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Alice & Oliver

3.22  ·  Rating details ·  1,815 ratings  ·  377 reviews
A heart-breaking, page-turning, life-affirming novel about love, marriage, family, and fighting for your life, for readers of Jonathan Franzen and Meg Wolitzer.

Alice Culvert is a force: passionate, independent, smart, and gorgeous, she—to her delight—attracts attention wherever she goes, even amid the buzz of mid-90s New York. In knee-high boots, with her newborn daughter,
Hardcover, 416 pages
Published April 5th 2016 by Random House
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Average rating 3.22  · 
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 ·  1,815 ratings  ·  377 reviews

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Elyse  Walters
Jun 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
My mind is swimming with thoughts...
but I'll simply jump right in and see where this review takes me.

First off - I agree with other readers -that there were parts that didn't inspire. Its way too tempting to 'skim-read' a book like this.
BUT.....there were parts that equally kept me glued to this story - completely engaged.

There were parts that I KNEW were sooooo real that I felt SICK TO MY STOMACH AND DOWN RIGHT ANGRY.
Why??? Welcome to the United States Healthcare System!!!! I'm sooo outraged
Maggie Gust
Feb 15, 2016 rated it it was ok
I got about 25% of the way through this book by sheer force of will. I worked in healthcare for years, so that might explain why I was bored to tears by the detail of the medical diagnosis and treatment. I felt like I was back at work. Also did not like these characters at all. It found the book poorly written and confusing. The author does nothing to help the reader understand the shift to another time period.

I just decided that I would rather spend this time on another book. Not my cup of tea
Jan 23, 2016 rated it did not like it
Received an ARC from Netgalley.

I tried . . . But the author's writes in a way that you can't tell if he's talking about the present day or some time in the past. Too confusing, too slow, and he's trying to hard. Decided to give up and move onto something else.
Jun 23, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: read-in-2016
This is probably a 2.5 star book for me. I would like to be able to round the rating up to 3 stars because of the subject matter - the journey and struggle of a young mother (and her husband) of a 6 month old baby diagnosed with life threatening leukemia - but I just can't. I found this book deadly dull. It was a slog to finish. I dreaded picking it up but was determined to finish it.

I felt almost nothing for the characters. So strange. How could this story not tug at my emotions? Oddly flat, w
Jan 14, 2016 rated it it was ok
This review is provided to NetGalley on an uncorrected proof.

This book was difficult to read not only because of the subject matter but also the author's writing style. I have never seen such disjointed writing. Half the time I wasn't sure who was speaking and what the timeframe was. Also, the author used the longest sentences; his excessive use of semi-colons; I lost track of the thought; then realized I didn't care. The random insertion of case studies did nothing to help the confusion.
Jul 07, 2016 rated it did not like it
I tried to relate to Alice & Oliver, but they were among the most obnoxious people I have ever had the displeasure of reading about. I know I was meant to empathize with Alice after her leukemia diagnosis, but if I am honest, I was rooting for them both to die just to spare me any more of their awfulness.
Ayelet Waldman
Aug 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This one was purely for pleasure. A galley came across my desk. The book is devastatingly beautiful.
Diane S ☔
Oct 26, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I knew almost from the beginning that this might hit a little too close to home. Not that I have leukemia, like Alice is diagnosed with but I have been hospitalized more times than I like, and the ambulance ride, the insurance difficulties, the hospital setting all served as reminders. But, what Alice goes through is so many times worse. I can't even imagine some of the things she had to deal with, her and her husband. Horrifying.

