Every Note Played

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 29 Mar 2018

Member Reviews

4.5 Stars! Lisa Genova does it again! I am so impressed with how this book was written in that I felt for the characters but also learned so much at the same time. The challenges experienced by the characters were 100% realistic and the alternating view points of Richard and Karina was so well done. I l0ved hearing about Richard's music career and also I learned so much about ALS that it wasn't forced upon me but was done through his experience as the disease progressed.  Highly Recommended
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Lisa Genova is a neuroscientist who brings her medical knowledge to tell the story of a patient and his family living (and dying) with ALS. While I didn't like it quite as much as Left Neglected and Inside the O"Briens, it is still a medically sound and fascinating look into how very hard life and love can be when dealing with a horrible, devastating disease.
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I received a free eARC from the publisher through Net Galley in exchange for an honest review. This novel was published on March 20th of this year.

Richard is an accomplished concert pianist who has traded his family for his career. When he develops ALS, his right arm is the first to become completely paralyzed. It’s only a matter of time before his left arm follows and, soon, the rest of his body. Soon he is no longer able to live on his own and moves back in with his ex-wife, the piano teacher Karina.

Author Lisa Genova is a neuroscientist herself, and has written other novels like Still Alice and Left Neglected, inspired by both neuroscience and the human spirit. I’ll definitely be picking up more of her work in the future.

Every Note Played hits a particularly sensitive part of my heart. Reading about someone being torn away from their passion is incredibly difficult. Genova captures the emotional distress of her characters in an eerily realistic way.

As Richard’s ALS progresses, so does the development in all of the characters. They overcome and address countless obstacles in their lives and relationships. Even in such a tragic story, the reader catches glimpses of hope in Karina’s piano playing and their daughter’s progress in college.

The last eighty percent of the book was difficult for me to get through. A lot happens all at once and I cried through most of it. The entire novel is emotional but that section was especially so. Genova does a fantastic job showing feelings in her writing.

Every Note Played is a heart-breaking book that I can heartily recommend to everyone. 4.5 / 5 stars overall!
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There are multiple stories in this book. One is about two accomplished pianists, Karina, who sacrifices what could be an enormously fulfilling career so Richard, the talented, ambitious man she loves can achieve his notoriety. This is a story of love, rage, hate, self-hate, jealousy, fidelity, failed relationships, twenty years of blame and resentment, twenty years of being right at any cost. This is a story where desperation is mistaken for dedication, arrogance for confidence.

Then there is the story of the victims of ALS. This is a tragically hard story that rips you apart as you wonder if life is worth living without the use of your hands, your legs, your feet.  Is life worth living when your body becomes a prison over which you have no control but your mind is alert, active and aware that this is the best you can expect. The worst is so horrible that it is better to look away. 

The ultimate story is breathtaking in its brevity and excruciating in its description. By acknowledging the gift of life in exchange for the loss of another Lisa Genova brings into focus not only what the victims of ALS suffer but the terrible toll it takes on family care givers. This is a story about a ferocious disease told by an insightful, skilled author.

Thank you NetGalley and Gallery/Scout Press for a copy
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As in her previous books, Lisa Genova gives a realistic and emotional portrayal of what it is like to have a life-threatening neurological disease.  This book gives insight into how a family, already broken, copes with the diagnosis and progression of ALS. It's a heartbreaking story, showing how devastating the disease is, but it's also a moving story as Genova's characters show compassion and forgiveness. Readers will learn more about ALS from a technical, medical point of view while also gaining an understanding of the impact such a disease has on family and relationships.
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This is a very depressing book, which only made it harder for me to read and get into it. Richard is a world known concert pianist, who definitely knows how accomplished he is and how the crowds adore him.  Then, he gets an ALS diagnosis, and finds everything that once was so easy for him, gradually gets harder and harder to do and his career has ended.  His one-time, now divorced wife Karina also is an also accomplished pianist.  However, years ago, Karina let her would-be career go for the sake of her marriage and motherhood. Now, after years of gradually growing farther and farther apart, Karina has become Richard’s reluctant caretaker. As time passes, the pair try to reconcile their life together-- their love, their hopes and dreams, the reasons things turned out as they did. They have a college-aged daughter, Grace, who is likewise caught up in the marriage and its after dramatic effects, though Grace does not play a big role in the story.

