Thursday, March 15, 2012

[Book Review] STILL ALICE by Lisa Genova


Andrea reviews STILL ALICE by Lisa Genova (Pocket Books, 2009).

At 50 years old, Harvard psychology professor Alice Howland is having bouts of forgetfulness. She can’t remember where she left her Blackberry, but knows where her husband Bob left his wallet. While running her usual trek in Harvard Common, she becomes confused about where she is. Blaming it on menopause, she is convinced the change in hormones is causing her memory lapses.

After consulting her family physician, Alice is encouraged to visit a doctor specializing in Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, and other cognitive disorders. Alice takes an extensive battery of tests and, unfortunately, the results are not good. In fact, Alice and her family are shocked that she has been diagnosed with the early stages of Alzheimer’s. Her marriage to fellow professor, Bob, is strong, her career at Harvard is thriving, and her three adult children, Tom, Anna, and Lydia are all successful in their own right. They all are wondering why this had to happen.

Alice handles this ungrateful disease with courage. Even though Bob is in denial about how bad it can get and wants Alice to try every medication available to suppress the condition, Alice herself manages to keep her strength and dignity.

This book was tough emotionally because I had no idea how quickly an Alzheimer’s patient can spiral down. There are also many moods to a patient I was unaware of. The most frequent emotions they feel are frustration and isolation.

Author Lisa Genova tells the story of Alice so beautifully and painfully accurately because of her work experience with Alzheimer’s and dementia patients.

Alice is an amazing character who handles her debilitating illness with strength and courage. You won’t soon forget her.

Andrea King, Poplar-White Station Library

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