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Still Alice

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Still Alice is a compelling debut novel about a 50-year-old woman's sudden descent into early onset Alzheimer's disease, written by first-time author Lisa Genova, who holds a Ph. D in neuroscience from Harvard University.

Alice Howland, happily married with three grown children and a house on the Cape, is a celebrated Harvard professor at the height of her career when she notices a forgetfulness creeping into her life. As confusion starts to cloud her thinking and her memory begins to fail her, she receives a devastating diagnosis: early onset Alzheimer's disease. Fiercely independent, Alice struggles to maintain her lifestyle and live in the moment, even as her sense of self is being stripped away. In turns heartbreaking, inspiring and terrifying, Still Alice captures in remarkable detail what's it's like to literally lose your mind...

292 pages, Paperback

First published July 6, 2007

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About the author

Lisa Genova

22 books9,768 followers
Lisa Genova graduated valedictorian, summa cum laude from Bates College with a degree in Biopsychology and has a Ph.D. in Neuroscience from Harvard University.

Acclaimed as the Oliver Sacks of fiction and the Michael Crichton of brain science, Lisa has captured a special place in contemporary fiction, writing stories that are equally inspired by neuroscience and the human spirit. She is the New York Times bestselling author of STILL ALICE, LEFT NEGLECTED, LOVE ANTHONY, INSIDE THE O'BRIENS, and EVERY NOTE PLAYED.

Her first nonfiction book, REMEMBER: The Science of Memory & the Art of Forgetting, will be released March 23, 2021.

STILL ALICE was adapted into a film starring Julianne Moore, Alec Baldwin, Kristen Stewart, Kate Bosworth and Hunter Parrish. Julianne Moore won the 2015 Best Actress Oscar for her role as Alice Howland.

EVERY NOTE PLAYED is being adapted into a film starring Angelina Jolie and Christoph Waltz, directed by Michael Sucsy.

The film adaption for INSIDE THE O'BRIENS is in production.

In 2015, Lisa was named one of the U.S. Top 50 Influencers in Aging. She has appeared on Dr. Oz, the TODAY show, CNN, PBS Newshour, NPR, and several documentary films.

Her TED Talk, "What You Can Do To Prevent Alzheimer's" has been viewed over five million times.

She received The Pell Center Prize for Story in the Public Square, for "distinguished storytelling that has enriched the public dialogue," The Sargent and Eunice Shriver Profiles in Dignity Award, The Global Genes RARE Champions of Hope Award, and The American College of Neuropsychopharmacology Media Award for "informing the public about Treatment and ongoing research in medical illness."

In 2016, she received an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Bates College, The Alzheimer's Association's Rita Hayworth Award, and The Huntington’s Disease Society of America Community Awareness Award.




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5 stars
158,414 (47%)
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129,219 (38%)
3 stars
36,750 (11%)
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 29,684 reviews
Profile Image for Annalisa.
525 reviews1,350 followers
June 22, 2011
After you read this, you will never look at Alzheimer's the same again. Nor will you ever forget it. Oh the irony.

I'd always correlated Alzheimer's disease with old age and heard the best way to combat it was to exercise your brain. I do my fair share of reading, can solve a Sudoku puzzle faster than 98% of the population, and I shun mindless chick flicks for your more intelligent thrillers, but I'll never be as brilliant as Alice, a 50-year-old Harvard professor diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's. If she had been a little shallow to begin with or 20 years older. If my own aunt weren't suffering from an advanced stage of the disease right now. If I weren't feeling a little hazy myself when I'm up half the night with an infant. Maybe then I could have put another barrier between me and Alzheimer's, but I can't. Alice's story scared me. A lot. After all, what are we without the identity of our thoughts? So much for those Sudoku puzzles.

I lived Alice's story right along with her, crying when she cried and smiling at her accomplishments. Telling your story from such an unreliable witness is a tough job and Genova handles it beautifully. As the book progresses, the scenes feel more and more misplaced. As a reader I was thrust into the situation along with Alice, unsure of the setting or the time or what had happened five minutes before. Genova also offers some poignant scenes where we the reader know what Alice has forgotten and our heart breaks for her. When she forgets her daughter, her husband, the layout of her house, how to lick an ice cream cone, we mourn the Alice lost right along with her and her family. I can't imagine losing everything I learned, all the way back to basic needs like how to walk, feed, or even use the bathroom. I felt Alice's frustration at forgetting words and people and most of all being shut out because she was stigmatized with this disease as though she were already dead.

Because the narration is told through Alice, there are a few plot points that get lost, but I think we gain more than we lose from her perspective. And those lost points add to all she loses. Sometimes the descriptions of Boston get a little lengthy and the medical descriptions cold and drawn-out, giving the novel a little bit of a medical journal instead of novel feel, but I was still captivated by Alice and her plight, and I loved that Genova had the background to give us a real look into Alzheimer's, to make it come alive in the pages.

Even though the story is told through Alice's unreliable eyes, I felt for each of the characters in her family as well. When I wanted to be angry at John for avoiding the disease, I couldn't. I felt for him. Having a spouse go through Alzheimer's must be one of the hardest things. Not only do you watch your spouse suffer and take on the role of full-time caretaker, a major life-changing physical and financial burden, but you lose your partner and confidante. And to experience early-onset when you should be experiencing some of the best of life is devastating. I could see why he didn't want to deal with it.

I wouldn't want to see a parent go through this either. I don't know. It's hard to think about. I hope I never have to.

I can't stop thinking about Alzheimer's and hoping they come up with a cure soon. Genova has done a fabulous job bringing attention to this debilitating disease and I love that she self-published because it was too important to wait. Kudos, Genova.
Profile Image for Emily May.
1,965 reviews294k followers
April 17, 2016
Is my identity something that transcends neurons, proteins, and defective molecules of DNA? Is my soul and spirit immune to the ravages of Alzheimer's? I believe it is.

