Thanks to Laura, who recommended this book! It was a great read for the long weekend. It combined the story of a mother (Olivia) grieving the loss of her son who had autism and the tale of a wife (Beth) grieving the separation from her husband following an illicit affair. The stories intertwine in the beautiful Nantucket setting as the characters struggle with their problems on the beautiful beach island.
Olivia has exiled herself to the solitude of Nantucket Island in the winter, trying to come to terms with her son’s death and the failure of her marriage. As the winter changes to spring, the desolation of the island changes to its frenetic summer pace and Olivia begins life anew, noticing the daffodils and starting a photography business. She reflects on her son and her marriage which succumbed to the the stress of caring for a child with special needs seeking to understand the meaning of her son’s short life.
Beth has been frustrated with her marriage. She is annoyed by all the little habits of her husband (even the ones that she had found endearing when she met him) as she tries to maintain a nice home for their three daughters. When she receives a card in the mail announcing her husband’s infidelity her life dramatically changes. She realizes that she is missing herself and rediscovers her creativity as she begins writing a novel.
Olivia and Beth’s paths cross during a photo shoot on the beach. Beth learns that Olivia had been an editor and eagerly asks her to review her novel when it is finished. The two become friends, learning about themselves and unconditional love through the writing and editing process. They discover their similarities and gain understanding of their own situations.
The author Lisa Genova is also the author of Still Alice (early-onset Alzheimers) and Left Neglected (acquired brain injury) who has a PhD in neuroscience from Harvard University. She combines her scientific knowledge with beautiful stories increasing the readers understanding of these health concerns. Genova’s fourth book, Meet the O’Brien’s is being released this week and is about the devastating genetic disease, Huntington’s. Look for a review of this during the month of April as it is my May book club read.
This was a great book! Genova does a wonderful job weaving fiction with the challenges of autism. I hope that her writing helps create understanding and compassion for individuals and families living with the autism spectrum. I would highly recommend all three of her books and can’t wait to read Meeting the O’Briens.