I have been curious what the back cover of the final version of Love Anthony says because mine implies it is mostly the story of Anthony’s mother, Olivia, after he dies. I was surprised then, to find the story focuses just as much on the story of another mother named Beth, whose husband is having an affair. Oh, and she’s also an aspiring writer. At that point it would have been easier, perhaps even advisable, to shut the book and find something funny—the newest Evanovich maybe—but Genova had already hooked me, and what’s life without a little humiliating introspection?
I have only classroom exposure to autism, and I know this is a spectrum diagnosis rather than a definitive description, but I believe Genova explores the topic with sensitivity and depth. Olivia’s journal entries are so real and so insightful I found it difficult not to weep, and rage and rejoice alongside her. Then there’s Beth’s story within the story, “translating,” as it were, a little-understood voice. Perhaps at times the intertwining of the stories is a little too convenient, but then again, that is one of my favorite aspects of Love, Actually. It is satisfying in a non-cheesy way. For the cheese-phobic, consider yourself alerted.
I also appreciate the way the seasons and the setting underscore the journeys of both women, but not identically. “Spring Awakening” isn’t automatically joy when the crowds new life brings are an assault to the senses. Perhaps in that way, too, we can gain a little insight into Anthony.
Finally, personal difficulties aside, I admire the “no easy answers” approach to looking at each woman’s failing marriage and the choices they make regarding those relationships as well as deciding what path they must each choose.
Love Anthony was published in September and is available for checkout.