I read this book for three reasons. 1) I have never read a book about Alzheimer's disease, 2) For personal reasons, I have an interest in Alzheimer's, and 3) It has an incredibly high average rating on goodreads. That being said, I have to confess that I didn't really go into this expecting to like it. I picked it up from the library so I wouldn't have to spend money on it and so I could return it quickly when I realised it was nothing more than the regular Nicholas Sparks-style melodramatic chick lit. I started it with a bored sigh, thinking I would soon be putting it aside to distract myself with the internet or any of the million TV shows I'm currently trying to keep up with. But something unexpected happened.

This is not chick lit, whatever you want to interpret that to mean. It isn't melodramatic or emotionally manipulative. It isn't the Alzheimer's equivalent of the standard - forgive me - "cancer book". Instead, this is a deeply moving psychological portrait of a woman's deteriorating mind and how this gradually affects her relationships with the people around her. It's about an intelligent woman suddenly finding that she can no longer rely on her mind, she tries every day to hold onto her memories, her sense of understanding, and we are taken on a terrifying journey into what it must be like to know you are slowly losing pieces of yourself day by day.

I have no desire to trivialize cancer or any other disease, I have lost several people I've loved to cancer and know how horrible it is. But Alzheimer's is a whole different type of monster. There's one part of the book where Alice says she wishes she could swap her disease for cancer and then instantly feels bad about it, but I understand where the feelings come from. With cancer, you can fight. There's chemotherapy, radiotherapy and yes, they don't always work, but you can go down fighting. With Alzheimer's, there's still no way to fight it, no chance of overcoming the disease. The diagnosis carries a tragic hopelessness with it, because all you can do is sit around and wait for your mind to deteriorate.

Sometimes you can really tell when an author knows their subject and, in my opinion, it makes all the difference. I recall Split by Swati Avasthi in particular and the way the author's background working with abuse victims helped her have a deeper understanding of the characters she was dealing with and the story she was telling. Genova holds a Harvard PHD in Neuroscience and there is a surety and confidence in her scientific explanations of the disease that makes this fact evident in her writing. She knows the small details of what she's talking about and so the bigger picture is naturally more convincing.

On a personal note, there is a history of Alzheimer's in my family. I don't understand it enough to know whether it's genetic or a coincidence that many of the women on my mother's side have suffered from the disease. I do know my mum is afraid of it, though she doesn't talk about it often. But every time she forgets where she put something she was holding just minutes ago, every time she reaches for a word - a word she uses every day - and it slips away, just out of her grasp, every single time she wonders if it's a sign of something more serious than getting older and having a busy schedule. It's this small scale stuff that makes the novel so terrifying. We could all be Alice. We all forget small things every day, that's just a fact and it happens to everyone, but what if one day those forgotten memories don't come back straight away? And the next time, what if they go a bit longer? The progression from the small things to the more serious stages of the disease is truly scary.

This book is frightening on both a biologial and psychological level. When I think of Alzheimer's, I think of forgotten memories, of faces you can't put a name to, of everyday places that seem unfamiliar. But the author's haunting descriptions of the biological truth are entirely different and frightening on a whole new level. I don't think about what is really happening in the brain, neurons being destroyed bit by bit, dying some more every day, eroding pieces of who you are. Memories, for me, are those things that disappear for a while but come back to you later. But Alzheimer's doesn't make you forget memories, it goes in and completely destroys them. As if they were never there.

And that is the important question for Alice: how much can she lose and still be herself? If our entire personalities are built from memories, sensory experiences, from the things we've said and done, who are we when we no longer remember any of that? How can you make today matter when tomorrow you won't even remember it? It's a sad book but it doesn't fail to leave you with a glimpse of light in the darkness too. But I'll leave you to find out what that is for yourself.

The final comment I'd like to make is not so much a criticism of the book but a comment on what I'd personally like to see on this subject in the future. As I said at the beginning, I've never read a book about Alzheimer's before and I may be missing a very good one that already exists, but I kept thinking while reading this that I'd like to read a story about someone who wasn't as successful as Alice. Alice gains comfort from the fact that she has had a fantastic career, a husband who loves her, and three intelligent children. She's obviously right to cling to all the good things in her life, but I wonder how the story would be different if told about a man or woman without Alice's financial prosperity. There has to be so many different stories and experiences to be told about this disease and I suddenly find myself wanting to read more of them.

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Profile Image for Shannon.
243 reviews29 followers
March 1, 2009
I give this book 5 stars not because its an amazing piece of literature but because of its impact on me. I can't stop thinking about it and when I was reading it I couldn't put it down. It is the story of Alice, a brilliant professor of cognitive psychology at Harvard and a world-renowned expert in linguistics who discovers she has early onset Alzheimer's disease. This book is beautiful and terrifying - ringing true in every word. To quote a reviewer, "with a master storyteller's easy eloquence, Genova shines a searing spotlight on this Alice's surreal wonderland. You owe it to yourself and your loved ones to read this book. It will inform you. it will scare you. It will change you." It has changed me.
Profile Image for PetraX living the city life.
2,430 reviews34.1k followers
June 8, 2015
Update I just watched the film. It was very moving, an awful depiction of a terrible disease. I forget words. I worry that maybe... I don't even want to think of it. Good as the film was, it wasn't as good as the book. It could stand alone though as a separate work that more just shared names and a title. June 2015

Still Alice reads like a memoir of Alzheimer's disease written by a family member but is in fact the first novel by a neuroscientist who, apart from being a great deal younger, lives the successful life of a top academic, as does Alice.

