Book review: Still Alice by Lisa Genova...
You've probably heard of the book Still Alice- or at least the film which recently won an oscar for Julianne Moore in her portrayal of Alice. Alice is a fifty year old successful professor of linguistics at Harvard, regarded as an expert in her field. She is happily married and is a mother to three grown up kids. Then she starts to forget things. Little things at first, but they soon become more noticeable, and when on a walk near her home she suddenly gets lost and forgets where she is, she goes to the doctor.
She gets the shock diagnosis that she has early- onset Alzheimer's disease. This is a story of how she copes with her diagnosis and progressing illness and also how the people around her deal with it.
The book is written in third person, but from Alice's perspective. So when she becomes disorientated or forgetful the reader is right there with her. It's sometimes difficult to read about her slow decline, and the loss of her ability to do the things she loves like teaching, reading, and eventually following conversations and going out alone. What shines through is Alice's optimism ever present that she will not loose herself, desperately clinging onto her self identity.
"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 believe it is."
Still Alice was definitely an emotional read, there were some parts that did bring a tear to my eye, but what was very clear was that every single detail of this book had been researched to give a true account of someone with Alzheimer's. Genova herself has a ph.D in neuroscience, and worked with many experts and people with the disease to give a true portrayal.
I thought Alice was a likeable protagonist, but I must admit there were times I really did not like her family. Their reactions and they way they dealt with the diagnosis really annoyed me! Aside from Alice's younger daughter (who was a very likeable character) her other two kids, when she revealed her illness, seemed more concerned about whether it meant they'd get it. I also found it hard to understand her husbands actions a lot of the time too. An enjoyable aspect of the book, though was the growing relationship between Alice and her once distant youngest daughter Lydia.
There is so much more I could talk about, but then this review would go on forever! Overall I really enjoyed this book. It was an emotional, but beautiful story which has given me a whole new understanding of Alzheimer's disease. On Goodreads I gave it 4 stars out of 5 and wholeheartedly recommend it. Now I definitely want to watch the film...