Book review: "Every Note Played"
Posted by Volunteer Susan Friedberg
Lisa Genova, the neuroscientist who engaged readers with “Still Alice,” her riveting tale of a professor struggling with early onset Alzheimer’s, has now written an equally riveting tale of an acclaimed concert pianist, Richard, struggling with the terrible diagnosis of ALS — that not only takes his life, but even more importantly to him, his career. Her new work, “Every Note Played,” puts a human face on this unrelenting disease.
Ironically, Richard is eventually forced to face that he not only must give up his impressive career but also that he can no longer live on his own. With no other good alternatives, he returns to the home of his ex-wife, Karina, and their daughter, Grace, from whom he has also been estranged.
Forced together by his illness, Richard must confront not only his lost career and his loss of physical strength and dexterity, but also his failure as both a husband and father.
Karina and Grace struggle with the challenging details of managing Richard’s illness, and also with finding some peace at last in this unexpected reuniting of the family left behind.
As in her previous works, Genova brings her knowledge of neuroscience to this book, giving it not only emotional power but also verisimilitude in describing the terrible course of ALS. For that reason, this is not only an emotional narrative but also a vivid portrayal of the unrelenting effects of ALS.
I wholeheartedly recommend this book to anyone caring for ALS patients as both practitioners and volunteers, but also to fans of Genova, as well as those who’ve never experienced the powerful impact of Genova’s writing.