The book is unputdownable. I read through the night; dawn came and went and still I couldn't put it down but I don't really know why. The writing was ok, a bit heavy-handed at times, the denoument was predetermined and inevitable but still the book was as gripping as any top-ten thriller. Perhaps it was the progress through a disease that strikes at random and about which we know almost nothing from the sufferer's point of view?

Lisa Genova self-published the book and it has reached the rank of 150 in 'books' on Amazon. When I see a self-published book with 10 or 15 glowing reviews, mostly written by people who've never written a review before, I think they are probably the author's friends and dismiss the review in favour of one by an independent publication (if there is one). But when a self-published book attracts 190 reviews and a 5 star rating, I know that the book is definitely worth considering, not just for my own reading pleasure but also to order for my bookshop.

This book is more than worthy of consideration, its ourselves, our families as we might be, and its a good read too.
Profile Image for Ahmad Sharabiani.
9,566 reviews56.7k followers
January 15, 2022
Still Alice, Lisa Genova

Still Alice is a 2007 debut novel by Lisa Genova, set in Boston. The novel is about a woman who suffers early-onset Alzheimer's disease.

Alice Howland, a 50-year-old woman, is a cognitive psychology professor at Harvard and is a world-renowned linguistics expert. She is married to an equally successful husband, and they have three grown children. The disease takes hold swiftly, and it changes Alice’s relationship with her family and the world.

عنوانهای چاپ شده در ایران: «همیشه آلیس»؛ «من هنوز آلیس هستم»؛ «هنوز آلیس»؛ «هنوز آلیس هستم»؛ نویسنده لیزا جنووا؛ تاریخ نخستین خوانش روز بیست و نهم ماه ژانویه سال2011میلادی

عنوان: همیشه آلیس؛ نویسنده: لیزا جنووا؛ مترجم: آرش طهماسبی؛ تهران، افسون خیال؛ سال1389؛ در394ص؛ سال9786009200627؛ موضوع داستانهای نویسندگان ایالات متحده ایالات متحده آمریکا - سده21م

عنوان: من هنوز آلیس هستم؛ نویسنده: لیزا جنووا؛ مترجم حمید یزدانپناه؛ تهران، نشر علم؛ سال1390؛ در322ص؛ شابک9789642242924؛

عنوان: هنوز آلیس؛ نویسنده: لیزا جنووا؛ مترجم: شهین احمدی؛ تهران، نشر چشمه؛ سال1390؛ در454ص؛ شابک9786002291158؛

عنوان: هنوز آلیس هستم؛ نویسنده: لیزا جنووا؛ مترجم: آمنه مجذوب صفا؛ تهران، موسسه نگارش الکترونیک کتاب، مانا کتاب؛ سال1394؛ در270ص، شابک9786008009283؛ دسترسی از وب

آلیس، استاد زبان شناسی دانشگاه است؛ روزگاری خوب، و زندگی صادقانه و نیکویی دارند؛ ایشان به مرور زمان، درمییابند، که مسائل ساده را، به آسانی فراموش میکنند، و مبحثی را که، باید در کلاس، درس دهند، یادشان میرود؛ نخست، موضوع را، چندان جدی نمی‌گیرند، اما با افزون شدن دشواری، پیش پزشک میروند، و پس از انجام آزمایشات، درمییابند، که به نوعی بیماری «آلزایمر» بسیار ویژه، مبتلا هستند؛ «آلیس» هرچند از شنیدن خبر، شوکه میشود، ولی تلاش میکند، تا تسلیم بیماری نشود؛ ...؛ فیلمی نیز، با مشخصات زیر و با بازآفرینی، از این رمان ساخته شده است

عنوان فیلم: هنوز آلیس؛ کارگردان: گلن مور؛ واش وستمورلند؛ تهیه‌ کننده: جیمز براون؛ پاملا کوفلر؛ لکس لوتزوس؛ فیلمنامه نویس: ریچارد گلتزر؛ واش وستمورلند؛ بر پایه داستان: هنوز آلیس، از: لیزا جنوا؛ بازیگران: الک بالدوین؛ هانتر پریش؛ جولیان مور؛ کیت باسورث؛ کریس��ن استوارت؛ و ...؛

تاریخ بهنگام رسانی 14/11/1399هجری خورشیدی؛ 24/10/1400هجری خورشیدی؛ ا. شربیانی
Profile Image for deLille.
120 reviews
June 29, 2021
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. {SPOILER ALERT: PLEASE STOP READING IF YOU HAVEN'T READ THE BOOK.} 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.
Profile Image for Idarah.
464 reviews48 followers
October 23, 2014
No one understands the high stakes associated with making a book recommendation like a serious reader, especially when it's to a good friend, co-worker, or family member. Books that we love say a lot about our personalities, things that we're passionate about, and even shed light on our past experiences (good and bad). That's a lot to share with someone! Along with that pressure is the fear of introducing the wrong book to the wrong reader, or getting the timing wrong. What if they absolutely hate it?! Where does that leave us?

The flip side is equally scary. When someone you esteem recommends a book that they hold dear, and upon reading it, you find that you hated it, that can make things a little awkward. "How'd you like that book I loaned you?" might just be the subject of your recurring nightmare. I've sometimes found myself wondering, "Why on earth would this person think this book would speak to me? Obviously we're not as close as I thought we were."

I exaggerate, but no one understands these common reading kerfuffles like readers do! It's why I struggle to keep silent when I see someone bypassing a book I thought was brilliant (and on sale, no less) at a bookstore. I want to run after them and say, "Put that corny romance novel back and take this. It changed my life!" It's also why I try to avoid talking to strangers in bookstores who want to unload all their favorites on me without knowing a thing about me. On several occasions, I've dutifully waited until said person cleared out of the store before returning Jimmy Buffet's latest book to its shelf, along with the copy of Zane's current bestseller. I'm not knocking them, I just know what I like...and it's not that!

