Saturday, June 13, 2009

Still Alice by Lisa Genova

You know you've come across a great book when you're still thinking about it as you lay down to go to bed for the night. I was stunned by how real Alice was to me. It gave me an insight into this disease that I might not have otherwise had.

There was a scene in Still Alice, where Alice, a Harvard professor heads to one of her classes thinking she's going as a student, and doesn't even realize that this is a class she's supposed to be teaching. After 20 minutes go by, she gets up and checks her watch, glances over at another student and remarks, "Well I don't know about you, but I have better things to do with my time." I was awestruck after that. Wow. Alice mentions that she struggles with wishing she was diagnosed with cancer instead because at least she could have the option to fight. But with Alzheimer's, she was very aware that her memory was fading and she had to live through the humiliation of what episodes she would endure in front of her family, her colleagues and friends. I was brought to tears at times because it was so sad and others because it was so touching. It took me a while to process the entire story once I was finished. And I knew the author ended it the way she did, because she wanted the reader to really think through the entire situation. Powerful. And totally amazing that this is Lisa Genova's first novel.

I look forward to more from Lisa Genova and applaud her thoroughness and detail in describing for her readers in a very accurate, clinical and emotional way what Alzheimer's can do to an individual and a family.

Description: Still Alice is a compelling debut novel about a 50-year-old woman's sudden descent into early onset Alzheimer's disease, written by first-time author Lisa Genova, who holds a Ph. D in neuroscience from Harvard University.
Alice Howland, happily married with three grown children and a house on the Cape, is a celebrated Harvard professor at the height of her career when she notices a forgetfulness creeping into her life. As confusion starts to cloud her thinking and her memory begins to fail her, she receives a devastating diagnosis: early onset Alzheimer's disease. Fiercely independent, Alice struggles to maintain her lifestyle and live in the moment, even as her sense of self is being stripped away. In turns heartbreaking, inspiring and terrifying, Still Alice captures in remarkable detail what's it's like to literally lose your mind...

Reminiscent of A Beautiful Mind, Ordinary People and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, Still Alice packs a powerful emotional punch and marks the arrival of a strong new voice in fiction.

Recommend: In a heartbeat.

Rating: ****


Ti said...

Wow. That bit you included about sitting in the class as a student... wow. Really gives you an idea of the complexity of her condition.

Book Escape said...

I've heard other good things about this one. The part you provided from the book made me shiver.