Book Rec: Every Note Played by Lisa Genova
Updated: May 19
“Not forgiving someone is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.”
From neuroscientist and bestselling author Lisa Genova, Every Note Played is a harrowing look at ALS, the powerful exploration of regret and what it means to be alive. I couldn’t put it down. Jump to the bottom for discussion guide on Every Note Played.
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. 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.
How do both Karina and Richard relate to music, specifically in what type they play? Do their musical preferences reflect their personalities?
While visiting Richard, Karina reflects on how "the story of their lives can be an entirely different genre depending on the narrator.” Explain this statement. Which instances do their perspectives reflect completely different memories?
I loved the idea of “legacy messages." If you could leave a message for someone, what would you say?
Do you know someone struggling with ALS? How did this book resonate with you?