This summer when I was shopping for books at a local thrift store, a woman shoved Still Alice into my overflowing shopping cart. I was a bit annoyed. She didn't know me! All she kept saying was that if I hadn't read it, I needed to. Apparently, it had changed her life. There in that aisle, a complete stranger started talking to me about caring for her mother who had Alzheimer's, and how this book turned the tables by giving the reader the perspective of the victim of the disease. Before I knew it, I was sharing my story about my grandmother, and her current battle with ALS, an equally progressive degenerative disease with no cure.

Talk about books bringing people together! Though I didn't get her name, I left the store with this book based solely on that woman's recommendation...and I absolutely loved it! I wish I could tell her how right she was. This book hit a raw nerve, and really took me out of the caregiver role in order to focus on the real heroes battling neurological disorders every day. What must it be like to wish for a "logical" disease that one could fight with medication or radiation? One particular question that Alice, the protagonist, asks really struck me to the core:

"Is the part of my brain that's responsible for my unique 'me-ness' vulnerable to this disease? Or is my identity something that transcends neurons, proteins, and defective molecules of DNA? Is my soul and spirit immune to the ravages of Alzheimer's?"

I'm going to be as equally pushy as my nameless thrift store friend. Read this book! Don't make me chase after you, because I wear my running shoes to the bookstore nowadays. That is all.

Profile Image for Brandice.
860 reviews
December 25, 2019
Alice Howland is a well-respected Harvard linguistics professor who, at age 50, finds herself starting to lose her mind - forgetting words, not recalling why she walked into a room, unsure of the recipe for a dessert she’s made for several years. Through a series of doctor appointments and tests, Alice learns that she has early onset Alzheimer’s disease.

In Still Alice, she attempts to cope with this new life along with her family, which includes her husband, her two grown daughters, son, and son-in-law. It is tough for all of them to accept and challenging to cope with as the disease progresses over time.

Still Alice was terrifying - I can’t imagine learning this was happening to me or to a loved one. It’s hard to process at any age, but seems especially shocking for a brilliant woman who’s just 50 years old. The story felt realistic, from Alice’s behavior to her family’s differing opinions about the best course of action for her, yet, I also enjoyed how they ultimately came together despite their disagreements.
Profile Image for Andy Marr.
Author 2 books716 followers
September 3, 2022
Fascinating and heartbreaking and without a single wasted word. Incredible.
Profile Image for Swrp.
667 reviews
December 10, 2020
"What is having Alzheimer`s disease like from the point of view of the person with Alzheimer's?"

Incredible! - a must read.
Profile Image for Suz.
1,103 reviews566 followers
September 30, 2022
I chose to read this book whilst taking a break from a very heavy read. What a great choice.

It seems I'm behind the eight ball again, having only just read my first novel by this outstandingly talented author.

What an inspiring, emotional and ultimately rewarding read, on a topic that is real and wretched and terribly sad.

Alice is a brilliant and gifted Harvard Professor who hits her 50's with early onset Alzheimer's. I was taken in by this lovely lady, a beautiful character that Genova created and told her story with eloquence and grace.

She has created a piece of work that speaks of such a hard topic, with factual information in a way that found to be hauntingly real. This author has shown respect for this topic by researching thoroughly; she's a very clever woman.

If a reader was to have personal experience with this topic, I would understand their having doubts with this one, but I think it actually may be a wise choice?

I loved Alice, I adore a book where I can say that about the central character. I could still see her, thanks to the skilful writing of this fabulous author. I'm a happy reader right now, please read this one, it's so good!
Profile Image for Ruth.
Author 11 books469 followers
August 17, 2012
I wanted to like this book, I really did. I picked it because my mother suffered from dementia and I expected to relate to it.But I almost gave up on it in the first few chapters. Good writing is of paramount importance to me, and the writing here, while not godawful, has first book written all over it. Way too many "information drops," where the author tells us all about something or somebody in a chunk of info instead of just letting it unfold in naturally ocurring parts of the story. I'm glad I stuck with it though, because the book improved considerably as it went on.

I know, of course, that Alzheimer's varies from patient to patient, but I have to say that much of this did not seem to reflect my experience with my mother. My mother was every bit as intelligent and involved in things as Alice. She was Phi Beta Kappa in Zoology,later became a professional landscape designer, read voraciously. Yet she never had the insight that Alice did about what was wrong with her.

As I said, each case is different, but I felt that the author gave Alice too much insight and self-awareness, especially when the disease was pretty far advanced. Granted, Alice couldn't express her articulate thoughts in words to her family, but I had a hard time believing someone as far gone as she was would have such insightful, articulate thoughts at all.

Still, I found the last 1/3 of the book to be interesting and affecting. I especially liked the way the Alice's answers to her self quiz deteriorated without her being aware of it. That was spot on.
Profile Image for PattyMacDotComma.
1,435 reviews816 followers
June 6, 2017
Read this on my birthday while I still have enough marbles to appreciate how well the author illustrated Alice’s gradual disintegration with Alzheimer’s. Alice tried to leave herself reminders and notes, and I suspect I would do the same, but as you lose your memory, you may not trust your former self or even recognise that person, so perhaps it’s pointless.

Alice Howland is only 50, a Harvard professor of cognitive psychology and in a perfect position, one would think, to chronicle how she will deal with her diagnosis of early-onset Alzheimer’s.

Like many readers, I’ve experienced dealing with dementia in others and wonder if it will strike me, too. This book certainly covers her symptoms, her diagnosis, her test-taking and her reactions, but more than that, it gives us an idea of how a particular family deals with this.

