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Still Alice Book Review

Updated on November 30, 2017

Still Alice book review

Book Information

Author: Lisa Genova

Published: 2010

Publisher: Simon and Schuster UK

Pages: 340

Alice Howland is a Professor of Cognitive Psychology at Harvard University. She's been a Professor for 25 years and loves her job. Her husband, John, is also a Professor in the same university. They have 3 grown up children, Tom, Anna and Lydia. When Alice start having memory relapses, she simply puts it down to going through the menopause. But, after a few months she goes to visit her doctor. After a few tests, she she diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer's Disease. Over the course of 2 years, we follow Alice's story of how she copes with this and how it affects not only her, but the people around her too. Although Alice continues working at Harvard, it is inevitable that she begins to struggle. When she is called into her colleagues office to discuss what is wrong, they assume she has depression or even a drug habit. So when she tells him about her condition, he is shocked.

Over time Alice inevitably deteriorates. Even though she is on drugs not to cure the Alzheimer's, but to help slow it down, we see how Alice and her family comes to terms with her condition. This is ultimately a story of love, honesty and loss. Alice is still Alice, but not the Alice that everyone knew, loved and admired. It is particularly difficult in the beginning. When she first tells her husband, John, of her diagnosis, he refuses to believe it. He tells her people always forget and misplace things. But, when he does come to terms with it, he stands by her and we see how he goes with her to the Doctor and does all he can to help.

Alice is a highly intellectual and driven woman. So when she learns she has early onset Alzheimer's, it makes it all the more painful. She loves to run every day, and the Doctor encourages her to continue doing this each day. But as we see in the book, as her memory slowly begins to fade, she also starts losing the ability to do other things like not being able to run without falling over and losing her balance. Of course, there are also times when she becomes unaware of her surroundings and can't find her way home, although home is close by. When the Doctor tells John to go running with her, he accepts. But we see how after a while it becomes more and more difficult for him to go running with her with his work commitments and Alice's decline.

And the reader also see how Alice copes with this disease and how she learns to make notes and relying on her Blackberry phone to remind her of simple everyday things. She has a few questions which she asks herself daily, like how many children she has, where she lives, the year it is etc. She does this daily without fail.

This is the author of 'Still Alice', Lisa Genova
This is the author of 'Still Alice', Lisa Genova | Source

My thoughts

This is Lisa Genova's debut novel. Although I saw the film a while ago, I thought reading the book would give me more of an insight to Alice and her battle with Alzheimer's. I think this book has really touched on a subject which people don't really openly talk about. Through reading this book, I got to see how Alice copes with this disease and how her family, friends and work colleagues cope. This is very much a personal story from Alice's point of view, seen through her eyes. We get to see what it's like to suffer with Alzheimer's from the other side of the fence, so to speak. We also see how she worries if she's passed the gene onto her children, as there is a 50/50 chance that she passes this gene onto her children.

This is a heartbreaking story that really does not have a happy ending for all involved. But on the other hand, it gives the reader an insight into how one can cope when they are diagnosed with such an awful disease. It's definitely an eye opener and a must-read book.

I am a wife, mother, and friend, and soon to be grandmother. I still feel, understand, and am worthy of the love and joy in those relationships. I am still an active participant in society. My brain no longer works well, but I use my ears for unconditional listening, my shoulders for crying on, and my arms for hugging others with dementia.

— Alice Howland

Still Alice book

© 2017 Louise Powles


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    • Coffeequeeen profile image

      Louise Powles 4 weeks ago from Norfolk, England

      Yes Poppy, she played Alice in the movie.

    • poppyr profile image

      Poppy 4 weeks ago from Tokyo, Japan

      Cool, I hadn't heard of this book before. Is that Julianne Moore on the cover?

    • Rhyme Vine Poetry profile image

      Tamara Yancosky Moore 7 weeks ago from Uninhabited Regions

      Great review; and I appreciated your own personal thoughts on it! Excellent!

    • Jay C OBrien profile image

      Jay C OBrien 7 weeks ago from Houston, TX USA

      I think the lesson here is to state "End of Life" decisions in a Durable Medical Power of Attorney. The point at which a person looses their independence or reasoning ability cannot accurately be determined.

    • Claire-louise profile image

      Claire Raymond 7 weeks ago from UK

      Sounds heavy going, but definitely worth a read. It must be so difficult for everyone involved.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 7 weeks ago from The Caribbean

      Great story. I tried to get my relatives to watch the film when my mother was alive and suffering with the disease. Thanks for the review which helps to keep this important topic afloat.

    • Coffeequeeen profile image

      Louise Powles 7 weeks ago from Norfolk, England

      Oh goodness, I really don't know what I'd do. I think the idea of a poison pill is down to individual choice. Especially if the person, like Alice in the book, is a highly independent person.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 7 weeks ago from USA

      I read the book before the movie came out and found it heartbreaking and real, providing insight into what it’s like to be a highly competent professional who relies upon ones intellect and memory who is slipping into Alzheimer’s. I totally agree with your review. Never saw the movie because fimakers never do justice to well written books.

    • Carb Diva profile image

      Linda Lum 7 weeks ago from Washington State, USA

      Alzheimer's is a gradual unraveling of a person. It's like watching the growth of an infant to a toddler to a child in reverse. Day by day abilities are chipped away. Remember your joy when your baby took his or her first steps? Fed himself? Ate from a spoon?

      I have a dear friend who died from Parkinson's disease--a brilliant mind trapped in a body that ceased to function. And then there was my mom, and my next door neighbor whose bodies wanted to function but the mind could no longer transmit the appropriate messages. I honestly don't know which is worse. Thank you for this thoughtful book review. I've not seen the movie and not sure I can read the book, at least not yet.

    • k@ri profile image

      Kari Poulsen 7 weeks ago from Ohio

      Your description of the book nearly had me in tears. I do think it must be a wonderful book to read. I have worked with Alzheimer's people, being a nurse, but I would like to know the other side. Thanks for the review. :)

    • Jay C OBrien profile image

      Jay C OBrien 7 weeks ago from Houston, TX USA

      Yes, this is heartbreaking. I wonder what I would do in a similar situation. I have heard the state of California now has a poison pill for people who wish to end their lives. What is your opinion on the use of this poison pill?