This is probably the most complete fiction book on cancer and the
Kate Mayberry
Apr 11, 2016 rated it it was ok
I got halfway through this book and decided not to finish it. I really wanted to feel sorry for the main characters because they were going through such a difficult time. However, I kept getting annoyed with the husband, and then I felt guilty feeling annoyed, as this book is based on his experience of losing his wife to leukemia. So I gave up. The book received glowing reviews, including one from Maureen Corrigan.
Jan 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
3 1/2 stars. Alice & Oliver was hard to read. The topic is sad -- at the beginning, brand new mother Alice is diagnosed with leukaemia and the book focuses on the course of her illness in the year following her diagnosis. The narrative is choppy -- jumping around in time between different points of view. There are some hard edges to Alice and her husband Oliver that at times made them hard to relate to. And the book is long -- and it deals at great length with the details of Alice's condition an ...more
Mar 26, 2016 rated it liked it
This review was originally posted on cutecouplegif

I think I need to stop requesting stories set in New York City. I tend to find that the characters spend so much time acting cool, that it turns me off of them. Alice & Oliver did have that issue and without the medical crisis plotline I would have not enjoyed the read at all based on the characters. The titular Alice and Oliver are a hip, young NYC couple. They live in a loft in the Meatpacking district with their small daughter named Do
Angela M
Jan 15, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm not exactly sure why I decided to read this book because I knew it would be a tough one and it was . The stark reality of vicious disease is in your face from the first page - acute myeloid leukemia. Even though it was difficult to read , I decided not to give up because reading about it and feeling uncomfortable because the author had made this so real is nothing compared to enduring it. The disease is brutal and the treatment is brutal . The medical system with the mountains of paper work ...more
May 26, 2016 rated it it was ok
Bleuch. I tried with this book. I truly tried. I tried relating to the cancer problems. It wasn't enough. Then I listened to the author on Fresh Air and found out his wife really did die, and this is an account of what they went through as sort of a journal for their daughter. That wasn't enough either. See, when assholes gets cancer, it doesn't really make them sympathetic. It just makes them sick assholes. And oh my GOD, these people were such condescending, pretentious jerks. Alice was a narc ...more
Jan 15, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, 2016-releases, ng
Thank you to Netgalley for the opportunity to read this ARC

This is a beautiful, raw, often brutal book. The writing has a stripped-bare, clinical, dispassionate tone that packs unexpected emotional power.

My up-close experience with cancer treatment is limited to my father years ago and a close friend even more years ago. I've read a lot, fiction and non-fiction, about the end of life, the dying process, and grief, from the both the perspective of family/friends and of the individual. Those boo
Alicia Gard
Apr 05, 2016 rated it liked it
So, I have mixed feelings about this book. As the reader, we know from the beginning that although this novel is technically a work of fiction, it is based on the author's tragic experience when his wife was diagnosed with leukemia. I heard the author discussing the experience and this book on NPR and decided to check it out of the library and try it. took me a while to get through, and I skipped and skimmed sections in an effort to finish. I just found it.....overwritten, with unli ...more
Elizabeth Havey
Jul 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A beautiful, brilliant novel. Charles Bock lost his wife to leukemia after she went through two bone marrow transplants. They had a 3 year old daughter when she died. During his mourning period, Bock came upon his wife's journals and notes which she kept during her two years in the hospital. Bock was so moved by her words, that he created a couple, Alice & Oliver, with a similar situation, setting the story back in 1993. This complicates the medical aspects even more--and Bock must have done a g ...more
Reading Alice & Oliver is not an easy thing. Having lived through similar circumstances in my family of the terminally ill and dying, I again wanted to make everything all right. Humans aren’t always equipped to do that.

Charles Bock tells a poignant, heartbreaking, at times witty, and compelling story based, as noted in the synopsis, on his own family. This fact alone provides a foundation for the incredible love shown between Alice and Oliver and for the veracity of Alice’s love and commitment
Jun 17, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2-stars
Alice & Oliver by Charles Bock

400 pages and it took me seemingly FOREVER. It literally took me 4 hours to read 150 pages. It went on and on and on and I was so bored. Having said that, I couldn't drop this because it's for a challenge I'm doing. This story creates a very clear picture of cancer and cancer treatment. In the acknowledgments I figured out that the author had lost his own wife to cancer. His wife wanted to publish a memoir sharing her story and Bock took entries from her journal and tried to make the story a
Mar 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
Based on true life events of the author's life, this novel almost reads as a memoir. Young Alice Culvert is a vivacious, talented, artsy, new young mother living in NY when she is diagnosed with cancer. Heartbreaking at times but the love that Alice and Oliver have for each other and their baby shines through. if you like reading books on medical journeys (When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi) then you'll be sure to love this book.

