“Still Alice” by Lisa Genova

Let me start by saying that there is no way you will read this book without it affecting you in some way, it’s just not possible.

On my frequent trips to Chapters (or Indigo…same difference really) I’ve eyed Still Alice, picked it up, read the back several times, even memorized what the book was about, but I never bought it because I was either studying other books or tight on money and figured I’d get to it eventually. Well, a few weeks ago I gave up on being tight on money and bought a stack of books, one of them being Still Alice. I definitely do not regret buying it! You know those moments when you see someone or something and you just have this feeling that you’re going to love them/it? That’s the feeling I had when I first saw this book (yes, I sound like a complete dork, but I embrace my dorkiness and so should you!).

The story follows Alice Howland, a professor at Harvard University specializing in language. She is a brilliant woman with a husband who also teaches at Harvard University and three children, all in their mid to late twenties. In short, Alice has it all; an amazing life, family, and brilliance. She has it all until she starts forgetting the simplest things such as people’s name or what she meant when she wrote “Eric” on her to do list for the day. After going to see her family doctor and later a neurosurgeon, Alice is diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s at the age of fifty.

Basically, her perfect life turns tragic. She starts to forget her lectures during class, she forgets where she lives, she forgets who her kids are referring to them only as the actress or the mother or the man. Her husband isn’t John anymore, he’s “the owner of the house.” The hardest part for Alice is the fact that Alzheimer’s is genetic and any one of her children has a 50% chance of already carrying the gene mutation.

Still Alice was written by first-time novelist, Lisa Genova, a woman who holds a Ph.D. in neuroscience from Harvard University. I can’t imagine anyone doing a better job with this novel. The focus that’s put on every detail of what happens to the brain of an Alzheimer’s victim is incredible and couldn’t have been done better by someone without a degree in neuroscience. At least I don’t think so.

It really is an amazing novel. I read it within a few hours and had a hard time putting it down. I know this is one of those books that I’ll definitely read again someday. I’ll admit it made me cry a lot at certain parts. It was really hard to hold it together and not feel completely heartbroken for Alice, a fictional woman who’s living with a very real disease. I just kept imagining real people going through this on a daily basis and it made me sad to think there is no cure.

Although the novel is fictional, it’s written like a memoir. It’s as if Alice is writing this journal about her experience so that others can know what it’s life to live with Alzheimer’s. A definite must read! I guarantee you will be touched.

For more information of the book and the author check out Still Alice.

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