"No one can be lonely who has a book for company." ~ Nelle Reagan

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Review: Still Alice by Lisa Genova

Still Alice
Author:  Lisa Genova
Publisher: Pocket Books, a division of Simon and Schuster
Copyright:  2009
Pages: 320
Edition:  Paperback
ISBN 978-1439102817
Includes:  Postscript, Readers' Club Guide, A Conversation With Lisa Genova
Source:  a loan from a friend

(from the cover) "Alice Howland is proud of the life she worked so hard to build.  At fifty years old, she's a cognitive psychology professor at Harvard and a world-renowned expert in linguistics with a successful husband and three grown children  When she becomes increasingly disoriented and forgetful, a tragic diagnosis changes her life--and her relationship with her family and the world--forever.

At once beautiful and terrifying, Still Alice is a moving and vivid depiction of life with early-onset Alzheimer's disease that is as compelling as A Beautiful Mind and as unforgettable as Ordinary People." 

My review:  Alice Howland has it made.  A career, a loving family, a successful husband, a beautiful life and one tragic diagnosis.  At fifty, Alice becomes increasingly aware that things aren't right, that her memory sometimes fails her, that she becomes disoriented occasionally and she wonders if it is related to menopause.  At first, that is.  When she finally sees a doctor and then a neurologist she must accept the truth.  The diagnosis that will alter her reality... forever.... early onset Alzheimer's.

Lisa Genova has captured the pain, the disappointment, the denial that accompanies such a diagnosis.  Sometimes brutally honest and yet, as her protagonist struggles with the everyday trials of living with Alzheimer's, not dying with but living with, a wonderful humour and warmth exudes from the pages of Still Alice.  The emotions wrought by this novel are surprisingly strong, making Still Alice a poignant and brilliant story that is unforgettable.  It is rare that one comes upon a book written from the perspective of an individual living with Alzheimer's and Lisa Genova tells it powerfully from Alice's point of view, from the inside looking out rather than the outside looking in and that's what makes this novel memorable. 

If you read one book this summer, make it Still Alice.  You may never look at life the same again.

Rated 5/5

About the Author:  Lisa Genova has written, with Still Alice, her first novel.  She has a PhD in neuroscience from Harvard University and contributes online to content for the National Alzheimer's Association.  Her newest novel, Left Neglected, is now in stores.

Eight words that Lisa Genova would use to describe her life:  "Blessed, expressive, unplanned, increasingly fearless, hopeful, full of love"

Personal note:  Still Alice is a significant novel for me as I watched my maternal grandmother decline and die and now an aunt struggling through the varying stages of Alzheimer's.  It is heartbreaking to watch as a life once so vital diminishes as the disease slowly destroys the mind of a loved one.  I love that Lisa wrote this book from the perspective she did as it helped bring a new understanding and perspective of the magnitude and sorrow that a diagnosis of Alzheimer's brings.  Thank you Lisa for reminding us that those with this diagnosis are living with Alzheimer's rather than dying with it.  

1 comment:

  1. This sounds like a great read, fabulous review. I am going to add this to my wish list.

    If your passing back feel free to join the giveaways

    Lainy http://www.alwaysreading.net


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