Still Alice Lisa Genova by Lisa Genova
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Alice Howland - Harvard professor, gifted researcher and lecturer, wife, and mother of three grown children - sets out for a run and soon realizes she has no idea how to find her way home. She has taken the route for years, but nothing looks familiar. She is utterly lost. Medical consults reveal early-onset Alzheimer's. Alice's slowly but inevitably loses memory and connection with reality, told from her perspective. She gradually loses the ability to follow a conversational thread, the story line of a book, or to recall information she heard just moments before. Genova's debut shows the disease progression through the reactions of others, as Alice does, so readers feel what she feels - a slowly building terror.
Reviews Still Alice reads like a memoir of Alzheimer's disease written by a family member but is in fact the first novel by a neuroscientist who, apart from being a great deal younger, lives the successful life of a top academic, as does Alice. The book is unputdownable. I read through the night; dawn came and went and still I couldn't put it down but I don't really know why. The writing was ok, a bit heavy-handed at times, the denouement was predetermined and inevitable but still the book was as gripping as any top-ten thriller. Perhaps it was the progress through a disease that strikes at random and about which we know almost nothing from the sufferer's point of view? Lisa Genova self-published the book and it has reached the rank of 150 in 'books' on Amazon. When I see a self-published book with 10 or 15 glowing reviews, mostly written by people who've never written a review before, I think they are probably the author's friends and dismiss the review in favor of one by an independent publication (if there is one). But when a self-published book attracts 190 reviews and a 5 star rating, I know that the book is definitely worth considering, not just for my own reading pleasure but also to order for my bookshop. This book is more than worthy of consideration, its ourselves, our families as we might be, and its a good read too.
This book was great. If you have gone through Alzheimer's Disase before with a loved one, you will recognize and love this character. The twist is that she has early-onset AD, so she is only 50 years old, her children are grown and she has a successful career. This was a great book. The story was great, the characters seemed real and believable, the writing was clear and direct. In fact, it reminded me a lot of Kite Runner because there too I just loved the story and the characters, but the writing was very simple, nothing fancy. I cried several times while reading it; I was sad to finish it and I still think about the book even when it is over. I just recently read Saturday which this reminded me of a little--the 50-something successful professionals, the PhD/MD connections, the successful grown children--but I felt that Saturday failed miserably at getting you to care about the characters or believe in them. They were too perfect, too annoying. Here the characters were lovable, real, imperfect. The story pulls you along, almost like a mystery going on with one woman's mind. You know where this is going, but you are so curious to see how it unfolds. How will she tell her children? What will
she do about her successful career? How will she cope? I think this would be a great book club book... there is a lot to discuss. I want so badly to talk about this book with someone. What would you do if you were diagnosed with Alzheimers in the middle of your life? How would it be to be the spouse? This book raises lots of questions and keeps you thinking. It also puts you so humbly in the shoes of a woman with Alzheimers, someone you can relate to.
I'm at the age where Early Onset Alzheimers comes closer to my radar. This book is the fictional story of a Harvard professor with the disease. I appreciated that the point of view was that of the affected person and not by a caregiver. It gave me a better understanding of how devastating it is as your life and dignity is slowly stolen from you. I think people often erroneously think that the disease is harder on a family member than it is on the victim (for lack of a better word). I've read reviews and comments from people that they did not find the characters likeable. I thought that the author made them realistic in all their human faults. I liked the characters quite well. The character I liked least was Alice's husband who was so immersed in denial that he made things extremely difficult for everyone and especially for Alice. I especially liked the relationship between Alice and her daughter "the actress" (as Alice called her towards the end having forgotten her name - as I have). This was a complex relationship often found in families. As parents, we want what we perceive to be the best for our children. They, on the other hand, strive to build their lives according to their own wants and desires. The resulting conflict can overshadow the bond of mother/daughter. I liked how this relationship changed from the beginning to the end of the book.
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