#810: Still Alice by Lisa Genova

Still AliceAlice Howland is proud of the life she worked so hard to build. At fifty years old, she’s a cognitive psychology professor at Harvard and a world-renowned expert in linguistics with a successful husband and three grown children. When she becomes increasingly disoriented and forgetful, a tragic diagnosis changes her life–and her relationship with her family and the world–forever.

At once beautiful and terrifying, Still Alice is a moving and vivid depiction of life with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease that is as compelling as A Beautiful Mind and as unforgettable as Judith Guest’s Ordinary People.

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Review

Any illness which creates a loss of self is heart-breaking. Whether it is temporary or permanent, no one should have to suffer through it and be forced to live with it. Too many people have gone through this and are yet to go through it.

I love how Still Alice was written. There’s always the possibility the writer will over compensate or not adequately convey the confusion and isolation someone suffering from a debilitating illness will experience. I found this to be far from the case with Still Alice.

I’m one of those fortunate people who has suffered from a debilitating illness, bare with me, where I lost my sense of self and my independence. Like people with dementia, I would forget where I was, I would forget what someone said to me only a moment ago. I had to write down my details and keep them on me. I couldn’t go anywhere by myself, I would get easily lost, and I lost the ability to communicate. Unlike people with dementia however, I recovered.

Although I could not relate to Alice as the successful, career driven, person she was before Early Onset Alzeihmers (I’m all about education, but I do not put career before living life), I could relate to her via her confusion, her fears, her alienation, and her desire to connect to others even with her inability to do so. All of this did help me relate to her eventually, but I believe the way Lisa Genova wrote the story can help those who have never had a loss of self better comprehend Alice’s decline.

Still Alice is told from a third person perspective, but the writing is such it shows what is going on in Alice’s mind. There’s passages where sentences are repeated and, as the reader, you’re drawn into the spiral of Alice’s journey by the simplicity and fog achieved through the writing style.

I feel Still Alice with stay with me for quite some time and the feelings it evoked in me will linger for far longer.

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