Every Note Played by Lisa Genova

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My Review:

I am a huge fan of Lisa Genova’s and have enjoyed and highly recommend her four previous novels, Still Alice, Inside the O’Brien’s, Left Neglected and  Love Anthony.  Genova has a degree in Biopsychology and a Ph.D. in Neuroscience, and her medical knowledge adds powerful enrichment to her heartbreaking and life affirming stories that tackle real neurological diseases.

In Every Note Played, concert pianist, Richard, experienced life’s joy through playing piano, his expert fingers on the keys were his livelihood and his passion.  Once given the detrimental diagnosis of ALS, Richard started losing the use of his hands, then arms.  His ex-wife, Katrina was leading an unfulfilling life, teaching piano to disinterested kids after school.   Years ago her career was put on hold for Richard, and she never faced her fear to pursue her dreams.  Feeling like she has little choice, Katrina reluctantly decides to be Richard’s caretaker.

Genova expertly explores regret, guilt and forgiveness as we witness the progression of this deadly disease. Richard and Katrina tip toe around their past while they attend to the growing responsibilities and challenges ALS demands of them.   Fighting their feelings of denial and anger, Richard, Katrina and their daughter use their fleeting time together to work through the disappointments of their relationships from the past and try to connect again one last time before it is too late.

Every Note Played is a tragic and upsetting story about a horrible degenerative disease, but with the eye on human relationships and great insight, Genova explores life choices and their consequences, giving us incentive to be less selfish, and strive for peace and understanding amongst family and friends before we run out of time.  I highly recommend this book.

As Seen on Goodreads:

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.

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About the Author:

Acclaimed as the Oliver Sacks of fiction and the Michael Crichton of brain science, Lisa Genova is the author of the New York Times bestselling novels STILL ALICE, LEFT NEGLECTED, LOVE ANTHONY, and INSIDE THE O’BRIENS.

Lisa graduated valedictorian from Bates College with a degree in Biopsychology and has a Ph.D. in Neuroscience from Harvard University. She has captured a special place in contemporary fiction, writing stories that are equally inspired by neuroscience and the human spirit. Her books focus on people living with neurological diseases and disorders who tend to be ignored, feared, or misunderstood, portrayed within a narrative that is accessible to the general public. Through fiction, she is dedicated to describing with passion and accuracy the journeys of those affected by neurological diseases, thereby educating, demystifying, and inspiring support for care and scientific research. She has written about Alzheimer’s disease, traumatic brain injury, autism, Huntington’s disease, and ALS.

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. She received The Pell Center Prize for Story in the Public Square,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.

Her 2017 TED talk, “What You Can Do To Prevent Alzheimer’s,” was seen by over 2.5 million viewers in its first few months and was one of the most popular TED talks of 2017.

Her fifth novel, EVERY NOTE PLAYED, is about ALS and was published in March 2018.

 

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The Sunshine Sisters by Jane Green

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As seen on Goodreads:

The New York Times bestselling author of Falling presents a warm, wise, and wonderfully vivid novel about a mother who asks her three estranged daughters to come home to help her end her life.

Ronni Sunshine left London for Hollywood to become a beautiful, charismatic star of the silver screen. But at home, she was a narcissistic, disinterested mother who alienated her three daughters.

As soon as possible, tomboy Nell fled her mother’s overbearing presence to work on a farm and find her own way in the world as a single mother. The target of her mother s criticism, Meredith never felt good enough, thin enough, pretty enough. Her life took her to London and into the arms of a man whom she may not even love. And Lizzy, the youngest, more like Ronni than any of them, seemed to have it easy, using her drive and ambition to build a culinary career to rival her mother’s fame, while her marriage crumbled around her.

But now the Sunshine Girls are together again, called home by Ronni, who has learned that she has a serious disease and needs her daughters to fulfill her final wishes. And though Nell, Meredith, and Lizzy are all going through crises of their own, their mother s illness draws them together to confront old jealousies and secret fears and they discover that blood might be thicker than water after all.

My Comments:

So much to enjoy in Jane Green’s latest novel, The Sunshine Sisters!  Sisters Nell, Meredith, and Lizzy, have damaged relationships with each other and their actress mother Ronni, and when Ronni asks them all to come see her at once, they are not enthusiastic.  Ronni is ill and wants to make amends before she dies.  She hopes to be forgiven for her less than perfect mothering and to bring her girls together so they can get reacquainted and become a support for each other.

Jane’s characters are complex and well developed; we learn of their insecurities, coping mechanisms and emotions, and we see how it manifests in their words and behaviors.  Each daughter had to overcome obstacles in her life and I was rooting for all of them every step of the way.  In addition to the realistically flawed, likable characters, I have to make mention of the setting.  As a Westport native, it was such a pleasure for me to see my town through the eyes of the Sunshine sisters, nostalgic, accurate and oh so much fun!

Always pleasurable to read a Jane Green novel, and for me, this one was especially wonderful.  A beautiful story of a family mending fences, reevaluating priorities, repairing relationships and creating new and better ones.  The wonderful Westport, Connecticut setting with mentions of all the hot spots read like a cherished home movie for me, and shedding some tears like I did always deserves a thumbs up!

The Sunshine Sisters will be available June 6th!  Order a copy HERE for your beach bag!

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Jane Green is the author of eighteen novels, of which seventeen are New York Times Bestsellers, including her latest, Falling Previous novels have included The Beach House, Second Chance, Jemima J, and Tempting Fate.  Her cookbook, Good Taste, debuted on October 4th.

She is published in over 25 languages, and has over ten million books in print worldwide. She joined the ABC News team to write their first enhanced digital book— about the history of Royal marriages, then joined ABC News as a live correspondent covering Prince William’s wedding to Kate Middleton.  A former journalist in the UK, she has had her own radio show on BBC Radio London, and is a regular contributor on radio and TV, including as well as regularly appearing on television shows including Good Morning America, The Martha Stewart show, and The Today Show.

Together with writing books and blogs, she contributes to various publications, both online and print, including anthologies and novellas, and features for The Huffington Post, The Sunday Times, Cosmopolitan and Self. She has taught at writers conferences, and does regular keynote speaking, and has a weekly column in The Lady magazine, England’s longest running weekly magazine.

A graduate of the French Culinary Institute in New York, Green filled two of her books, Saving Grace and Promises to Keep, with recipes culled from her own collection. She says she only cooks food that is “incredibly easy, but has to look as if you have slaved over a hot stove for hours.” This is because she has five children, and has realised that “when you have five children, nobody ever invites you anywhere.”

She lives in Westport, Connecticut with her husband and their blended family. When she is not writing, cooking, gardening, filling her house with friends and herding chickens, she is usually thanking the Lord for caffeine-filled energy drinks. A cancer survivor – she has overcome Malignant Melanoma, she also lives with Chronic Lyme Disease, and believes gratitude and focusing on the good in life is the secret to happiness.