She is one of those hubs around which other family members circle – a scientist husband and three grown children, two of whom are professionals (with degrees, which she values) and one who is an actor. She has opted out of university, much to Alice’s dismay, and studies acting and drama, supported not-so-secretly by Dad. He may be a scientist, but he appreciates The Arts (and her independence).

She gets lost one day, very early in the story, just walking as usual when a woman confronts her with a pamphlet, which unnerves her so she crosses the street. And that was enough to do it. She’s lost her bearings. She walks another block. She can read the signs and the names of the places. She is terrified.

“It all lacked a context. People, cars, buses, and all kinds of unbearable noise rushed and wove around and past her.” But she closes her eyes, opens them, and voila! “Just as suddenly as it had left her, the landscape snapped snugly back into place.”

Later she thinks her brain’s battery is running low and wishes she could give it a zap with jumper cables. What a good idea – if only.

She visits an Alzheimer’s unit by herself to see how the residents are faring. She is appalled, not only at their debilitated state but also at how costly the care is. She wishes she had cancer instead! At least there are treatments and a chance of a positive outcome.

She continues her work at Harvard longer than she should and her husband tries hard to be supportive, but he is a busy and successful scientist, absorbed in his research, and that’s who they have always been. Without her teaching position, who is she? She—who has always valued education and intellect and degrees—who is she?

Meanwhile, her tests show she has inherited a gene for Alzheimer’s, and chances are good her children have it and any grandchildren that eventuate may inherit it too. What to do? Whom to tell? Daughter Anne is trying to get pregnant!

She’s so smart that she manages well for as long as she can, even starting a support group of fellow patients. There are many groups for carers but she found none for those with the condition.

After again urging Lydia, her actor daughter to please go to college, Alice begins to reminisce about her college years:

“. . . the punchy all-nighters before exams, the classes, the parties, the friendships, meeting John—her memories of that time in her life were vivid, perfectly intact, and easily accessed. They were almost a little cocky the way they came to her, so full and ready, like they had no knowledge of the war going on just a few centimeters to their left.”

The book is divided into sections by date, and each section has a place where she asks herself the same five questions she knew the answers to when she was diagnosed (address of office, daughter’s birthday, etc.), and we see her answers gradually grow more vague.

Why this isn’t more depressing than it is, I’m not sure. Genova has done a terrific job of telling a very real story, and my edition contains a conversation with her where she discusses watching her grandmother disappear with Alzheimer’s (not early-onset). Genova was then studying for her PhD in neuroscience at Harvard, so she knows her subject. She understand what it means to say something is going on a couple of centimetres to the left of the memories in Alice's brain.

There is a good general description of the brain and its workings and the medications being used, but I'm aware that this was written in 2007 and things keep changing.

We keep hoping, but it’s not cured yet.

I was also reminded of the 1985 film with Joanne Woodward, "Do You Remember Love", about an English professor going through a similar diagnosis . https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Do_You_...

I haven't seen Julianne Moore as Alice yet, but she won an Academy Award for it, and I have no doubt I'll enjoy it when it rolls around again.

Wonderful book. Don’t be frightened to read it!
Profile Image for Gabriela Silva.
21 reviews
August 9, 2022
“... just because [butterflies'] lives were short didn't mean they were tragic... See, they have a beautiful life.” ― Lisa Genova, Still Alice

Strong message. Made me cry and think about the life
I would definitely recommend. Just GO read this book.
Profile Image for Noeleen.
188 reviews135 followers
August 5, 2016
It's difficult to write that I really enjoyed Still Alice considering the subject matter, which is not an easy one to read about. Lisa Genova has provided a really insightful and intuitive account into the world of the early onset of Alzheimer's Disease. This is a very well written book and rather than it being told in an overly dramatic way, which could have been the manner some authors may have approached the story, Genova related it in a most respectful, considerate and compassionate manner.

In all honesty, I was quite hesitant about reading this book, although I had read many great and positive reviews about it from friends. Personally this disease is one of my worst nightmares and I think because I am a few years away from the age when Alice was diagnosed with the disease, it kind of hit home with me even more and was probably the reason I put off reading this book for so long. I found myself asking, what if? what would you do? how would you cope? how would your family cope? A lot of these questions were addressed in this book by both Alice and her family and friend’s experience of dealing with the disease. Really, at the end of the day, there is nothing you can do, it is a disease which is out of your control, in the end, unfortunately you just have to accept and hope that someday, with research, a cure will be found.

It was upsetting to read about the slow digression of Alice's state of mind both in connection with her work and her family and friends. Every time Alice checked back to her five answers on her list, to see how far the disease was affecting her, I found myself willing her to remember, it was like a silent shout out loud to her, hoping and wishing for her to recover. It was heartbreaking reading, how Alice, who was such a learned, esteemed and highly regarded academic at Harvard, had to give it all up and sacrifice herself, her family and career to this horrible disease. It was distressing to read how Alice slowly began to not recognise her husband or children as the disease got progressively worse.