I really had difficulty reading this book.  It was well done and realistic, as the reader moved, along with Richard, in the throes of this terrible, devastating disease. The stark reality of ALS and what it can and will do to one’s body became very apparent and consuming.  I am not sure the author should have had the pair divorced, with a myriad of other problems besides the disease.  I wondered, as I read, if this might be what was putting the story over the top, making it so very difficult to read and enjoy.  I also am not sure about the characters, as neither Richard nor Karina came across as really all that likeable to me. It was tough to become an observer of their mixed up and unhappy lives. I am not sure if it would have been easier to take if they had been a happily married couple coping with the very worst that life can throw at you. I just know I had a lot of difficulty getting into and staying with this story.  I have read other books by this author, and, as with this one, she definitely brings the reader right into the middle of things and does a superb job illustrating the disease and its effects.  Her descriptions of life with ALS were very real and interesting, though I almost could not take it some of the time. This is a very real story of what ALS does to one, as well as how things can go from wrong to right (sort of) and never quite get back on an even keel in a marriage or in life. I am not sure which kind of reader will enjoy this one. It can be difficult to take and read, but it also provides a good picture of ALS and its devastation, while showing the life of two broken individuals who try desperately to pick up the pieces but never seem to quite get things right. I received this from NetGalley to read and review.
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First, I need to mention that I received an egalley of this novel, in exchange for a honest review. Like all of Lisa Genova's previous novels, this novel does not fail. Right from the beginning,, I connected with the characters of Karina and Richard and their storylines. It was full of heart, sadness, and knowledge about the effects of ALS, not only on the person suffering but for the family and friends that are connected to that person. I suggest that you pick up this novel, if you would like a good story and would like to learn more about ALS.
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Thank you Netgalley for the opportunity to preview this ARC of Every Note Played.

Lisa Genova can expose a wretched disease in a raw and humbling way like no one can.  I learned so much about Alzheimer's by reading Finding Alice, and so much about Huntington's when I read Inside the O'brien's.  This time I got a harsh close up look at ALS in this story of Every Note Played.

First off, let me say that aside from really doing her research about the disease that her book is centered around, Genova can tell a story!  Her stories are complex and gripping, as well as educational.  In Every Note Played, our ALS victim is Richard, who is currently divorced and estranged from his one daughter Grace.  Adding insult to injury, Richard is a world renowned concert pianist who discovers his disease when he loses his abilities to play the piano the way he is accustomed to.

Richard, being a bit of a free loving wreck loose, doesn't have a strong support network, or anyone that is exceptionally close to him.  Enter Karina, his ex-wife, who has as much contempt for him as he does for her.  But not enough to leave him alone, without care, and in the grips of this paralyzing disease.  

Just like Genova's other novels, this was not easy to read.  They don't end well, we know this going in.  But I also really appreciate how much I learn when I read them because now I have such a stronger understanding of these diseases, as well as compassion.
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Every Note Played did not pack the emotional punch for me that other novels by Lisa Genova, but it was an immersing and realistic depiction of the struggles of living with ALS, or caring for someone with the disease.  I found the animosity between the main characters a bit undeveloped - the back story that was presented didn't seem to justify the level of almost hate that they felt for each other, and it honestly didn't make a ton of sense when she elected to be his primary caregiver.  But, the bones of the story were good, and I did thoroughly enjoy it overall.
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As a special education teacher and six weeks shy of completing my master's degree in special education, I loved the book. I think it painted a realistic picture not only of the debilitating disease, ALS, but the anger and other feelings that come with losing control of your body. Many people who never had control also struggle with these feelings. Richard's fast plummet into paralysis was sad yet realistic to anyone going through ALS or other diseases that leave its victims paralyzed, a shell of their past self.
I found some of the assistive technology mentioned fascinating like the HeadMouse. It's amazing how technology has been able to help make the lives of people easier than anything they may have experienced only a decade ago.
The feelings between Richard and Karina are so realistic for a divorced couple. The irony between the divorce and "death do us part" in this book is sad yet satisfying. Their growing relationship shows how sometimes life is so much more important than a divorce and Karina's love for Richard, even divorced is honorable and heartwarming. The hatred she feels for Richard is overcome with her compassion as a human being and she slowly learns to look past his flaws and begin to forgive and come to peace with where their lives have taken them. Her feelings of resentment are very understandable and I ended up feeling bad for all parties involved for all of the different reasons they're suffering.
Lisa Genova did a great job painting the hardships and disappointments of ALS and also painting a picture of relationships. The feelings involved were realistic and she did not set out to make our characters perfect just because of the disease. It was a great read  and very informative no matter if you were interested in the ALS portion or the character developments.
The many references to Stephen Hawking were surreal. They were important in understanding the disease if you were unfamiliar with it. It was surprising being that Stephen Hawking just died, clearly after the book was written but before it was published. It's a sad thought.
All in all, I loved it. It was inspiring, sad, and eye opening beautiful.
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Richard Evans loves music. He loves it so much that he chooses his career as a classical pianist over his family. Conflict reigns in his household, but it doesn't matter as long as he has access to his art...

