Lisa Genova’s Love Anthony is different from Still Alice and Inside the O’Briens because the story starts at the end of a neurological illness not the beginning. Anthony was an autistic young boy who passed away two years prior to the events of the novel. His mother, Olivia, spent all of her energy on him and his needs; her life subsequently crumbles after his passing, she divorces her husband and moves to their Nantucket beach home. Beth is a middle-aged stay-at-home mom who discovers her husband is cheating on her with a woman from work. She struggles to rebuild her life but begins to rediscover the woman she was before her marriage. After a visit to the library she starts writing a collection of short stories from the perspective of an autistic little boy named Anthony.
Beth and Olivia’s paths cross although their connection to autism does not readily come to the surface. Autism is not the focal point of Love Anthony, it is about two women on a journey of self discovery with autism in the background. Perhaps that’s why this wasn’t my favorite Genova novel; it felt like autism was tacked on, an afterthought to keep Love Anthony in line with her previous works. I know there was supposed to be a mystical reason for Beth being able to channel the words of an autistic child for her book but it felt forced. I was much more interested in the other events of the novel and actually glossed over some of “Anthony’s” passages.