9781439164693

LOVE ANTHONY

Lisa Genova

I’m always hearing about how my brain doesn’t work right…But it doesn’t feel broken to me.

Olivia Donatelli’s dream of a “normal” life shattered when her son, Anthony, was diagnosed with autism at age three. He didn’t speak. He hated to be touched. He almost never made eye contact.

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I’m always hearing about how my brain doesn’t work right…But it doesn’t feel broken to me.

Olivia Donatelli’s dream of a “normal” life shattered when her son, Anthony, was diagnosed with autism at age three. He didn’t speak. He hated to be touched. He almost never made eye contact. And just as Olivia was starting to realize that happiness and autism could coexist, Anthony was gone.

Now she’s alone on Nantucket, desperate to find meaning in her son’s short life, when a chance encounter with another woman brings Anthony alive again in a most unexpected way.

In a warm, deeply human story reminiscent of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time and Daniel Isn’t Talking, New York Times bestselling author Lisa Genova offers us two unforgettable women on the verge of change and the irrepressible young boy with autism whose unique wisdom helps them both find the courage to move on.

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Paperback

Price: $16.00

ISBN: 9781439164693

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Hardcover

Price: $26.00

ISBN: 9781439164686

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About Lisa Genova

Lisa Genova graduated valedictorian from Bates College with a degree in biopsychology and holds a Ph.D. in neuroscience from Harvard University. She is a member of the Dementia Advocacy Support Network International and DementiaUSA and is an online columnist for the National Alzheimer’s association. She lives with her husband and two children in Cape Cod. Her first two novels are the New York Times bestsellers Still Alice and Left Neglected.

Praise

“Autism is like a Zen koan–a riddle without answers.., with effects that are myriad, mysterious, and confounding. The same could be said about love. This book upended my perceptions of both conditions, leaving me feeling with my mind and thinking with my heart. Everyone should read this book!” Jamie Ford, New York Times bestselling author of Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet

“Lisa Genova has essentially created her own genre, the 'Lisa Genova' novel, in which complicated topics become accessible to readers through beautifully-drawn characters and profound, human-scale stories. Love Anthony dares to ask enormous questions, the big questions that bedevil all of us. Better yet, Genova has the wisdom to know which ones can be answered, and which cannot. ”Laura Lippman, New York Times bestselling author of And When She Was Good

“There’s a point in the narrative where one of the characters becomes so engrossed in reading a book that she loses track of time. Readers of Genova’s latest excellent offering might very well find the same happening to them.”Kirkus Review

“Lisa Genova's novels ring true. Love Anthony, like Genova's two previous novels, is beautifully written, and poignant to the point of heartbreak…Anyone who has had even a passing contact with an autistic child will relate.”USA Today

“Writing with deep empathy and insight, Genova has created an engaging story that fearlessly asks the big questions.”Booklist

Discussion Questions

How much did you know about this condition before starting Love Anthony? Do you know anyone who has autism or an autistic person in their family?

What significance does the setting of Nantucket play in this story? Would the story have been different if it had taken place in New York City or Chicago?

Beth pulls a box out of her attic, filled with remnants from her old life, and is reminded of the woman she once was. If you were to go through a box from your attic, what items might you find?

On the subject of marriage and fidelity, Beth’s friend Courtney muses: “You’re always at the mercy of the people you’re in a relationship with, right?” (p. 171) Do you agree? What do you think of the advice she offers Beth?

Do you think the author accurately captured the voice of a young autistic boy in the Anthony chapters? Did these sections enhance Beth’s story for you? What about Olivia’s journal entries?

After receiving David’s letter about his impending engagement, Olivia ponders the concept of happiness: “He’s right. I forgot about happiness. At first, it wasn’t a priority. Anthony had autism, and every ounce of energy went into saving him. Her happiness was irrelevant….And then, just when she was starting to realize that happiness and autism could co-exist in the same room, in the same sentence, in her heart, Anthony died, and happiness was no longer a concept she could fathom.” (p. 283) Do you think happiness is a conscious choice? Do you find it telling that Olivia uses the phrase “saving him” in reference to Anthony and his autism?

Toward the end of the story, Olivia has an epiphany when she realizes that “There was more to Anthony’s life than his death. And there was more to Anthony than his autism.” (p. 283) What do you think finally enables Olivia to have this realization? Was it a singular event or a process?

When Jimmy and Beth share their homework assignments given to them by Dr. Campbell, were you surprised by Beth’s initial reaction? Why is forgiving Jimmy the one thing Beth can’t do?

After reading Beth’s novel, Olivia is convinced Anthony is speaking to her through Beth. Skeptical, Beth discusses the idea with the more spiritual Petra, who feels “we’re all connected, even if we don’t know how. Maybe communicating through you gives you the something you need in this lifetime.” (p. 308) Do you agree or disagree with Petra?

Through writing her book, Beth realizes “this story was more about Anthony the boy than Anthony the boy with autism… she was simply writing about Anthony, a boy worthy of happiness and safety, of feeling wanted and loved. Just like her. The more she wrote about Anthony, the more she realized that she was actually writing about herself.” (p. 331) How so?

Beth ultimately decides the lesson of her book is “Find someone to love and love without condition.” (p.332) Do you think this could also apply as an overall theme for Love Anthony? Can you find any others?

Which character did you relate to the most and why? Where do you see these characters in five years?

What do you think of Beth’s epilogue? Do you think it provides a satisfying ending to her story? To the novel as a whole?

Another recurring theme of Love Anthony is faith – having faith, losing faith, and taking a leap of faith. Can you remember a time in your own life when you took a leap of faith?