Sunday, July 12, 2015

Book review: Still Alice by Lisa Genova

I just finished this wonderful book and couldn't wait to tell you about it. I knew that the movie adaptation was something I was interested in seeing, but as the book is usually better than the movie, I wanted to start with the original story.

Lately my husband is going to bed earlier than I am able to (poor thing wakes up at 4:45 each morning!) and so I was experimenting with different flashlights to read with so that his slumber is undisturbed. The best solution is a headlamp with a red light. Not only is it highly fashionable (ha!), it allows me to keep both hands on this riviting read.

Back to the book.

Still Alice is a first person account of a women with tenure at Harvard, a career in linguistics, a husband and three adult children. Each chapter is one month of Alice's life. What kicks off as small forgetful moments of forgetfulness that Alice wishes to write off as being overworked, over stressed or menopause snowballs into a devastating diagnosis: Alzheimers at the age of 50.

As the months progress, so too does her illness. She copes and adapts in different ways and so too does her family. The disease progresses in spurts, changing course at times but eventually continues downhill. There is no cure, there is no stopping it.

Lisa Genova tells a tale that makes it too easy to picture yourself in Alice's shoes. It is terrifying. She also gently reminds us that people are always people, even if they are becoming just a shadow of their former self. Working in a hospital, I got frustrated on the patents' behalf when caregivers would talk about and around a person sitting in the same room.

This is a wonderful, important novel to read and I highly recommend it. While my husband was fast asleep, I was crying to the red light of my headlamp. I couldn't put it down to finish it another time, I had to stick with Alice until the bittersweet end. I hope you will too.

What are you reading and would you recommend it?

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