Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Book Review: "Still Alice" by Lisa Genova

Still Alice Lisa Genova
Published: July 6, 2007
ISBN: 9780595440092
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Source: Postal Book Club
Highly Recommended

You might enjoy this book if you like: Medical-based fiction, books with a strong female protagonist, family dramas

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 Judith Guest's Ordinary People.

My Thoughts:
Let me just start with this:  if you suffer from even the slightest case of hypochondria, I'm not sure you should read this book.

That is actually a compliment for the book, as well as being a warning.  I knew a bit about this book because of the recent movie (which I have not seen, but heard about it because of Julianne Moore's Oscar-winning performance), so I knew that this book would deal with early-onset Alzheimer's Disease.  I was aware that I would be reading an account of a woman losing herself to the disease and the effect of that on her family.  I knew I would be affected by this book--but I didn't realize how deeply it would be felt.

Genova had the perfect writing style for this book--she was able to catch the emotion and desperation that Alice experiences without getting tied up in itself. It would be easy to bog the narrative down with an exploration of emotions, but Genova resists that.  Don't get me wrong, the reader knows what Alice is feeling, but this isn't a dissertation on the emotions of one with Alzheimer's.  That sort of thing just wouldn't fit with the book and disrupt the narrative.

As a reader, there will be several moments in the book where you will find yourself wondering what you would do if this were you.  The moment that really stands out to me is when, after learning that her condition is genetic, she asks her children if they want to be tested to see if they will get tested.  I was left wondering what I would do in their situation?  Would I want to know?  Could I live with not knowing.

You may also find yourself wondering if that little thing you forgot was a sign of something worse.  Even though early-onset Alzheimer's is genetic and there is no history of it on either side of my family, I found myself becoming overly concerned whenever the slightest thing slipped my mind.  As I said, beware of this book if you are a hypochondriac!

Still Alice is a devastating work that humanizes something that so many of us are touched by.  I would highly recommend this book (to most people....)

I was not solicited for this review and I received no compensation for this post.

Still Alice
by Lisa Genova

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