Posted by: istop4books | April 19, 2009

Still Alice by Lisa Genova

Still Alice Still Alice by Lisa Genova

My review


rating: 5 of 5 stars
I just finished Still Alice by Lisa Genova and what an remarkable book. It was a book I couldn’t put down, and even now that I’ve finished it, I can’t seem to get it off my mind.

It’s the story of Alice Howland, age 50, Harvard psychology professor, a smart, physically fit, capable woman, mother of three, and wife. Through a series of small, individually insignificant memory lapses, which when added together become troublesome, she finds out that she has what must her everyone’s worst nightmare – early onset Alzheimer’s disease. Not only does she have the disease, she carries the gene which could have been passed on to her three children.

The book is written from Alice’s point of view, and reads like a memoir, without an ounce of over-sentimentality. As such, the author allows the reader to just observe and look into the window of the bizarre land that Alice’s mind lives in.

The progression of the disease is heartbreaking and the author moves through it flawlessly. From having full and complete knowledge of where this will take her and what steps Alice should take to deal with it – to the inevitable retreat into the world of oblivioun, we see the daily steps that get Alice nearer and nearer to a point of heartbreaking lack of awareness.

Within the narrative, we get a small glimpse into Alice’s life at Harward, how her colleagues react to the news, the human frailty of not wanting to deal with her disease, almost like when we were kids and someone in 3rd grade was deemed to have cooites. It happens, we see it, we do it, but in this book we feel it. Alice’s relationship with her husband, John and her 3 children, changes, and we are privy to the changes – some good, some not so good. At the same time, Alice during her moments of lucidity deals with issues of self-worth, of self-preservation , the medical field, support groups and the practical aspects of meeting her day to day challenges.

Being 52 years old myself, I found the book frightening. When Alice was given her memory tests, I found myself competing with her, proving to myself that her symptoms are totally different from my forgetfulness. But as I forgot what page I was on, or started thinking of my own word retrieval issues, and of all the times I walk into the kitchen and can’t remember what I went in there for, I found the book hitting increasingly close to home. I don’t think I have Alzheimer’s disease – but how quickly our lives can go from “I can’t find my keys” to “I don’t remember what kind of car I drive.”

View all my reviews.

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Responses

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    Jinny

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