We all know where this is heading. For Richard, diagnosed with ASL is equivalent to dropping dead. His music career is no more now that he cannot use his hands, and as he tackles with this life-threatening illness, and the heartbreak and despair that come with it, he encounters some important revelations, and must decide what's important in life.

"He can feel it coming, an invisible presence creeping, like ions charged and buzzing in the air before an approaching electrical storm, and all he can do is lie still and wait for it to pass through him."

This is not an easy read. Lisa Genova writes a beautiful and compelling story about passion and priorities, and how one blurs the other. More important, one should not outdo the other, especially with your marriage and children. The writing transports you, the message moves you, and the message -- while difficult -- is on point. If you're in the bargain for a literary novel with heart, I suggest you read this wonderful book. I give it five iced Cinnamon Almond Milk Macchiatos.
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This is the second book I have read of Lisa Genova's. The first was Still Alice, which I read twice and watched the movie.  Both of these books share a first hand experience of living with a devastating disease.  

    In the book Every Note Played, Richard a concert pianist is diagnosed with ALS.  The book shows how Richard has to live with the fast progressing disease and also how it effects his ex-wife Karina and his family. Every note played is not just about ALS it is also a story of a broken family struggling to get past the hurt and help each other through a very difficult time. When I started reading Every Note Played I thought I knew about ALS. But, thanks to Lisa Genova this book has taught me there is so much more to learn.

   This book would make a great Book club selection and I hope to see it in a movie soon.  I look forward to reading the other books by this author.

    Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for the opportunity to read this book for my honest review.
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i had high hopes for this one, as high hopes as you can have for a book about ALS, knowing it will rip out your heart and stomp all over it. 

I read Still Alice in 2015 and I've had other Lisa Genova books on my list since then, but seriously, my heart was still bruised from Still Alice. That book wrecked me. It was heartbreaking but so... I don't know, real, emotional, just got right in my soul, you know? So when I saw this on netgalley, I was like YES perfect, it's about time I got back in the Genova saddle, what better way than with a netgalley book I 'have' to read, and one where the hype or reviews won't get to me before I start it. 

I mean, I still had high expectations based on loving Still Alice. I waited for when I was at home, with nothing to do, so I could bawl my eyes out and demand a hug when needed.

Except.. I didn't need a hug. I am a super sensitive emotional crybaby. So I cried, at the end. And I got emotional during the book when you can just feel the despair and hopelessness.

But other than that? It just did not get in my soul. I realise that sounds trite or ridiculous, but I just felt so disconnected from these characters, they were not likable or relatable to me. Of course, I feel like an ass saying a guy with ALS isn't likable, but I'm sorry, he wasn't. He didn't deserve ALS, no one does, fictional or not, but I just... didn't care.. no, that's wrong. It was sad, but I didn't feel like I was losing a family member, the way I felt when I read Still Alice. I didn't like any of the main characters except for Bill or Dr George.

Genova is a fantastic writer, but this one just felt a lot more detached, impersonal. I wanted to love it. I wanted it to destroy me, truly. I love a good emotional book. But this one was... I'm sorry, just not for me. 

All that being said, I am more aware of ALS than ever before and I do appreciate that Genova wrote this book and shared what she shared. My review is based purely on my enjoyment of the book, which unfortunately was not where I wanted it to be.
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Richard is an accomplished concert pianist, he has gone around the world to play and has received lots of standing ovations.  He is an amazing pianist and he knows it, he also knows that is best asset is his hands and he takes care of them a lot.  He also spends most of his day practicing on the piano because to him to be this amazing and know how to play this well you have to keep practicing, practicing is everything.  But everything has changed for Richard, he now has ALS and the first thing he lost was his entire right arm, the whole arm, including his hand and fingers is paralyzed.  This first loss is like a death, a loss of true love.  He is in denial first, he goes and sees all the medical doctors and all the ALS medical team that he needs to see, but it all goes in one ear and out the other.  He knows the next thing to go will be his left arm and he can't even imagine how that will be like.

Then there is Karina, Karina is Richard's ex wife.  They have been divorced for three years, she tells herself that she is ready to move on, but the truth is, she hasn't moved on.  She is always finding excuses and she is afraid to go after her dream, so she's stuck been a piano teacher and blaming Richard for their failed marriage and all of it.  

But when Richard becomes paralyzed and is longer able to live on his own, Karina becomes his caretaker.  As Richard's muscles, voice and breath fade, both he and Karina try to find a way to reconcile their past and find a way to forgiveness.  

