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and life along the winding road

Friday, October 9, 2015

Still Alice by Lisa Genova

From the cover:
Alice Howard 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.

Lisa Genova is a talented writer and her book Still Alice, which follows the story of Alice Howard who has early onset Alzheimer's disease, is both a difficult and compelling read. There was a lot of information thrown in that I had not known about Alzheimer's. Alice had assumed the mental confusion, disorientation and memory lapses were symptoms of menopause and not dementia.
The test Alice was given at the beginning of her visit with her doctor was:
Remember the address: John Black, 42 West Street, Brighton (he would ask her to recall this later)
How old are you?
What's today's date?
What season is it?
Where are we right now?

Later she was asked:
To draw a clock and show hands pointing to a specific time.
What day of the week is it?
When were you  born?
Who is the president of the United States?

These are all simple questions, but Alice struggles with many of the requests, especially drawing a clock (she puts all the hour numbers on one side of the circle.)

My thoughts:
I'm not sure I would have picked this book up if it hadn't been chosen as a book club read. I tend to read for enjoyment and the book brought out a lot of emotions (I would put it on the same level as Nicholas Sparks' The Notebook). But once I started reading, I couldn't put it down. It's a raw look, through Alice's eyes, into both her life that is disintegrating and how her family copes. I'm adding it to my list of favorites for this year.


Mason Canyon said...

This book has intrigued me since I first saw it, but I can't bring myself to read it. I had a feeling, as you pointed out, there would be an emotional aspect to it. Having just recently lived with and cared for someone with Alzheimer's, I think it would be too raw for me. I think it's wonderful the book is out and hopefully will help others dealing with this issue. Great review, Ann. Thanks.

Joanne said...

she is an excellent writer. I did not read the book, but did see the movie. Julianne Moore does an excellent job and believe me, it's sniffle worthy. What a tough disease on all concerned

Kim Amundsen said...

Read the book, Seen the movie. Box of tissue is recommended.

K9friend said...

I've been considering reading this one. May have to go for it.

Critter Alley

TracyK said...

I just read a review of the movie and commented there that I think it would be too painful because both my parents had dementia when they died and the memory is too close right now. But I was considering reading the book, and I may give a try someday.