Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Still Alice by Lisa Genova

5 Star

When Alice Howland, a Harvard professor in her fifties, starts noticing how forgetful she's becoming she ignores it until more confusing episodes occur. When forced to recognize something might be wrong, she receives a diagnosis of early onset Alzheimer's disease. We follow Alice, the novel told from her perspective, as she struggles to maintain her independence and lifestyle while her husband and children try to protect her, dealing with her illness and watching the mother and wife they knew slip away. 

Lydia - 5 Star

I simply could not put Still Alice down even though at times I found it tough to read mostly due to the subject matter. It was also difficult following the narration as her thoughts were jumbled at times, no doubt the intention of the author whose writing was exceptional in this and I truly felt I was becoming unraveled right along with Alice.

A haunting and heartbreaking portrayal, but one so desperately needed to shed light and understanding on this devastating disease. I laughed, I cried out and held my breath through parts of this book, not to mention cried quite profusely at the end and yelled at my husband for interrupting me by calling during my last several pages, ruining the ending (it was a succession of three calls all in the last three pages!).

Despite my ‘ruined’ ending, I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and would recommend Still Alice to anyone looking for a fascinating, real, thought provoking read. 5 Star!

Kathryn - 5 Star

Still Alice is a must read kind of book- written in a way that is engaging on a topic that is absolutely heartbreaking, this is a novel that everyone should read. Alzheimer’s disease is almost impossible to understand if you are not experiencing it yourself and it’s not something that seems to be discussed in novels with a huge amount of detail so to tackle this journey is impressive.

The fact that the author chose to have Alice be diagnosed with early Alzheimer’s is even more eye-opening as we can see how someone still working while being a parent and wife is trying to cope with things becoming more and more difficult, hiding it from her co-workers and family. In fact, the whole story is told by Alice, so we are mostly given her perspective on her memory lapses and her family’s reactions to her. Because we are taken through the moments of lucidity and the moments of confusion, as if we were the patient ourselves, there’s nothing to hide behind. I felt every range of emotion with her from frustration to anger to helplessness.

At the end I was praying that I would not ever have to face this myself. The details that the author gave us were excellent too- from the fact that she was careful to explain some of the possible things that could be done to stem the disease to Alice forgetting her daughters’ names and referring to them by “the mother” and “the actress”.

Frankly I’m astonished by Lisa Genova’s ability and feeling in writing Still Alice and I would recommend everyone read it.

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