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Every Note Played

by Lisa Genova

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5905130,777 (4.11)36
A once accomplished concert pianist, Richard now has ALS. As he 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. This is a masterful exploration of redemption and what it means to find peace inside of forgiveness.--Amazon.com.… (more)
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» See also 36 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 51 (next | show all)
Poignant rendering of a family touched by ALS: Richard, a concert pianist contracts it and his family, mostly his ex-wife, Karina, are caregivers along with home aides. The novel describes the progression of the debilitating disease from all points of view. One thing positive: ALS does make each ex-partner realize resentment against the other, which leads to mutual forgiveness and acceptance of the other. A sad read, but a triumph of the human spirit.

Highly recommended. ( )
  janerawoof | Mar 11, 2021 |
Another solid book by Genova. Another challenging disease (ALS) is the focus of the story, narrated somewhat alternately by Richard who suffers from the disease and Karina, his ex-wife. So while the book is "about" ALS, it's also very much about their troubled relationship and how they can't let go of their past. A great example of two ships passing in the night, because if they both got over themselves and spoke their heart, they could have had a better marriage. Instead they keep everything bottled up and live behind a wall of lies and assumptions. Ugh, just communicate! I think it's Genova's talent that lets her deal with the two very significant issues at once: the tragedy of ALS and the importance of communication (alternately explained as the pain of not forgiving). As much as I couldn't fully back either character (also a strength of the novel in not championing him or her over the other: they're both equally sympathetic and frustrating, simultaneously victim and perpetrator), its tragedy and sadness still hits the heart. Worth a read -- or listen! ( )
  LDVoorberg | Nov 22, 2020 |
Lisa Genova does it again - putting a very human face on a debilitating degenerative disease. Still Alice is still my favorite, but this comes in a close second. The epigraph is from Rumi: "Why do you stay in prison when the door is wide open?" and it works on a couple different levels. Richard is an accomplished concert pianist and within the first chapter or two of the book is diagnosed with ALS. His progression is quick, so his livelihood and life change rapidly - his hands are the first limbs to lose response to his brain. Richard is estranged from his birth family - his mother is dead and his brothers and father were always dedicated to sports, so never understood his love of music and were even hostile toward his talent. Richard also had an acrimonious divorce from his wife Karina and has lost touch with his daughter Grace. The chapters alternate between Richard and Karina as they give differing perspectives and accounts of their time together in an unhappy marriage and then their time together facing the disease. She is literally the only one who can take him in after his hired caregivers are no longer sufficient 3xs a day. Karina is an accomplished pianist in her own right - jazz - but gave it up to follow Richard's career and raise their daughter. The story is about reconciliation, and also the physical indignities of the disease and toll it takes not only on the body, but the spirit. Bottom line: life isn't meant to be lived completely alone, especially in extenuating circumstances like this. ( )
  CarrieWuj | Oct 24, 2020 |
This is a grim little story. Didn't really enjoy the read as much as I anticipated. The progressive degeneration (induced by ALS) depicted as each chapter jumps ahead was very effective, however. As tragic as their tale is, both main characters, Richard and Karina, came across as rather unlikable, with a few key exceptions that include when Richard insists on going out for a walk by himself, and when Karina accompanies Elise's class to New Orleans.

The power of author Lisa Genova's writing gives the book a strong emotional finish, although we don't really get a sense of the lasting impact Richard's behavior and his cruelly devastating illness will have on his daughter, Grace. Genova explores - through Richard's vantage point - his relationship with his father; a one-sided point of view, and with his daughter, also through his eyes only. Obviously, not sharing any of Grace's state of mind was done purposely; we are left to our own conclusions, but I would have liked to have seen something in the epilogue that dug deeper. ( )
  Mona07452 | Oct 23, 2020 |
Funny how the story of their lives can be an entirely different genre depending on the narrator.

still alice: genderbend version

Like, I shouldn't be talking about her past hits but...like...that's what this is... Not necessarily in a bad way, as they're both extremely solid, sensitive, and painful books, but I've read this one before. This one came with more complicated relationships and the perfect tools to test them, however. That's what sets it apart.

While Alice had a bit of an awkward daughter to deal with, Richard and Karina are ex-spouses who've messed with each other's lives and are now stuck together again, Richard feeling parasitic although there's no way around that feeling if he wants to live. It was well-crafted but not entirely thrilling. I think contemporaries just...y'all they bore me...........mundane life problems and mundane people...like, by the star rating, it's a really good book but I just - !!!! Can't!!!Deal with people's boring-ass problems!!! The ALS wasn't boring but then you feel weird and manipulative for that being the only "worthy" and shiny problem worth reading but that's why the book is about ALS and not about two boring ablebodied spouses?!?! ahhh!?!?!

I don't have too much to say. It wasn't full of action but I still couldn't put it down. Genova, as always, knows her topics incredibly well, and explains them to us dumb folk with information that doesn't feel forced or condescending. Regardless of blehhh marriage problemsssss, it was still really enjoyable, a little teary, a lot beautiful between the lines. ( )
  Chyvalrys | Aug 5, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 51 (next | show all)
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Epigraph
Why do you stay in prison when the door is so wide open?
---Rumi
Dedication
For my parents
In loving memory of
Richard Glatzer
Kevin Gosnell
Chris Connors
Chris Engstrom
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Richard is playing the second movement of Schumann's Fantasie in C Major, op. 17, the final piece of his solo recital at the Adrienne Arsht Center in Miami.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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A once accomplished concert pianist, Richard now has ALS. As he 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. This is a masterful exploration of redemption and what it means to find peace inside of forgiveness.--Amazon.com.

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