Lydia's character, Alice's youngest daughter, in particular, stood out for me in the book. It was emotional and uplifting to see how Alice and Lydia, who initially had a rocky mother-daughter relationship, in the end, found a lot of support, encouragement, comfort and friendship in one another. Initially I thought that Genova should have allowed John, Alice's husband, a voice in the book, allowed him to give his side of the story, tell us how the disease affected him and share his thoughts with us as he made this journey with Alice. However, upon reflection, I think that Genova did actually give John a voice, not directly to the reader as such, but in a more subtle way. We never really knew how John was feeling, never really knew his thoughts. We saw his frustrations and in some ways he appeared to carry on as normal as possible. I think now, that Genova actually got this right in her portrayal of John. John's world was turned on its head by Alice's disease. I would imagine that his thoughts and feelings were a mixture of disbelief and perhaps he didn't fully believe that this disease could just come out of the blue, reach into his world and shatter it...I got the impression that he was trying to avoid reality for as long as he possibly could and continue as normal, because if he let his guard slip, for one moment, then Alice’s situation and therefore his situation, would become a reality, a reality which he would have to face and accept. In my opinion, outwardly he tried to ignore this for as long as he could but on the inside I think he was just shocked and devastated. I felt that John's twisting of his wedding ring many times in the book was quite significant and symbolic. For me, Alice's diagnosis was, in essence, soul-destroying for John. It meant that his marriage, his relationship with his life-long partner, his family life, his world as he previously knew it, was slowly slipping away from him, slowly becoming something he didn't recognise and there was nothing he could do about it. That is something that is difficult to come to terms with for any human being.

I only had an issue with one aspect of the book and that was all of the medical jargon, mostly near the beginning of the book. I realise it was absolutely necessary in the telling of this story and telling the story accurately, but quite honestly, most of it went over my head, due I suppose, to my own ignorance. I became a little bit bored with it, especially when John and the doctor were discussing the different options, trials and medications available to Alice.

In summary, this is a book that you will find hard to put down until you reach the end. You will go on Alice’s journey with her and it is not a pleasant one. It was very educational and I learned a lot. It was an extremely thought-provoking read. I admire anyone going through this illness, their family, friends, those who care for them and those who continue to research for this cause. Hopefully, some day soon, studies in research will find a cure for this most awful disease.
Profile Image for Jenny.
269 reviews97 followers
August 9, 2018
This book is one that I still think about to this day. It’s so real and scary at the same time. I cried reading so many parts of this book and it left a profound impact on me and my thoughts as I get older of how external fears are not as great as the fear of losing our minds. I recommend this book.
Profile Image for Carol.
1,370 reviews2,138 followers
June 12, 2015
What a great heartfelt book. Takes you into the world of dementia and the frustrating lives of those with Alzheimer's, and at the same time, keeps you interested in the characters and plot unable to put the book down.

Update: June 12, 2015 Finally watched the movie......thought book was so much better!

Profile Image for Heba.
1,039 reviews1,995 followers
August 15, 2022
" أليس " أستاذة علم النفس الإدراكي بجامعة هارفارد ، التي تتمتع بذهن حاضر وذكاء مُتقد ، وقد اجرت العديد من الأبحاث في المجال اللغوي ، وشاركت بمؤتمرات في أنحاء العالم...تعاني من تداعيات بالذاكرة القريبة...هل ذلك النسيان طبيعي ..يرافق سن اليأس ؟...
بعد ان تخضع للعديد من الفحوصات والأختبارات الطبية يتبين أن أعراضها تنطبق على مرض الألزهايمر...
في سرد ناعم ، يرسم الشخصية المُصابة بذلك المرض بصورة حية بمشاعرها المرتبكة والتداعي الإدراكي أمام خلايا الدماغ المُدمرة ، مطاردة الكلمات التي تتلكأ في طريقها اليها ومن ثم اختفاءها في هوة سحيقة ، عدم القدرة على تشكيل الكلمات..لقد باتت اللغة تخذلها...
رأيت الالتفاف حول نفسها في دائرة مغلقة وهى تبحث عن الأشياء وتتساءل أين وضعتها...أم فقدتها ؟...
ان تقف مذهولة فى منتصف الطريق لا تدري اين وجهتها التي اعتادتها لزمن طويل ، سقط قلبي أمام كل سقطة لعدم إدراكها الأبعاد المكانية ، بينما كانت قلقة خائفة من اليوم الذي سيأتي دون أن تتعرف على وجوه من تحب ، لقد تلاقت نظراتنا ، وأخبرتها عيناي بأن تدع القلق فإذا كان عقلها قد خذلها فإن قلبها لن يُخطيء أبداً....
لم تغفل الكاتبة معاناة مرافق المريض ، أن يتأقلم مع هذا الواقع المرير ، كيف يمكن حماية المريض من المداهمة الشرسة العنيفة للمرض على الذكريات والحالة الإدراكية ، أن يتقبل تكرار الأسئلة مراراً ، نسيان اللحظة الماضية ، ترقب حدوث تلك اللحظة التي لن يتعرف عليه من يحب ...
الدموع التي تطفر لعل صورة الكابوس تتلاشى ، القلب الذي يعتصر ألماً ، الاحساس بالتكبيل أمام النهاية المنتظرة والتي لابد منها...
الابتسامات التائهة في طريقها لمن يحب ، كلمات الدعم التي تتساقط من الذاكرة ...ولن يصمد أمام كل ذلك إلا الحب...
عن التشخيص المبكر للمرض ، وإن كانت الأدوية تبطىء دون توقف اجتياح المرض ، مجموعات الدعم التي تخفف من ثقل الواقع ، ومحاولة ملأ الفراغات التي لا تلبث أن تتشكل دون توقف.....
وأخيراً بالرغم من الطفرة الجينية والبروتينات والحمض النووي ، بالرغم من أن " اليس" لم تعد ما تقوله ولا ما تفعله ولا يمكنها استعادة ما تفقده لكن روحها منيعة أمام كل ذلك ولا تزال أليس......❤
Profile Image for Debbie.
60 reviews5 followers
February 21, 2009
Fifty year old Alice Howland, a world-renowned expert in linguistics and a cognitive psychology professor at Harvard is diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's disease. Still Alice is the story of the unraveling of Alice's life as her disease progresses.

