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Still Alice Book Review
Still Alice book review
Author: Lisa Genova
Publisher: Simon and Schuster UK
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 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