Still Alice

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Still Alice

“Alice Howland—Harvard professor, gifted researcher, and lecturer, wife, and mother of three grown children—sets out for a run and soon realizes she has no idea how to find her way home. She has taken the route for years, but nothing looks familiar. She is utterly lost. Medical consults reveal early-onset Alzheimer’s.

Alice slowly but inevitably loses memory and connection with reality, as told from her perspective. She gradually loses the ability to follow a conversational thread, the story line of a book, or to recall information she heard just moments before. Genova’s debut shows the disease progression through the reactions of others, as Alice does, so readers feel what she feels: a slowly building terror.”

– Taken from Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/2153405.Still_Alice?bf=1000&from_search=true)

I don’t know if this is true for everyone, but I watch my grandparents like a hawk, scared of their showing symptoms for either Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s. Those two are, in my opinion, among the most terrifying diseases out there. For one, they are degenerative, which means having to watch a loved one fade before your eyes, without being able to fight it. And Alzheimer’s also means that the person slowly loses herself by losing her memories.

Because of this, I picked up this book with a little bit of dread, after having it for quite a while in my to-read pile. And it was, as I had predicted, heartbreaking. It’s impact is made heavier by the fact that the book is told in first person. We see first hand how Alice struggles at first, knowing she has forgotten something. And, toward the end, how she seems to slowly but surely become disconnected from her loved one. In a sense, it was a blessing to have the book told in first person: while we share Alice’s panic at the beginning, we don’t really witness her family’s reactions to caring for her at the end, when she doesn’t really remember them anymore.

This was a very refreshing read, as it is very different from what I’ve been reading this year. While I’m still able to enjoy YA books, it’s nice to change age ranges sometimes and go for something targeted at the adult public and a little more grounded in reality.

Rating: 4 out of 5

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