Judy's Reviews > Still Alice

Still Alice by Lisa Genova
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's review
May 12, 12

bookshelves: fiction, usa, 2012-reads, massachusetts, science
Recommended to Judy by: YLTO monthly read
Recommended for: everyone with even an inkling about Alzheimer's Disease
Read from May 09 to 12, 2012, read count: 1

Dear potential reader of Still Alice,

You are considering reading this book for one or more reasons. Perhaps, a friend recommended it. Maybe you are hoping to learn more about Alzheimer's Disease. It might be you just want to know why everyone is talking about it. I don't know your reason(s), but if you want to know the answers to the following questions, read it.

*Can genetic testing determine if you will get Alzheimer's?
*Does Early-onset Alzheimer's differ from Alzheimer's Disease?
*What is it like to live with Alzheimer's physically?
*What is it like to live with someone who has Alzheimer's?
*How does it feel to have Alzheimer's?

If you have even an inkling of curiosity regarding these questions, you must read Still Alice.

What is clear is that Alzheimer's patients cognitive abilities may be impaired but not their humanity. Their dignity may be unknowingly compromised at times, but not their worthiness. After reading this book, I wish I could send one big hug to every person living with this disease and their caretakers. It was an emotionally powerful book (to me) as well as informative.

Go now, before you forget. Pick up this book and read it now. Please trust me.

You can thank me later.

4.5 stars
26 likes • Likeflag

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Reading Progress

05/09/2012 page 90
31.0% 2 comments
05/11/2012 page 183
63.0% "This is a book that surprised me. I never would have picked this out on my own if it weren't for YLTOs monthly read. I'm really enjoying it."
05/12/2012 page 200
68.0% 4 comments
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Comments (showing 1-35 of 35) (35 new)

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Lisa Ahh such a fantastic (and terrifying) book. I'm so glad you enjoyed it, Judy!

Judy Thanks, Lisa. Its such a serious and sad subject, I never dreamed I would like the book so much. I'm glad I read it.

message 3: by Sue (new) - added it

Sue I've worked with families of patients with Alzheimers while working as an OT in home care. It's very difficult because much of what I have to do is help family members/caregivers learn to accept the changes and the need for changes within their home and lives. Denial can be huge.

As knowledge of the disease has increased and diagnosis is made earlier, the whole concept of individuals coping with knowledge of what is happening to them is becoming a new area of treatment and potential concern. Hopefully there will be more definitive treatment in the future.

I do plan to read this book as I like to see how the author presents what I have experienced with patients. I recommend you read Turn of Mind. This is a mystery written from the point of view of an orthopedic surgeon who has retired after noticing cognitive changes in herself. There is a murder and all the details are filtered through the doctor's deteriorating consciousness. The mystery is really secondary to the portrait of this protagonist and her interactions with others.

message 4: by Diane D. (new)

Diane D. Judy, I love how you presented this book to everyone.
Truth be told, I got this from the library and returned it unread, unopened...can you guess why? Because I was afraid. I will definitely check it out again and read it this time. Thanks (in advance!)

Mikki Judy, I love the review. The book was most effective for me because it was told from the point of view of the one experiencing the memory loss and so we were able to see the frustrations and hurdles one faces that are not normally able to be expressed.

The format (month by month) was also effective because it showed the cognitive breakdown in days and weeks which made it all the more terrifying.

I found this book to be very accessible in helping to shed a bit of light on a little understood health problem.

message 6: by Magdelanye (last edited May 17, 2012 11:58PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Magdelanye Cheers to Judy for this encouraging review.You have reminded me how important it is to acknowledge the incredible courage of those holding their own in the face of these insidious conditions...and cheers to Diane for her courage in admitting how she couldn't quite face reading it.

I too have been putting this one off because I don't quite feel ready for it. My father was diagnosed with Alzheimmer's, mainly because numerous aunts and uncles sufferred from it. Actually, my dad had Parkinsons, which made it extremely difficult to form words, but he was there, and he knew who he was. He had been a doctor most of his life,and that was the last persona to go,he couldn't forget it. What he would forget that he was the patient.He was so caring and such a good sport about it all. Because most people just assumed he was not there. But he was, trapped in a body that barely functioned.

message 7: by Sue (new) - added it

Sue Magdelanye wrote: "Cheers to Judy for this encouraging review.You have reminded me how important it is to acknowledge the incredible courage of those holding their own in the face of these insidious conditions...and ..."