One of the things that I loved about this book is that is told on both Richard and Karina's POV; to get to know what each of them are going through and what happened to them in the past and the reasons that got them to where they are now.  Getting to know both POVs and know what Richard is feeling as to what he's going through is so inspiring and heart breaking at the same time, I cried and believe me it was multiple times.  And yes there were times that I also got mad at him, why?  Because, Richard was been brutally honest and for the first time in his life he realized that he did screw up a lot with his wife and daughter and we got to read about it.  Don't think I also didn't get upset a Karina, yes I could totally understand her from the beginning but the more she opened up and the more honest she became we also got to see that she was at fault too.  But I really think the main focus of the book was the ALS and how quick it can change someone's life, either you want it or not.  And it will not only change the person going through it but also the caregiver and the family members too.  It's heartbreaking and emotionally draining to just read a little about it, I give so much respect for all the medical team that are involved with those patients, also to  all the families going through it, the caregivers and my heart goes out to all the patients.  

Lisa Genova did such an amazing job writing this book, the story was inspiring, it touched the subject on such a respected way.  Her writing is amazing, once you start reading you just cannot stop, the book becomes a page turner.  Bow down to her...

Finally I only have to give this book 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it a million times.  Please, please read it and recommend it.
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Lisa Genova has hit it out of the park AGAIN!!!! A wonderfully informative, sensitive and heartbreaking story of a concert pianist who learns he has aggressive ALS and the ex-wife who decides to take care of him throughout his illness. The family relationship that was splintered because of his infidelity and travel and the things left unsaid all play a part in this wonderful book. This is sure to be a bestseller!
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I had a hard time reading this book through the tears I was shedding. I think ALS is a terrible disease, It honestly took me no time to read this book because I did not want to put it down. It's a "medical drama" but it's super compelling. I hadn't ever read a book by this author before this one and I am so glad I found her. I have read other reviews that say most of her books are phenomenal and often tear-jerkers, so I'm going to keep her in mind when I need a nice tear-jerker book!
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Did not finish the book .  unable to connect with the characters and chose not to finish the book.
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This was a difficult book to read. Not because Every Note Played was poorly written, but because Lisa Genova has done such a masterful job of portraying the anguish brought about by the debilitating Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis also know as Lou Gehrig’s Disease.

While ALS would devastate anyone of the population unfortunate enough to contract this fatal illness, how much worse for a world renowned concert pianist to watch his distinguished acclaim shattered as the muscles in his limp arms and hands are no longer able to respond to even simple commands, leaving the keys on his Steinway Grand gathering dust.

Richard’s career always took precedence over both his wife and daughter. Karina, also a gifted pianist, resented her assigned status as a second class talent when their move to Boston wiped out her plans to play jazz in New York City. After Grace came along, Karina found herself a stay-at-home mom, raising a daughter while giving a bunch of talentless kids piano lessons. As Richard’s reputation soared, resentment blossomed in his wife, inflamed by her husband’s gadding about, leaving his family to fend for themselves as he pursued his own passions – both on the stage and in his mistresses’ beds. Divorce was inevitable.

Left there this would just be another tale of two college students with common interests who fall in love, marry and start a family, torn apart by diverging, incompatible life goals leading to a bitter divorce. Yet what happens when a disease such as ALS knocks at ones door mummifying the body while keeping cognition intact? Denial is the first reaction as Richard refuses to ask for help and Karina fails to recognize the seriousness of the situation until it is almost too late. However, despite their differences, Karina finds herself the caretaker for a man she has hated most of her adult life. Richard, at the mercy of the woman he has hurt, doesn’t know how to ask for forgiveness, but has no where else to turn as his physical and financial assets dwindle. Genova, adept at exposing the underside of various crippling diseases through her novels, takes us through the process, step by step, watching the couple try to find peace in a situation which becomes increasingly grave.

Not for the squeamish, since the author does not sugar coat any of the details, often getting down and dirty as she describes the effects on both victims – the man with the disease and the caretaker. The reader who finishes this book does not leave unscathed.

Since Every Note Played was written two events have occurred – the death of 72 year old Stephen Hocking who chose to miraculously extend his life by using a ventilator and the approval by the FDA of a new drug Radicava, which in trials has slowed the decline of physical ailments by up to 33 percent. Like everything else connected with ALS, the cost of survival is beyond the means of most and it is unclear whether insurance companies will cover the monthly $1000 infusions. Still, a positive step forward for this catastrophic disorder which destroys indiscriminately.

