Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Still Alice

Still Alice by Lisa Genova

Within the last 10 years, we've witnessed my grandfather go through the different stages of Alzheimer's disease. It's awfully painful when familiar like that, but tragically intriguing when one is able to step back and look through the lens of a scientific approach. This book takes you through both. You sense the struggles Alice is going through, feel the heartbreak her husband is dealing with, and sympathize with her children as they attempt to grasp their own understanding of the situation. It's beautifully written and had me hooked from the beginning. Not a feel-good book, but one that I am most definitely glad I read.

From Publishers Weekly on

Neuroscientist and debut novelist Genova mines years of experience in her field to craft a realistic portrait of early onset Alzheimer's disease. Alice Howland has a career not unlike Genova's—she's an esteemed psychology professor at Harvard, living a comfortable life in Cambridge with her husband, John, arguing about the usual (making quality time together, their daughter's move to L.A.) when the first symptoms of Alzheimer's begin to emerge. First, Alice can't find her Blackberry, then she becomes hopelessly disoriented in her own town. Alice is shocked to be diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer's (she had suspected a brain tumor or menopause), after which her life begins steadily to unravel. She loses track of rooms in her home, resigns from Harvard and eventually cannot recognize her own children. The brutal facts of Alzheimer's are heartbreaking, and it's impossible not to feel for Alice and her loved ones, but Genova's prose style is clumsy and her dialogue heavy-handed. This novel will appeal to those dealing with the disease and may prove helpful, but beyond the heartbreaking record of illness there's little here to remember. (Jan.)
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