From neuroscientist and New York Times bestselling author of Still Alice comes a powerful exploration of regret, forgiveness, freedom, and what it means to be alive.
An accomplished concert pianist, Richard received standing ovations from audiences all over the world in awe of his rare combination of emotional resonance and flawless technique. Every finger of his hands was a finely calibrated instrument, dancing across the keys and striking each note with exacting precision. That was eight months ago.
Richard now has ALS, and his entire right arm is paralyzed. His fingers are impotent, still, devoid of possibility. The loss of his hand feels like a death, a loss of true love, a divorce—his divorce.
He knows his left arm will go next.
Three years ago, Karina removed their framed wedding picture from the living room wall and hung a mirror there instead. But she still hasn’t moved on. Karina is paralyzed by excuses and fear, stuck in an unfulfilling life as a piano teacher, afraid to pursue the path she abandoned as a young woman, blaming Richard and their failed marriage for all of it.
When Richard 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.
Richard Evans hasn’t exactly been the best husband and father. He sacrificed his wife and daughter for his art. In their place, the piano became his lover and his child. There is no room for imperfection and regrets. Until now.
When he first was diagnosed with ALS, he refused to believe that fate could be so cruel. He’s far too young to lose both his music and his life. Now all he can hope for is that he can finally gain absolution from those he so carelessly cast aside.
He sits back at his bench, readying to play it again. He positions his left hand on the keys, but instead of hearing the orchestra begin in his mind’s ear, he hears only the oppressive silence of his empty apartment and a voice in his head, an arrogant naysayer stealing his confidence, talking him out of this pathetic plan.
Karina left her native Poland because she wanted so much more from life than just being a wife and a mother. She wanted to explore music and find her own path. But that is exactly what she became when she fell in love with Richard.
Her career and aspirations always took a backseat to his and after the birth of their daughter Grace, she completely forgot who she was. Their divorce was a strange mercy, but with a tragic blow from destiny, they are forced to come face to face with the frailties of love and healing power of forgiveness.
And she could blame Richard and his affairs for holding her back. He was wrong and bad, and she was right and good, and she could resent him for her unfulfilled dreams of playing jazz, and this was the perfect excuse, the brilliant smoke screen deflecting anyone who might inspect the situation for the truth. The truth is, she was terrified of failing, of not making it, of never being as recognized and loved as an artist as Richard is.
I thought I knew what I was in for when I started reading Every Note Played, but I never expected how beautifully Lisa Genova could make me ache with only words.
With characters that are both flawed and at times, needlessly cruel, she skillfully makes their longing and regret so tangible that I found myself experiencing all of the emotions right along with them.
It’s heartbreaking in its honesty about all of the things taken for granted, clinical in its design and desperate in its search for mercy. And it will open your eyes to the fragile power of love…
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