Book Review: Still Alice by Lisa Genova

Dramatic and emotional books are ones that I read very rarely.  Mostly because with something so serious and profound, I need to be mentally relaxed to read.  However, Still Alice has been on my radar for a while.

still alice coverStill Alice is about a middle age woman called Alice Howland who is married, has an equally successful husband, two daughters and one son and resides in Boston on the Harvard campus as she is an expert in the psychology of linguistics.  I’m not much of an expert in these things so if I use the wrong terms, please excuse me.  Her success has lead her to write books and do guest conferences to talk about her professional expertise and teach others of what she has learned aside from also being a professor in Harvard.  However, things start changing when she realizes that she starts forgetting words during lectures, slipping her mind about catching a flight for the conference then she starts suspecting something is wrong and seeks her doctor to refer her to a neurologist when she forgets for a moment how to get home on a jog. This starts a new chapter in her life when she is finally diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. From there, we watch as she uses her ways as much as she can to keep her memory for as long as possible.  The tragedy of losing your memory and being confused and feeling useless overcomes Alice but this also allows her to see the ones she loved and neglected due to her career in a clearer perspective.

This is a very strong portrayal of Alzheimer’s.  I won’t know whether these symptoms are true or if someone going through this goes through such an extent or if its even dramatized.  I’ve never experienced it first hand as someone coping with family nor do I hope to.  But as a reader, this book was powerful because it efficiently drags you into the world of Alice.  I connected really quickly to the character and as her disease worsened and it affected her more and more, I couldn’t put the book down to see how she would deal with it. I haven’t actually read a book this fast and its not really a long book being shy of 300 pages.

Its definitely one that will tug at your heartstrings and bring you on an unexpected journey.  One very important part of this is to notice the detail.  Its set in third person narration but also uses Alice’s recollection and perspectives to retell her story.  It makes for a an interesting read when I first started that before she would say something and then afterwards, you see that her memory fools her into thinking something else.  For a moment, I looked at the difference and had to flip back to double check if there really was a lapse in her memory.

I’m definitely recommending this book.  I found it to be quite an interesting and unique reading experience.   To look so closely at such an increasingly popular incurable disease is tragic but bittersweet.  It really tells how life is unexpected and hands us lots of lemons and its really up to us to try to turn it into lemonade.  The obvious message is to understand the symptoms of Alzheimer’s and to be aware of the damage that it can do and to not wave it as a possibility  no matter what age, but the hidden message is that we need to treat life and be grateful of what we have and our loved ones because they can vanish from our lives without even a trace and sometimes, there isn’t anything we can do about it.

Have you read Still Alice? Did you enjoy it? Was there something that bothered you?

7 thoughts on “Book Review: Still Alice by Lisa Genova

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