"Even when the rainbow seems to pass right by me....I'm still finding Gold in the clouds....."

28 November 2014

2014 Book Review #41: Love Anthony

I just finished this novel and boy was it powerful!

I had seen this author's books before on the library shelves but this was the first time I ever picked one up to borrow and read. I'm so glad I did!  I had chunks of time to read last night and this morning which is rare.  And nice!


The book opens on Nantucket Island over Columbus Day weekend where David and Olivia Donatelli are vacationing with their 3 year old  son Anthony.

Anthony has just been diagnosed with autism and is non-verbal and hates to be touched.  He also has a thing for collecting and lining up smooth, white rocks from the beaches.  He loves things in 3's. He hates loud noises. Many of these things are typical of autistic children.

Beth, a mother of 3 daughters named Sophie, Jessica, and Gracie, is also visiting the beach but she is a local.  Her husband Jimmy works at one of the local pubs after losing his job fishing for scallops.  There simply aren't enough anymore in the ocean waters around the island.  Beth has been a stay at home mom ever since Sophie was born.

Fast forward five years and Olivia is back on Nantucket in their summer cottage after leaving her husband David back home in Hingham, MA. She needs time away, by herself, to grieve the loss of Anthony who died from a seizure at the age of 8.  Olivia had just gotten accustomed to life with autism and was learning that the diagnosis and happiness really could co-exist. And then Anthony dies. 
 It is quiet on the island in March and she is trying desperately to understand the meaning of Anthony's short life.  She meets another woman...a mom....(Beth) who is trying to deal with her own recent loss of her marriage as Jimmy confessed to an affair with a younger woman who also works at the pub.

Beth and Olivia are connected in a strange sort of way.  Beth is writing a novel about a little boy with autism while raising the 3 girls and trying to deal with Jimmy.  She has rediscovered her creative writing self and it begins to be a balm for her soul and mind.  The story that unfolds is that of Anthony!!  

What happens with Olivia and David...do they indeed get divorced or does the grieving process and time heal their marriage?

What about Beth and Jimmy?  Will she forgive him and move on with her life? Will she forgive him and save their marriage??

And will Olivia get the answer to her deep question?  Just what DID Anthony's life mean?? 


I loved this book from the opening page.  I was drawn in because I have taught children with autism and it is such a scary, fascinating, confusing, and mind-boggling neurological disorder.  Every child with autism is so different...and yet so similar.  It is hard to explain.

The author does a SUPERB job of informing the reader, via Beth's writing in the voice of the little boy, about what autism is like to the autistic person and to the parent.  

This book is so believable!  There is a spiritual quality about it and all of the other characters are so well developed, I found my self wanting to know them personally! 

This story deals with motherhood and all its ups and downs.  It deals with autism and love.  It deals with marital difficulties and triumphs.  It deals with anger, grief and loss.  It deals with love, hate, forgiveness, acceptance, betrayal and the power of friendship.

It deals with wisdom and courage...the courage to move on in life despite the challenges life brings us.

And it showed me some things about former students (and a couple of current ones!) that might help me in my work with them. The author has an amazing ability to describe what an autistic child might be thinking.  It is quite remarkable.  At many times throughout the book, especially when reading the "story" within the story, I found my self with goosebumps....I found myself saying "yes...that explains some of what I see little P-----do at school" or "wow, that is so much like J......"  The really cool thing is that 3 years ago I worked with a little boy named Anthony who is so much like this fictional Anthony it is scary!! All of the descriptions of autistic behaviors were spot on!  It just floored me that the author was able to write  this so well.

I highly recommend this book and I plan on looking for the author's other 2 novels she has written.

In my opinion, this book is appropriate for ages 14 and older.

On a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the highest, I rate this a 10.

1 comment:

Susanne said...

I saw a couple of these on the library's for sale shelves for only a couple of dollars. I think I'll pick it up. And I know exactly what you mean because I used to work with autistic children too!