Every Note Played By Lisa Genova: Book's Review and Summary

Every Note Played Audiobook on CD by Lisa Genova, Dennis Boutsikaris


Every Note Played: A Compelling Story of the Human Spirit

Every Note Played by Lisa Genova is a powerful and thought-provoking novel that explores the complexity of human relationships and the human spirit’s ability to persevere through adversity. Genova, who is a neuroscientist, is known for her ability to craft compelling stories that weave science and the human experience together seamlessly. In Every Note Played, she brings to life the story of a concert pianist who is diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease) and how he and his ex-wife come to terms with the past and the present as they navigate his illness together.

Main Themes and Ideas Presented in the Book

Every Note Played is a story that is as much about the struggle of the human spirit as it is about the day-to-day challenges of living with a debilitating illness. While the novel focuses primarily on the character of Richard, the pianist, it is clear that Genova has crafted every character in the book with care and attention to detail. The novel examines the themes of forgiveness, regret, and the power of human connection.

One of the most profound ideas that Genova explores in Every Note Played is the power of music and how it can both heal and hurt. As Richard’s illness progresses, his relationship with music becomes more complex. At first, it is his refuge from the world, but as his physical abilities decline, his relationship with music becomes more fraught. As his ex-wife Karina becomes his caretaker, she witnesses the power of music in a more intimate way than ever before.

Critical Evaluation of the Writing Style and the Author’s Message

Lisa Genova’s writing style is fluid and engaging, and she has a gift for creating vivid and engaging characters that readers can’t help but connect with. This is no small feat given the complexity of the issues she is addressing in Every Note Played. The novel is both heart-wrenching and uplifting, and Genova never shies away from the harsh realities of life with a degenerative disease.

What is particularly effective about Genova’s writing in Every Note Played is the way she presents the story from the perspectives of both Richard and Karina. This approach allows the reader to gain insight into the complexities of their relationship and how they each cope with the challenges they face. Genova’s message is clear: the human spirit is capable of incredible resilience and strength, even in the face of unimaginable adversity.

However, it is worth noting that some readers may find the novel’s exploration of ALS difficult to read. Genova’s descriptions of the disease are graphic and unsparing, and this may be a challenge for some readers. That being said, for those willing to take the journey with Genova, the novel is ultimately a rewarding one that speaks to the power of love, resilience, and the human spirit.

Strengths and Weaknesses of the Book

The most significant strength of Every Note Played is the depth and complexity of the characters. Both Richard and Karina are flawed and multifaceted, and their relationship is presented with nuance and sensitivity. Genova is particularly adept at exploring the complex emotions that arise when dealing with illness and caregiving, and she captures the frustrations, fears, and joys of these experiences with striking accuracy.

However, one weakness of the book is its pacing. While the novel is by no means slow-moving, there are moments where the narrative seems to slow down, particularly in the latter half of the book. Additionally, while Genova does an excellent job of exploring the nuances of the relationship between Richard and Karina, some readers may find the book’s exploration of ALS to be overly graphic or distressing.

Comparison to Other Works in its Genre

Every Note Played has drawn comparisons to other novels that explore the topic of illness and caregiving, such as The Fault in Our Stars and Still Alice. However, what sets Every Note Played apart is its grounding in both the human experience and the scientific realities of neurological disorders. Genova’s background in neuroscience is evident in her exploration of the physiological effects of ALS, and this adds a layer of depth and complexity to the book that is not always present in other works in this genre.


Every Note Played is a moving and thought-provoking novel that will resonate with readers long after they turn the final page. Lisa Genova’s ability to craft complex and nuanced characters is on full display in this book, and her exploration of the human experience of illness and caregiving is both honest and empathetic. While some readers may be put off by the graphic descriptions of ALS, those willing to take the journey with Genova will be rewarded with a novel that speaks to the power of love, resilience, and the human spirit.


What inspired Lisa Genova to write Every Note Played?

Lisa Genova was inspired to write Every Note Played after attending a conference on ALS. While there, she met people living with the disease, and their stories left a profound impact on her. She has stated that she wrote the novel as a way to draw attention to the realities of living with a degenerative neurological disorder and to give voice to the experiences of those impacted by the disease.

What is the significance of the title Every Note Played?

The title Every Note Played refers to the idea that every moment in life – both the good and the bad – is a note in the symphony of our lives. In the novel, music plays an important role, and the concept of every note played serves as a powerful metaphor for the journey Richard and Karina find themselves on as they confront the challenges of Richard’s illness.

What is the reception of Every Note Played?

Every Note Played has been well-received by both critics and readers. The book has been praised for its keen insights into the human spirit and its honest and empathetic portrayal of the challenges of living with a degenerative neurological disorder. The novel has been compared to other works in the genre, such as The Fault in Our Stars and Still Alice, but has been lauded for its unique perspective and its grounding in both the human experience and scientific reality.

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