Olivia is grieving the death of her autistic 10 year old, Anthony. Her marriage has crumbled under the strain and she has come to Nantucket Island to live alone in the cottage she acquired in the divorce settlement. Beth, mother of three girls and a permanent resident of the Island, has just learned that her husband has been unfaithful. These two women are about to become involved in each other’s lives in a way that even they find hard to believe.
The author takes us inside the mind of Anthony, an autistic boy, at least as much as anyone can do that. It’s impossible to know exactly how anyone else thinks, but with a Ph.D. in neuroscience, Lisa Genova probably has a better chance than most of us at guessing. She’s draws a fascinating picture of a boy who wants to communicate but can’t, giving the reader access to the thoughts his mother could only imagine. You can’t help but love him and ache for the pain of his parents.
I thoroughly enjoyed half of this book and not so much the other half. I found Olivia’s story well written and as a character Olivia herself was very relatable. When I was reading her sections I got completely involved and didn't notice time passing. When I read Beth’s chapters I wondered if they were even written by the same person. I found them boring, and the character herself not believable, but had to read through Beth's parts to get back to Olivia’s story. It was a curious reading experience.
The story gets a bit strange in the latter half. There’s a lot of talk about Beth “channeling” the dead boy and receiving messages from him for his mother, and the author mixes that in with Olivia’s turning back to God and the Catholic church. I don't know a lot about the Catholic church, but I don't think communing with the dead is their thing; correct me if I'm wrong. It was a confusing mix of spiritual philosophies that for me cheapened and ruined what could have been a beautiful story.
I was disappointed, but maybe it's just me. I’d like to hear what you thought of it.