Every Note Played by Lisa Genova

Karina’s musical talent surpasses her boyfriend Richard’s, but she sacrifices her dream to their marriage and child, and then falls in love with jazz, a genre abhorrent to Richard. He builds his career as an international classical pianist, his inflating ego one of many factors in their divorce. He attempts to hide the onset of ALS from his fans, his agent, and Karina. Due to circumstances and finances, Richard moves back in with Karina, who takes over his care with the help of home health aides. In the year that robs Richard of his body, he at last opens up emotionally to his estranged daughter, and eventually he and Karina find a kind of peace.

Beyond being a graphic, heart-wrenching depiction of a man succumbing to a fatal disease, this story shows how women accommodate men and lose themselves, accepting a smaller life. It’s also a homily to home health aides who make the effort to maintain the dignity of their clients. The rolling flow of the writing is interrupted only by the excessive use of analogies, whole paragraphs at times. In Author Notes, Genova offers a peek into her research and sources for an accurate representation of living with ALS. The details are so vivid, if she’d written in first person, this novel would have read like a memoir.

I was fortunate to receive a digital copy of this wonderful story from the publisher through NetGalley.

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