Mike Smith's Reviews > Still Alice

Still Alice by Lisa Genova
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Jul 28, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: fiction

This novel from a self-published, first-time author has some technical flaws, but nevertheless tells a compelling story about Alice, a 50-year-old Harvard professor who is diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's disease. Author Genova is a neuroscientist by training and is well-qualified to explain the medical facts of Alzheimer's. Her writing is sometimes a little clinical, however, and dwells a little too long on the names and content of various cognitive tests that Alice takes periodically to measure her declining brain functions.

The story is told from Alice's perspective, in the third person, so the narrator sometimes understands more of what is happening than Alice does, and it's sometimes not clear if we're reading Alice's thoughts or the narrator's understanding of what Alice's thought would be if she could think them. There are a few hallucinatory sequences, but they're pretty obvious when they happen. There's one major plot point near the end of the story where the outcome is unexpected and no explanation is given. The reader must make an assumption about what happened, or didn't happen.

But aside from these quibbles, the novel gives at least some insight into the experience of Alzheimer's for both the patient and the patient's family.
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