Parkinsons is another brutal disease. Sorry for what your father, and you and your family, have gone through.

message 8: by Diane D. (last edited May 15, 2012 12:01PM) (new)

Diane D. Magdelanye wrote: "Cheers to Judy for this encouraging review.You have reminded me how important it is to acknowledge the incredible courage of those holding their own in the face of these insidious conditions...and ..."

Magdelanye, I'm sorry to read of your dad's battle with Parkinsons. I have a close friend whose husband was diagnosed with it many years ago at a young age, and I saw them both last summer and he is doing remarkably better with the medications he is now on. My partner's dad we suspect had the onsets of dimentia and/or alzheimers, so another reason why I had put off reading Still Alice. Too close to home?

message 9: by Magdelanye (last edited May 15, 2012 11:36PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Magdelanye You know, I am not sure they really know that much about the brain and it's deterioration.Having spent eight years visiting the dementia ward (my dads brother did have the more classic Alz. and died a few years before my dad)I was continuously amazed at the variation in the patients. Some seemed utterly depressed,others so sunk into themselves that they are hardly there. Others clamor for attention, or are prone to high drama, or, like my remarkable father,put on a serene face.
With Parkinsons, a lot can be done to delay the onset, so it's good to get the correct meds(and diagnosis) as soon as possible and yet you don't want to rush it either. I also think nutrition and especially exposure to toxins has something to do with the speed of progression;and of course attitude and general fitness.

message 10: by Judy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Judy Wow! Love this discussion. Magdelanye ((hugs)). That had to be hard to cope with. Your dad sounds like a brave man!

Diane, ((hugs))I can understand your fears. My Grandmother had Alzheimer's when she died. I was young and never saw her during the time she had it (she lived some distance away), but always wondered how she coped with it. This is one reason I found this book fascinating was because I felt it filled in some of that gap. Granted, everyone handles Alzheimer's differently (as Mags pointed out) but it still gave me a sense of what Grandma went through in her last years. For some reason, it helped me to know that even though it wouldn't have been positive.

Magdelanye I feel the need to mention my aunt Etta, who we all rather hated because she was so strict and nosy(we thought) and she was the one who looked after us when my mom went to visit her parents in another city.
When she got Alzheimmers, I was about 10 and I remember noticing specifically and saying something to my parents to the effect of Aunt Etta has gotten much nicer.She was way more patient,she apparantly listened to us more, and seemed to be much happier, even loving and I wondered when my mother said she was very sick. I found her delightful!

message 12: by Judy (last edited May 17, 2012 04:28AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Judy That's so much like Alice, Magdelanye. I didn't care for her bossy, bulldozing ways in the early stages of alzheimer's but she became more gentle and caring as she progressed. Is that because her left brain became less active and the right brain more dominant? Does anyone know?

I'm suggesting this, because I'm listening to My Stroke of Insight: A Brain Scientist's Personal Journey and she has a whole fascinating chapter on how the right brain is so much more gentle than the left.

message 13: by Sue (new) - added it

Sue From my understanding and experience of persons with Alzheimer's, what you've observed, the more gentle and nicer behavior, would probably be chance. It's also not the same situation as having a stroke where damage is usually limited to one side of the brain.

With Alzheimer's, the areas of involvement in the brain can be anywhere, in the frontal lobe which can cause profound personality changes, in motor areas which can impact the ability to walk or move with coordination, etc. Changes in the brain during the course of the disease definitely can affect behavior. It's wonderful when behavior is affected in these positive ways. I have seen cases where it's the opposite, where individuals become increasingly aggressive or argumentative.

Magdelanye, I think you and your grandmother and family were blessed, in a way, within this horrible disease.

Tajma My maternal grandfather didn't die from his Alzheimer's but of a stroke before the disease would have led to his being committed to a home. Like Alice, he was a type A personality, used to being in complete control of his family and surroundings. Imagine the gradual deterioration of the brain that has led to your greatest successes in life. All of us who enjoy reading as we do, imagine losing the knowledge of the hundreds and thousands of books that we have read in our lives. Even the thought of it makes me shudder.

message 15: by Judy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Judy Thanks Sue for the explanation. That is very helpful. So sorry, Tajma, about your Grandfather.

