Dapto Library has a brand new book club, “A Novel Idea” which meets on the last Wednesday of every month.

Yesterday was our first official meeting after reading ‘Still Alice’, ‘Left Neglected’ & ‘Love Anthony’ by Lisa Genova.

Lisa Genova is an American neuroscientist, a theme which s strongly explored in her books. Still Alice tells the story of Alice Howland, a Harvard professor who is diagnosed with early onset Alzheimers. The book delves into the devastating effects this disease has, not only on the patient, but also the family and friends of the sufferer. Still Alice was well recieved by A Novel Idea members, who found Alice a very relatable character. Her husband John did not do well under our scrutiny, but he was certainly an important plot point to the story.

Left Neglected, Genova’s second book, is of a similar theme. Sarah is a young mother who is trying to have it all. A fast paced career, a social life and a family. Unfortunately, her family is often slotted in where she can fit them, 3 minutes for a story after dinner, or 5 minutes with homework help. One day, Sarah uses her phone whilst driving and is in a terribly accident. The accident causes her to suffer from ‘left neglect’, a disorder where the brain no longer recognises the left. So Sarah is forced to relearn to live and convince her brain that the left still exists. By having to give up her job and spend more time with her family, Sarah starts to realise what she was missing out on. Sarah is another character who was harshly judged by us. We wondered:  can young women really have it all? With trying to balance a career, a family, a life, what is going to give? We felt that it was often our health and our family that suffererd from our busy schedules.

Finally, Love Anthony. This book is actually quite different to the previous two. Love Anthony is the story of Olivia, a young woman who lose her Autistic son Anthony, and whose life has falled apart. Living on the island of Nantucket, Olivia meets Beth, a woman whose husband is having an affair and is trying to rediscover herself. Before meeting Olivia, beth begins to write a book about a little boy with Autism, and Olivia can’t help but notice an uncanny resemblance to her lost son. How could Beth possibly know that Anthony collected white rocks on the beach? Or that he loved to watch the clouds roll by on a Summer’s day? Olivia becomes convinced that Anthony is reaching out to her via Beth and asks the impossible question: what was the point of Anthony’s short life? This book struck a chord with our members, as many of us have children or have experienced a child with Autism, even just at the shops. We were particularly impressed by Genova’s ability to capture the voice of a little boy suffering from autism so well.

A Novel Idea will be discussing Mao’s Last Dancer in September.