I started out not enjoying this book. The author's main character wasn't very likeable – she seemed too focused on how smart she was and how important and prestigious her job was, but I was quickly won over. Lisa Genova wrote from Alice's perspective so the reader joins in the fear, disorientation, and confusion that come with the progression of Alzheimer's. Alice's relationships with her family and their varying responses to Alice's decline are extremely believable, and the most touching parts of the book are the evolution of Alice's relationships with her husband and children as her disease progresses.

Still Alice is a fantastic book that provides an incredible window into the progression of Alzheimer's disease and is both terrifying and heart-rending. Warning - it will make you question all your middle-age moments of forgetfulness
Profile Image for Jason.
137 reviews2,304 followers
December 30, 2013
I avoided this book for a long time, though I’m not exactly sure why. I think the premise (or at least what I understood to be the premise) reminded me of a book I read last year that was so horribly executed I felt very little inclination to get into something similar again. Who wants another lousy memory loss story, anyway? Well, put me in the “wrong again, asshole!” category because where the first book failed, converting an otherwise interesting idea into cheesy mindless schlock, this one delivered just fine.

It is the story of Alice Howland, a professor of psychology at Harvard University who, at the height of her research career, slowly begins exhibiting signs of early-onset dementia. Attributing her symptoms to stress or exhaustion at first, she eventually learns that she carries a gene mutation responsible for Alzheimer’s and is already well into the early stages of the disease. Knowing the gene mutation is autosomal dominant (meaning she only needs one copy of the gene to express the disease), each of her three children stands a 50% chance of inheriting the disease as well. The knowledge of this, on top of her own losses of stature, confidence, and ultimately her independence, serves only to compound the agony.

It is not all perfect, of course. The book is fairly breezy, refusing to delve much past the expected feelings of frustration, loneliness, and confusion that accompanies Alzheimer’s, and it often times felt rather clinical and pamphlet-y. But I am a giant nerd—I like clinical and pamphlet-y when the subject matter is in my realm of interests. Regardless, the book serves a purpose. It strikes the reader as remaining fairly true to the experiences of someone beginning to lose the required synapses necessary to retain memory and cognitive function—my second grader would call this “realistic fiction”—and as of its publication, it is in fact the only novel ever to have been endorsed by the Alzheimer’s Association.

And what I’m saying here is that I guess I am endorsing it a little bit, too.
Profile Image for Kelli.
851 reviews395 followers
April 27, 2018
Intensely readable, relatable, and devastating. I read this when my children were still so little and I distinctly remember rushing off to the other room every chance I got to read a page here and a page there. Thus began my love for Lisa Genova. 5 stars
Profile Image for Lynne King.
490 reviews657 followers
November 9, 2014
There are an estimated five hundred thousand people in the United States with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease (as at 2007 when this book was first published). Early-onset is defined as Alzheimer’s under the age of sixty-five. Symptoms can develop in the thirties and forties.

Having worked in the pharmaceutical industry, I’ve always been interested in disease, genetics, clinical trials and finally being able to see, after so many years of research and many failures included, a medicinal product that can help those individuals who have cancer, MS, etc. I keep on hoping that soon a "general" medicinal product will become available that will cure all of these diseases but then I suppose that will put the pharma industry out of business. Am I cynical here? I guess the answer is yes.

So after reading Eve’s review I had to read this book and what an absolutely incredible book it turned out to be. How Lisa Genova could have found such sensitivity in writing this novel I will never know. I guess her background of having a PhD in neuroscience from Harvard University gave her the necessary impetus to write this “million copy bestseller”. She admitted that she had, of course, done a lot of research and well, her end result was perfect. I cannot fault it in any respect.

But where can one possibly begin with this incredible book?

Imagine that you are a fifty year old, apparently healthy and have had a successful twenty-five year career in psycholinguistics and are the “eminent William James” Professor of Psychology at Harvard University; a happily married woman called Alice (Ali to her husband John, a scientist) and three children who on the whole she was very proud of – Anna, Tom and Lydia. Admittedly the latter was a worry to Alice as she wanted to become an actress and had been living in Los Angeles for three years and had missed out on a college education, much to her sibling Anna’s delight. Now that’s not very nice is it? Alice had automatically assumed that Lydia would follow the academic career as her two siblings had but obviously it was not to be.

And then after making a few serious errors such as forgetting a conference in Chicago; on another occasion Alice completely “lost” the word “lexicon” in her main speech; losing her way home whilst out running, to quote just a few examples. Also Alice is beginning to become moody which was not in her nature and she is worried about her memory, is often disoriented and she fears that she may be losing her mind. Surely that would disturb Alice who was so precise in her lifestyle, especially her work? Well naturally it did and she went and had tests, many tests, starting with her primary-care physician, who found nothing untoward, and so she asked to see a neurologist. By this time she was too disturbed and frightened to inform her husband. And the result? Early-onset Alzheimer’s disease which is different to the older form as its cause usually has a strong genetic linkage and it manifests much earlier.

She was positive for the PSI mutation.

So the downward spiral in Alice’s health begins and, of course, as her disease is genetically-linked, her three children come into the equation. Her daughter Anna is trying to become pregnant and both she and Tom have tests to see if they also have the mutation. Lydia declines. If it is positive for Anna, should she have children? It is resolved I’m pleased to say.

Well there’s just pure drama after this. It’s wonderful in fact.

What did remain in my mind was that whenever the husband John is worried, he twirls his wedding ring several times. What does this mean? Is he thinking of until death do us part? Is he worried that his wife Alice’s early-onset Alzheimer’s at the age of fifty makes their future look rather grim? Does he feel sorry for Alice? Does he want an “out”? Well we’ll never know what went on in his mind.