You make a good point about losing all the wonder and knowledge gleaned from books.

message 16: by Sue (new) - added it

Sue My mother was reading til the end of her life but toward the end, as she was more confused, sometimes the books would be up side down and she would still appear to be reading them. She seemed to still get some pleasure out of the act even though there was obviously no new meaning. So I guess the wonder of reading can still stay with us in some ways.

Tajma Sue, that's a nice thought, that the act of reading itself has meaning.

Stacy I work in elder law and I think this one might help me understand many of our clients better. Thanks for the review!

message 19: by Judy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Judy Welcome, Stacy. :-) I think you would find it very helpful.

Magdelanye It seems my reply to Sue yesterday never got posted.
So in 10 minutes it will be my mothers birthday, the 9th one she has not been here to celebrate.

When she got her diagnosis,she stopped reading altogether, but she did like me to read to her.I remember all the bedtime stories she read to me and I am grateful.

message 21: by Judy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Judy Too bad, Mags, another GR hiccup? They seem to happen a lot.

(hugs) for today.

message 22: by Sue (new) - added it

Sue Magdelanye wrote: "It seems my reply to Sue yesterday never got posted.
So in 10 minutes it will be my mothers birthday, the 9th one she has not been here to celebrate.

When she got her diagnosis,she stopped reading..."

My parents always are connected with reading in my mind. My father died relatively young (the same age I am now). I recall ordering books for my mother when she was in her 90s. She has only been gone for a year and a half now Magdelanye, but I know i'll think of her every birthday too (of course the fact that it's Halloween makes it even easier!) We had bedtime story books which had a story for every night of the year. Wish I still had that one.

message 23: by Magdelanye (last edited May 22, 2012 09:09AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Magdelanye thanks Judy :-) I needed that hug.

Sue, that's rough about losing your dad so young,but you're mom sounds fantastic.

And I'm just listening to the radio now, doing a quickie here before going off to work...and the host has just wished a happy birthday to Mozart!

message 24: by Sue (new) - added it

Sue Love that ! Happy B'day Wolfgang Amadeus!

Magdelanye this is a bit strange. As I was preparing myself to leave, Julie the host of Tempo came back on after the Motzart piece and mentioned that James Ennis, the masterful violinist, was born on the same day in January, not today at all! So Wolfgang and James share a birthday and she just thought to celebrate it on moms birthday today.

message 26: by Judy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Judy Belated Happy Birthday to Wolfgang then. LOL!

message 27: by Sue (new) - added it

Sue :o)

Magdelanye its hard to believe its 3 years since these conversations and its only just now that this book has reached the top of my list is I'm reading it now and trying to decide if I should go to the movie which happens to be playing in the theater here. I don't have a good idea of what Alice looks like and I am almost finished the book, so it might be worth the effort

message 29: by Judy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Judy Will Be interested in what you think. I like the movie, but like all movies it had to leave a lot out , but I still thought to get a very good job of it.

Magdelanye well! no contest...I loved the movie! I think this is because it confronted me with the reality of the others whereas in the book, I could not visualize her family at all. in fact, in the book the other characters were always shadowy whereas in the movie we get to see the impact of Alzheimer's on the family and their interactions. There was a particular warmth that was absent in the book....at least for me. and I felt the movie was very faithful to the text in all the ways that matter.

message 31: by Sue (new) - added it

Sue I just re-read the discussion. It really was good. I haven't seen the film but just the excerpts are very powerful.

Magdelanye If you liked the book the movie will actually enhance your appreciation. highly recommended

message 33: by Judy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Judy Glad you liked both, Mags. Sue, I think you would find the movie touching. Juliana Moore certainly deserved her Oscar.

Magdelanye wondering what it was about the book that didn't click for me until I saw the movie...the book felt a bit wooden whereas the movie felt vividly alive. or maybe I just preferred seeing Alice in context and not trapped inside her head.

message 35: by Judy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Judy Interesting, Mags. I lean towards preferring the book, but thoroughly enjoyed the movie.

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