other two novels. I suppose I shouldn't be comparing this book because it is quite different from the other two. This novel doesn't focus on the neurological as much as her other two novels which isn't a bad thing, just different.
This novel has two main characters: Beth who is dealing with her husband's infidelity and Olivia who is still trying to grieve the death of her son who had autism. I really enjoyed reading about autism because I have had a lot of personal experience working with children who have autism. I have worked with children on various ends of the autism spectrum and I have seen first hand how difficult this can be on a family and a marriage. I think that Genova wrote honestly and helped bring some awareness on the subject without delving into controversial topics such as vaccinations. Olivia and Beth's lives mirror each others in many ways. They both find themselves single in middle age and they both are both trying to reinvent themselves in different ways.
I really started to feel for both women and I loved seeing them struggle internally with what to do next in their lives.
The narration of this novel is very well done. It is read by Debra Messing and she really brought life to the characters. It flowed well and I found myself enchanted by her voice at times. I read/listened through this quite quickly and I found myself sitting in the car for several minutes after I had arrived at my destination just to find out what happens next. Overall this is a very well written book but if you have read Genova's other novels you may find yourself slightly disappointed. I think that if you haven't read anything by Genova this is a good place to start.