Martha☀'s Reviews > Still Alice

Still Alice by Lisa Genova
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Mar 04, 13

bookshelves: s-t-book-club, c-c-book-club
Read from February 26 to March 03, 2013

Told through the perspective of an early-onset Alzheimer's patient, the novel describes the fairly quick decline of Alice. In a matter of 18 months, Alice goes from being a tenured Harvard professor to being a lost and confused, mentally-ill patient who requires constant supervision and care. Since the narrator is Alice, the reader is taken step by step through the mental anguish and fear that she experiences, both in losing her capacity to think clearly and in the impact she is having on her family.

Through her medical research, Lisa Genova found a fair amount of information and support for the caregivers of Alzheimer's patients but none which described the symptoms from the perspective of the patient. This novel allows us to see Alice struggle to follow conversations and follow simple written instructions. It delves into the anger at her inability to do daily tasks and thoughts of suicide. She listens to her family and doctors discuss her actions and prognosis as if she is not in the room. Decisions which concern her seem to be taking place without her input, although she is told over and over that she was consulted but just doesn't remember.

As with all mental illnesses, there is a stigma with having Alzheimer's and Alice is keenly aware that she is being avoided. She learns to tell people about her illness and begins a support group for others like her.

I have also read Left Neglected and I found SA to follow the same formulaic style. Both novels show a woman at the top of her game, wanting for nothing yet not appreciating her family, her career or her health. After a few chapters describing her frenzied, self-important life, a diagnosis is made and everything in her life changes. Somehow with both books, despite the desperate situations, Genova leaves us on a positive note.
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