Tuesday, April 24, 2012

"Still Alice" by Lisa Genova

292 pages

Things are going pretty darn well for Alice Howland. She's not only enjoying a distinguished career--Harvard researcher and professor of psychology--but she's also got a successful, loving husband and three grown children.  Then one day she goes for a run around her neighborhood and can't remember how to get home. Soon she finds herself forgetting words and parts of lectures that she's given dozens of times. She chalks it up to the arrival of menopause, but the feeling that something isn't right continues to gnaw at her. Finally, after a few doctors' visits and medical tests, she learns the truth: she has early-onset Alzheimer's disease. Suddenly, Alice's world is turned upside down. For as long as she can remember, her brain has been the most valuable thing she has. As her memory begins to slip further and further away, she learns more about what really matters to her and who she really is. Unfortunately, she's running out of time to make the most of this self-discovery.

This book totally broke my heart. At the beginning, I thought I wasn't going to care about this particular story. I didn't really even like Alice or any of the other main characters at first, and I only kept reading because of the Alzheimer's aspect. However, I did connect with Alice more as the story progressed, which made it seem even more tragic. It's incredibly sad that she is losing her mind just when she starts to reevaluate things and rearrange her priorities. The really sad part, though, is that Alzheimer's is a very real disease and thousands of people have gone through what Alice and her family experience in the novel. I don't think any of can imagine what it's like to slowly lose our grip on reality, but Genova makes it feel amazingly real. 

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