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Every Note Played

An emotional profound chronicle of the terrifying effects of ALS disease and the opportunity for redemption it brought to one family.


SUMMARY Richard Evans loves the attention and applause when he plays. He’s an accomplished classical concert pianist and has played in the most famous concert halls all over the world. His fingers are finely calibrated instruments that dance across keys, and making music come alive. But now Richard has ALS and his right arm is paralyzed, his left is not far behind. Karina, his forty-five year-old ex-wife is also paralyzed, paralyzed by excuses and fear, and stuck in an unfulfilling life as a piano teacher, having given up her dreams of a jazz pianist long ago. She’s despises Richard and blames him for their failed marriage and her lost career. As Richard’s ALS progresses and he is no longer able to live on his on, Karina becomes his reluctant caretaker.

“He counts five other people close enough to hear him if he yells, but they might as will be in Timbuktu because he’ll never asked any of these strangers for help. And he’ll never ask his father or brothers in New Hampshire or his daughter in Chicago. And he can’t ask Trevor in New York or his medical team at Mass General or even Bill, who is somewhere with his next client. He is alone in the Public Garden. He’s alone in his home, He’s alone in his ALS. And he’s suddenly, overwhelmingly terrified.”

REVIEW Every Note Played is about much more than ALS. It is about taking something as horrific as ALS, and using it to make amends, to set things straight and to apologize for all the hurt Richard and Karina have caused each other, before it’s to late. Basically it’s about forgiveness. The feelings and emotions brought out in the story were striking and the character development was superb. Lisa Genova’s writing is amazingly lyrical, much like the beautiful Schumann’s Fantasie in C Major that Richard played at Carnegie Hall. Genova derived her vivid descriptions of Richard’s symptoms and her understanding of the disease and its progression, directly from several very dear friends with ALS. Similar to her 2009 book Still Alice, and her mother’s Alzheimer’s disease, for her, it’s personal. That is precisely what makes Every Note Played one of the best books of 2018.

Thanks to Netgalley, Gallery/Scout Press and Lisa Genova for an advanced reading copy of this book in exchange for a honest review. Published March 20, 2018.

“Every note played is a life and a death.”
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