From neuroscientist and New York Times bestselling author of Still Alice comes a powerful exploration of regret, forgiveness, freedom, and what it means to be alive.
An accomplished concert pianist, Richard received standing ovations from audiences all over the world in awe of his rare combination of emotional resonance and flawless technique. Every finger of his hands was a finely calibrated instrument, dancing across the keys and striking each note with exacting precision. That was eight months ago.
Richard now has ALS, and his entire right arm is paralyzed. His fingers are impotent, still, devoid of possibility. The loss of his hand feels like a death, a loss of true love, a divorce—his divorce.
He knows his left arm will go next.
Three years ago, Karina removed their framed wedding picture from the living room wall and hung a mirror there instead. But she still hasn’t moved on. Karina is paralyzed by excuses and fear, stuck in an unfulfilling life as a piano teacher, afraid to pursue the path she abandoned as a young woman, blaming Richard and their failed marriage for all of it.
When Richard becomes increasingly paralyzed and is no longer able to live on his own, Karina becomes his reluctant caretaker. As Richard’s muscles, voice, and breath fade, both he and Karina try to reconcile their past before it’s too late.
Poignant and powerful, Every Note Played is a masterful exploration of redemption and what it means to find peace inside of forgiveness.
Every Note Played by Lisa Genova
Published by Gallery / Scout Press (April 3, 2018)
Genre: Fiction/Adult Fiction/Literary Fiction/Medicine/Relationships
Source: Local Library
Format: Kindle, 321 pages
Where to Buy:
Review of Every Note Played
Lisa Genova, author and neuroscientist, pulls all her talents and skills together to once again engage her readers. In Every Note Played, Genova tells the devastating story of a world-renowned pianist facing the greatest performance of his life–battling the diagnosis of ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. Every cell in Richard’s being is devoted to his music and performance.
He knows his left arm will go next.
As I read this line from the synopsis, I could hear a family member stating almost the same during her siege with ALS. During that time and during the reading of Every Note Played, I pondered what it must be like to know in a given day what you’ll be losing next. The mind is not struck down by the disease.
In the case of Richard, his obsession with his career has already cost him his family, a wife and daughter. He lives alone and must rely on caregivers to help him throughout the day and night. Until…
His ex-wife, Karina, decides she must help him. Neither approaches this renewal of relationship graciously but throughout their struggle, we learn so much of what relationships both in families and friendships should be about. The former husband and wife are no longer competitors in their music careers or as parents, something they neither did very well. Many readers describe Richard very well–arrogant, self-absorbed, rude, hurtful. I agree with their assessment. However, Karina wasn’t much better it seems when they were married. And now she decides to assume the caregiver role.
There are many poignant scenes involved in the development of Genova’s characters in Every Note Played. Some are mildly emotional. Others are heartbreaking. I’m not sure how Genova goes about her writing but she is capable of using the simplest words to share the most difficult and painful scenes. I applaud her ability to share Richard with us and be so accurate in her depiction of his loss of first the use of his fingers, then his hand, and right behind that his arm. Genova gives us a complete picture of living, or should we say dying, with this disease.
With all her books, Genova has the edge right there for her readers but it is a subtle edge. These are not action-packed thrillers; they are human stories using fictional characters. Needless to say, they are page turners!
It is hard to believe one could find a favorite quote in a book telling such a painful story, but I did:
Everything begins and ends. Every day and night, every concerto, every relationship, every life. Everything ends eventually.
My Recommendation: Despite my personal connection with this particular disease, I believe I would still have enjoyed Every Note Played. No, it isn’t a feel-good book, but Genova’s writing is educational, heartfelt, well-written, and authentic. To my mind, she is one of our top authors of today. I highly recommend this book.
Meet Lisa Genova
Lisa Genova graduated valedictorian, summa cum laude from Bates College with a degree in Biopsychology and has a Ph.D. in Neuroscience from Harvard University.
Acclaimed as the Oliver Sacks of fiction and the Michael Crichton of brain science, Lisa has captured a special place in contemporary fiction, writing stories that are equally inspired by neuroscience and the human spirit. She is author of the New York Times bestselling novels, STILL ALICE, LEFT NEGLECTED, LOVE ANTHONY, and INSIDE THE O’BRIENS.
STILL ALICE was adapted into a film starring Julianne Moore, Alec Baldwin, Kristen Stewart, Kate Bosworth and Hunter Parrish. Julianne Moore won the 2015 Best Actress Oscar for her role as Alice Howland.
In 2015, Lisa was named one of the U.S. Top 50 Influencers in Aging by Next Avenue. She has appeared on Dr. Oz, the TODAY show, CNN, PBS Newshour, and NPR.
Her TED Talk, “What You Can Do To Prevent Alzheimer’s” has been viewed over three million times.
She received The Pell Center Prize for Story in the Public Square, for “distinguished storytelling that has enriched the public dialogue,” The Sargent and Eunice Shriver Profiles in Dignity Award, The Global Genes RARE Champions of Hope Award, and The American College of Neuropsychopharmacology Media Award for “informing the public about Treatment and ongoing research in medical illness.”
In 2016, she received an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Bates College, The Alzheimer’s Association’s Rita Hayworth Award, and The Huntington’s Disease Society of America Community Awareness Award.
An instant international bestseller, EVERY NOTE PLAYED is a Library Reads pick, an Indie Next pick, a Bookreporter Bets On pick and an Amazon Best Book of the Month.
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