Friday, January 25, 2013

Review: Still Alice (Lisa Genova)

Still Alice
Written By: Lisa Genova
Published By: Gallery Books
Published On: January 6, 2009
Pages: 292

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.

Like in so many families, Alzheimer's Disease seems to run in my family. Because of this, my mother was curious to read this book. She bought it, but before she had a chance to read it, I snatched it up and was finished within a few days. 

The book is like nothing I've read before. This book follows Alice as she deals with her diagnosis of early onset Alzheimer's Disease while she's still in her 50's. It's very interesting the way it's written. At first she forgets just little things. Of course, she doesn't realise she's forgotten them and she thinks nothing of it. It's not until she begins to forget her way home when she goes for a run that she becomes concerned. As the book progresses, you feel so frustrated as you see just how little she remembers. The people who have been present throughout the book who she begins to forget. How one minute she is very aware of what is going on, but by the end of the conversation she doesn't know who she's talking to.

To be honest, it's a heartbreaking read. Seeing the decline of this incredibly intelligent university professor as she slowly forgets who she is, is difficult, particularly as you see everything from her perspective. 

I don't want to say too much about this book, simply because it's one of those books that doesn't have an intricate plot full of twists and turns. It's not that kind of book. However, it's not slow moving either. It's very well written, and keeps you interested in seeing how Alice manages to get through each day, and seeing how her husband and adult children deal with her prognosis. 

I really enjoyed this book, as much as you can enjoy a book that details the process of such a horrible disease. It actually really made me appreciate what I've got and how lucky I am. I can't imagine how terribly hard it would be to simply...forget who you are. 

After I read this novel, I returned it to my mum, who read it within a few days before passing it on to my dad. Both of them really enjoyed the novel as well, although both admited it was quite difficult and spooky to read. I would really recommend this book to all, particularly anyone who has watched a loved one struggle with Alzheimer's in any of its forms. 

I give Still Alice 5 stars. I know, I don't give out many of these, but it's a very well written, thought provoking novel.

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