Alice 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.
(Synopsis and image via Goodreads)
“My yesterdays are disappearing, and my tomorrows are uncertain, so what do I live for? I live for each day. I live in the moment. Some tomorrow soon, I’ll forget that I stood before you and gave this speech. But just because I’ll forget it some tomorrow doesn’t mean that I didn’t live every second of it today. I will forget today, but that doesn’t mean that today didn’t matter.” Lisa Genova, Still Alice
Three years ago, and even a few weeks ago, I was not sure I could sit and read Lisa Genova‘s Still Alice. Three years ago I stood alongside my husband and watched his brother lose his battle with a dementia similar to and second only to Alzheimer’s among the known dementias.
Yet Genova’s use of language, emotion, character-to-character relationships, life changes, and scenery made this a beautifully rich story of what an Alzheimer’s victim and his/her family actually goes through. I have not found a better eye on the world of Alzheimer’s in the global or medical literature.
“More and more, she was experiencing a growing distance from her self-awareness. Her sense of Alice—what she knew and understood, what she liked and disliked, how she felt and perceived—was also like a soap bubble, ever higher in the sky and more difficult to identify, with nothing but the thinnest lipid membrane protecting it from popping into thinner air.” ~ Lisa Genova, Still Alice
This quote speaks with clarity to what the patient experiences. We often wondered how long my brother-in-law had a realization something was changing within his brilliant mind. Like Alice, he was well-educated, a well-trained musician both instrumentally and vocally, an eloquent speaker, civically involved in his community, an educator himself, a poet and writer.
What must it feel like to know you are losing all that you worked so diligently to acquire? This passage gave me the answer. Only Lisa Genova had placed the words in my hands.
You will see from her brief biography below Lisa Genova is well versed in this disease, but she has used a novel, a story of one woman, to share with us the innermost experiences of a family whose wife and mother, and friend to many students along the way cope with as they sense the enormity of the losses faced by Alice.
Thank you so much, Lisa Genova.
I highly recommend Still Alice to those coping with the caregiving and/or beginning stages of Alzheimer’s in a family member or close friend. Such an excellent look into the world of the diagnosed victims of this hideous disease will only guide you in how to be a better companion, lover, and friend to the one with so much to lose.
Published: July 6, 2007
Genre: Literature and Fiction
Format: Paperback, 292 pages