All I can say before I go into overkill with this review is that I’m cutting it short now. I’m lost for words but I must stress that you must read this wonderful book! You’ll actually feel a better person for doing that. Believe me!
Profile Image for Jilly.
1,838 reviews6,166 followers
June 12, 2018
Oh my gosh. Why did I do this to myself? Did I just think, "Hey, I haven't cried and felt miserable in a while. I should fix that." Or what?

Yeah, normal Jilly doesn't cry. If I'm really upset I'm more likely to spiral into a dark depression and retreat from everyone and everything. You know, like a well-adjusted person. But tears? No, not a thing. Yet, this book brought a few.

Maybe the old tear ducts need a good cleaning once in a while. It's probably healthy.

Next time, this is how I'll clean them.

Anyway, read this one if you want to cry. Or, if you want to get really scared, because truthfully, all of the early signs of Alzheimer's are there for most of us.
Forgetting words and using "thingy" in place? Check
Forgetting where something is? Check
Forgetting what I was looking for or why I came in that room? Check
Forgetting to go running? Double and Triple Check. Okay, maybe not forgetting to run exactly, but I don't run. Is that a sign? Do I have it?

Hypochondriac kitty shouldn't read this book.

To be honest, I didn't really like Alice all that much before she got diagnosed, but her descent into Early Onset Alzheimer's was brutal. Nobody should have to go through that. The story did a great job showing us the horror of losing your mind. And, scaring the ever-loving crap out of me.

In other words... Unless you really need to clean those tear ducts, or you know someone going through this and want understanding, you should probably stay away. Read something happy and funny instead.

Or, read this story. This looks promising.
Profile Image for Elsa DeGelder.
85 reviews7 followers
June 30, 2016
What makes a novel truly good is that it can stand on the quality of the writing alone.
To coast along (saleswise or otherwise) on the coattails of subject matter, is, I think, cheating.
That Still Alice is about Alzheimer's Disease is, I would guess, a good part of the reason that so many people have responded so well to it.
Fair enough: Every reader brings their personal history to every book they read. And if they have witnessed lives of dear ones being derailed by Alzheimer's, they will read this book with a sense of familiarity, of kinship even, knowing too intimately well the wounds it has bludgeoned them with.
Fair enough.
Still none of that is enough to excuse the faults that keep this book from being a well-written novel--it simply isn't one. The characters are thin and weakly-defined, and there are too many jarring moments where it merely reads like a helpfully informative brochure about Alzheimer's.
Actually, reading a brochure, or an article about it in a medical journal would've felt more honest.
I suppose I'm informed now.
But somehow I also feel cheated...
Profile Image for Barbara.
22 reviews
February 23, 2009
I couldn't put this book down. And, I agree with other reviews of this book that it was heartbreaking. But, I saw something else in this story. Pain and heartache and change comes into everyone's life in some form and not everything that comes from that is bad. Genova does a good job of showing the devastation in Alzheimers but also the beauty in redefined relationships.
Profile Image for Danielle.
809 reviews404 followers
February 2, 2021
2011 F.A.B. Bookclub pick # I.❤️. F.A.B.

A very sad view of what it’s like being someone who has Alzheimer’s. Alice is a brilliant professor, so she’s quick to notice her own symptoms. The part where her family is discussing her, right in front of her, but not consulting her was heartbreaking. It’s a sad read!
Profile Image for Deanna .
665 reviews12.4k followers
April 4, 2015
4.5 stars
A wonderfully written book about a heartbreaking subject. I finished this book in under a day and was left emotionally drained but touched in so many ways. I meant to write my review the moment I finished the book as I prefer to do when fresh in my mind. Even though it's been a few weeks I feel this book will stay with me for a long time to come. Strongly recommend for everyone but people who are affected by this disease will also benefit. It made me realize there was so much I did not know about this disease. How it affected not just Alice but everyone in her life. I look forward to reading more of Lisa Genova's books.

Profile Image for Sahar Zakaria.
345 reviews571 followers
October 13, 2020
رواية رائعة برغم أنها مؤلمة ومؤثرة للغاية ..
أستاذة جامعية تصاب بمرض ألزهايمر وهي على مشارف الخمسين فتتحول من شخصية مرموقة ومميزة علميا وإجتماعيا إلى إنسانة مشوشة كثيرة النسيان والأخطاء ، و��تغير مجرى حياتها بشكل مأساوي فتفقد وظيفتها الجامعية وتضطرب علاقتها بأفراد أسرتها وأصدقائها والعالم من حولها إلى الأبد.
Profile Image for Sharon.
993 reviews192 followers
January 10, 2014
Alice Howland is a fifty years old and is a psychology professor at Harvard University. Her career keeps her busy with teaching, speaking, engagements and plenty of research. She is married to John and they have three adult children who also lead busy lives.

During Alice's busy schedules she starts to notice that she is having moments of forgetfulness. She puts this down to stress, lack of sleep or perhaps the start of menopause. As the weeks pass by things start to get worse so Alice makes an appointment with her doctor. After numerous questions and tests Alice is diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer's disease. Of course at first she can't believe it as she is only fifty years old. Once she tells her family they are just as shocked and think this must be a wrong diagnoses. But sadly it's not and they will all to face the fact that Alice is changing and becoming a different person which will be permanent.

Over the next few years Alice participates in a trial for new medication, but her condition rapidly deteriorates and she becomes more confused, absent minded and lost. This is not only hard for Alice, but also for her loved ones as they try to cope from one day to the next.

This is a very moving story which touched me very deeply. I have dealt with this debilitating disease quite a lot over the last few years and truly it is hard on everyone involved. This novel paints a portrait of how heartbreaking the disease of early onset Alzheimer's can be. It also gives us an understanding of what families go through and how it effects them.

This is a very moving and emotional story and one in which will touch the hearts of many readers. I HIGHLY recommend this book and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
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