When Dr. Alice Howland first starts forgetting things like words when giving a speech, she thinks it might be because of menopause. But when she gets lost jogging near her house, on a route she has taken many times, she knows something is seriously wrong and seeks medical help. Not quite fifty, she is totally unprepared for the diagnosis - early onset Alzheimer's. As the disease progresses, Alice and her husband John learn everything they can about the disease and treatments, but Alzheimer's quickly takes its toll on both Alice and her family.
"Still Alice" is a beautifully written, heartbreaking novel about the devastating affect Alzheimer's has on its victims and their families. Author Lisa Genova's choice of Alice - young, in shape, and intelligent (she's a Psychiatry Professor at Harvard) - shows that Alzheimer's can strike anyone, not just the elderly. The book is written from Alice's viewpoint, but Genova does a good job of showing the affect of Alzheimer's not only on Alice, but how her family (John, and their children - Anna, Tom, and Lydia) struggle with the changes in Alice. Genova does an excellent job of describing what is going on in Alice's head as the dementia increases. In fact, Genova does such a good job that I sometimes forgot the book was fiction and not about a real person.
"Still Alice" takes place over a relatively short period of time (September 2002 to September 2005) and it is frightening how fast the Alzheimer's takes over Alice. Genova skillfully captures the bewilderment Alice feels and there are some moments in the book that are very moving - especially a moment involving a black rug and a moment involving a message a healthier Alice left for a sicker Alice. The reaction of Alice's family as they deal not only with her having Alzheimer's but the fact that her children may inherit the disease is very realistic. Inevitably, of course, life goes on and Genova expertly shows Alice's family as they move on with their lives, even if readers won't always agree with their actions. If I have any quibble with the book, it's that it is one chapter too long - the second to last chapter ended on a poignant note and I think Genova should have stopped the book there.
"Still Alice" is a moving tale about the devastating affect Alzheimer's can have on a family. (A portion of the sale of each novel will go to the Alzheimer's Association.)
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book for free. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."