Jan 08, 10
Recommended to deLille by:
People living with Alzheimer's
Read in October, 2009, read count: 1
The biggest problem with self-published work is the lack of an editor who tells you how to go from good to great. “Still Alice” has a wonderful premise: let’s tell the story of Alzheimer’s from the patient’s point of view, but somehow the book sounds like a professor telling you the Alzheimer’s story from a patient’s point of view, rather than having the patient tell her own story. (Using first person rather than third would have been more effective.) I felt that I was reading nothing more than an extended patient case study in a research journal.
Additionally, the character of Alice blurred with the author’s identity at times… I found myself asking, “Who’s really telling the story here, Alice or Lisa Genova?” Or, one minute you felt like you were inside Alice’s head, you really knew what she was thinking, but then the frame of reference would shift to being outside of her observing from someone else’s perspective. I never totally felt connected with Alice as a real person.
I thought that the supporting cast around Alice could have been better developed, but her children were fairly one dimensional people and her conversations with them were about one subject only given that the children had only one thing that defined each of them (i.e., having a baby, auditioning for a play). The one relationship that rang partly true was the one she had with her husband, who waffled between wanting to do his best to support his wife but also feeling that he needed to look after his own interests given that Alice might not be around in his future. His practicality tended to overrule his emotions, which is typical in many men.
Having lived with Alzheimer’s in my family, I felt that the book glossed over some really hard-hitting aspects of Alzheimer’s. While it touched on the concept of suicide, the book sidestepped the issue by making Alice unable to find her pills when she (momentarily) realized that the time had come. Therefore, the book was able to end with Alice presumably slipping away into oblivion in the arms of a warm, loving, happy family. Ha. My own personal experiences with Alzheimer’s would suggest that this is not an accurate portrayal of what it feels like to actually DIE of Alzheimer’s. I felt bad that Alice had been unable to find her pills and therefore would have to go through something that she -- when she was still lucid enough to write her thoughts down -- had adamantly expressed that she did not want to have to deal with.