Note: I received a free review copy of this book and was not
Claudia Silk
This book is beautifully written and raw and tender and all those things. But it is a really tough read and you need to know that going into it. Most of the book takes place in hospital rooms with graphic descriptions of chemo, bone marrow transplants etc. The characters are real and flawed and at times completely unlikeable. Just like real life!
Ilyssa Wesche
Sep 26, 2015 rated it liked it
A whole novel about cancer - with a lot of medical details - manages not to be boring or maudlin. Although I'm pretty sure I wouldn't like Alice in real life, I found the story pretty compelling. I could not put it down. ...more
Jennifer Spiegel
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Paula Matuskey
Dec 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Having lost a very close friend to cancer just after she turned 54, I could really identify with this book. I've read some of the reviews and some have commented about what I would call discontinuity in the text. But let me assure anyone who hasn't experienced losing someone close to cancer, that's how your life becomes in these circumstances. Consider yourself blessed if you haven't endured or witnessed this kind of experience.
This book was one of the most memorable ones I've ever read, and I
Mar 21, 2018 rated it it was ok
This was a real struggle and a great disappointment. I could not get into the writing style because it was quite difficult to follow the storyline. The author seemed to jump from character to character without much Segway. Though I would feel for Alice and maybe for Oliver but both became quite unlikeable. Skimmed to complete and was glad to put it aside!
I got this book because I heard the author on Fresh Air, and learned that the book is based on his experiences with his own wife's cancer, when they were both living in the Meatpacking District of Manhattan. Since I've been thinking of writing something that involves young New Yorkers and a character with serious illness, I figured I had to give it a read.

Am a little more than halfway through now, and finding it rough going. It's not especially fast paced, and the language is sometimes appealing
So, I'm pretty sure I can trace the reading of this to both my current nostalgia for the New York I remember as I stupid 23 year old and my all-impending sense of doom. Alice & Oliver took me forever to finish. As I got closer to the "end," I would just look at it sitting on my desk. But I did finish it and the ending like most of the book felt so completely right.

But holy fuck! It was a fraught.
Apr 30, 2016 rated it did not like it
Shelves: 2016
Alice and Oliver by Charles Bock is the story of Alice’s diagnosis with cancer (in 1993) and her struggle to survive. Alice and her husband, Oliver have a five-month old daughter named Doe (poor kid). Alice, Oliver, and Doe are on their way to Alice’s hometown to visit her mother for Thanksgiving when Alice becomes very sick. when Alice falls ill and is taken to Dr. Glenn. Dr. Glenn discovers that Alice has an extremely low white count and immediately has her transferred by ambulance to the hosp ...more
Sep 10, 2016 rated it really liked it
After listening to the author discuss this book on NPR and its connection to his wife's battle with cancer, I was moved to read it. Alice and Oliver are new parents of a baby girl and like most couples, juggle the joys and uncertainties of parenting with the responsibilities of working life. The narration shifts between Alice and Oliver and as the story begins, they seem to be succeeding and are clearly in love when Alice is diagnosed with cancer. There are heartbreaking moments in the novel for ...more
Apr 15, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
Random House Publishing Group - Random House and NetGalley provided me with an electronic copy of Alice & Oliver, in exchange for an honest review.

Months after having her baby, Doe, Alice Culvert is shocked with a diagnosis of Acute Myeloid Leukemia. As she struggles through chemotherapy treatments, in an attempt to bring her into remission long enough to find a bone marrow donor, Oliver has to wade through the ever mounting bills and bureaucratic red tape. When Alice has to be admitted and isol
Jan 06, 2016 rated it liked it
I think of this book in two ways:

1 (and this is harsh): It's fundamentally boring in its real life and death problems. Anyone who has spent any time in an oncology ward (even a fancy one on the Upper East Side) will know what boring, life-sucking places they are. Bock goes into laborious detail about the diagnosis and treatment of Alice. Sometimes it works and is transcendent, sometimes it's painfully boring and dull. It's also boring in its descriptions of coding and Oliver's tech business. So
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