Title: Still Alice
Author: Lisa Genova
Publisher: Gallery Books, 2009
Summary/Review: Alice Howland is a psychology professor at Harvard University with 3 grown children. First, she can’t find her Blackberry, can’t quite remember names and blames it on stress. But then one day while she’s jogging, she becomes hopelessly lost and can’t find her way home. After a visit to a doctor, she’s diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s and her life is changed forever. But as the disease worsens and steals pieces of what Alice always thought of as herself, she discovers that she is made up of more than just her memories.
Lisa Genova, the author of “Still Alice” holds a Ph.D. in neuroscience from Harvard University. She wrote the novel, which is her first, for a couple of reasons. First, while she was in graduate school, her 80-year-old grandmother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s so she had a personal experience with the disease. Second, as a scientist, she found that what was happening to her grandmother was fascinating and wanted to know more about it. Her grandmother was in a pretty advanced stage of the disease, so she couldn’t really talk to her about it. She knew that she needed to talk to someone for whom the disease was new, so she decided to focus on people who had early-onset Alzheimer’s – someone in their late forties or early fifties.
This dichotomy comes across very clearly while reading Still Alice. While it is so hard to read about what Alice and her family goes through, it’s fascinating to read about the biology of the disease, how it develops, and some of the things that are being done to help treat people with the disease. The book review that appeared in Booklist magazine states it best: “Clearly explaining the testing, treatment options, and symptoms of the disease within the context of an absorbing family drama, Genova has written an ideal primer for anyone touched by Alzheimer’s.”
Who will like this?: While this book may be a difficult read for some, if you are looking for a deeper understanding of Alzheimer’s, or life in middle age in general, this book may be for you. Someone who is interested in the medical facts of Alzheimer’s or related diseases.
If you like this, try this: Lisa Genova has written additional books, including “Loving Anthony” (autistic son dies, two women become friends, husband of one having an affair) and “Left Neglected” (after a car accident, a young woman wakes up with a brain injury called Left Neglect – the brain completely ignores the left side of her body).
Recommended by: Mary, Branch Reference Librarian
If this looks like a book you’re interested in, visit the Fairfield Public Library catalog to check its availability and/or place a hold