Four stars and a thank you to Netgalley for providing this ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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There is an analogy in this book that talks of a racing car in the distance and then suddenly it is parked next to you.  The car signifies ALS, but it also correlates to the ending of this book.  You know what is going to happen, you can see it in the distance, and then suddenly there you are with Richard struggling for his last breath. 

Narcissistic Richard Evans has played in the greatest music halls around the world and has admitted that he loved music, the standing ovations, and the adoration of his fans more than he loved his daughter Grace. That he made decisions for his family solely on what he wanted and in turn crushed his wife’s soul and alienated his daughter.  When the weakness first began in his finger and then progress to his hand, his manager told the world that it was tendonitis yet the truth was much more devastating. Now having to come to terms with a withering body and an ex-wife that is his caregiver, Richard must confront the choices that he has made and the family that he has pushed aside so that he could live the life that he thought he deserved.  

As Richard becomes trapped in his body, he must come to terms, and in his own way, travel the five stages of grief -- denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.  It is with the final stage that he begins to repair the damage that he has created, and with it, regaining an honesty and peace though apology and forgiveness, that he had stubbornly denied those that needed it most.
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A world-renowned musician receives a devastating medical diagnosis. As his condition deteriorates his estranged ex-wife becomes his caretaker, and the two of them reflect on their relationship as everything comes to an end. Author Lisa Genova brings all her scientific knowledge to illuminate yet another mystifying disease in the informative yet unsatisfying novel Every Note Played.

Richard Evans knows how to enthrall a crowd. He’s done it for years, and the attention makes him preen. Piano fans all over the globe have listened to him play the most complicated pieces with flawlessness. 

Of course, his personal life is far from flawless. After several years of resentment and neglect, his wife decides she’s had enough and they get a divorce. But that doesn’t really matter to Richard. Why does he need the attention of one woman when the entire world sits with bated breath at his feet?

Then comes the day when his fingers stop doing what he wants them to, and Richard goes to the doctor. He doesn’t have tendinitis or any other condition common to pianists. Richard has Lou Gehrig’s disease, known in the medical world as Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis‎, or ALS. Most research states he’ll die within five years.

Since the divorce, Karina has done what she can to live a normal life. She sits at a piano day after day trying to impart some love and appreciation for the instrument to kids who come for lessons. The majority of them plunk their way through those 30-minute sessions, torture for students and teacher both.

Karina despises Richard, no doubt about that. When she had the opportunity to take her own music career forward in a major way, he convinced her to move from New York City to Boston. The move benefitted Richard tenfold. It took Karina’s music away from her. It didn’t help that she started as a classical pianist like Richard and veered into the world of jazz, something Richard has sneered at time and again. No, she’s happy to have her space now that he’s gone.

Then she finds out about Richard’s diagnosis. Her initial attempts to offer her sympathy get rebuffed, but that doesn’t surprise her. What does surprise her is the day Richard calls, desperate after he falls and no one is around to help. Even though she would rather slam the cover of the piano keys over her own fingers repeatedly, Karina tells Richard he needs to move out of his Boston brownstone and back in with her.

As Richard’s disease progresses, the two find neutral ground. When Richard musters up the courage to tell Grace, their college-aged daughter, about his disease, Karina acts as mediator between the two. Whether she wants to forgive him or not for the utter carelessness he showed her during their marriage, Karina realizes she won’t have a choice. One way or the other, she will simply have to let Richard go.

Author Lisa Genova shows her command once again in tackling a neuroscientific disease. As with her other books, Genova takes the complicated issues surrounding the disease and presents them in laymen’s terms. If a person knows absolutely nothing about ALS before reading Every Note Played, they will be armed with a wealth of information by the end of the novel. 

It’s truly a shame, then, that Genova’s detailed research and lively descriptions aren’t supported by characters worthy of either. Richard’s arrogance as a concert pianist may seem justified in the start of the book, but his arrogance never wavers. Even when he’s completely dependent on Karina for the simplest of tasks like wiping his chin, everything about his life revolves around what he thinks and wants.

As the wronged wife, Karina may deserve sympathy at first. At some point her willingness to let Richard push her around makes her character balance that fine edge between a dignified partner and a whiny victim. It’s hard to tell sometimes what role she wants to play.

Their daughter, Grace, figures into the book more as a placeholder. The story really revolves around Richard and Karina and their individual struggles. Even knowing they were previously married makes it difficult to imagine them as a unit. They don’t like one another at all, which may make it harder for readers to suspend their disbelief when Karina allows Richard to come back home for the duration of his life. 

Fans of Genova’s work will definitely appreciate her careful detailing. For other readers, however, I suggest they Borrow Every Note Played.
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