August 29, 2010

Still Alice - Lisa Genova

Still Alice was a book I had heard bits and pieces about over time and when I found a copy at the library I picked it up to see what all of the fuss was about.

Still Alice tells the story of Harvard professor, Alice Howland, a focused, ambitious, academic family and career woman who begins to notice changes in her behaviour and memory which lead her to seek medical advice at the age of 50. The news that Alice receives is a diagnosis of early on set Alzheimer's disease which of course rocks her life, and the life of her family, completely off course.

I actually finished reading this book quite a few weeks ago now so my thoughts about it have dwindled a little in my mind - but the emotional impact the book had on me has definitely lingered.

I felt that the author did a fantastic job of focusing on the experiences of the diagnosis on Alice herself but also on her children, her husband and her colleagues and students - I like the way that the book didn't sugar coat the diagnosis or the possible and actual outcomes. Alice's perspectives of experiencing this disease and the way it slowly took away everything that was so important in her life - her academic career, her ability to read and analyse and her relationships and memories with her family was heartbreaking.

The book did have some weaknesses for me. The focus on an upper middle class, educated and financial independent main character did create some limitations in terms of exploring what this disease would be like to live with without the financial and practical resources that Alice had access to. There was also a feeling of a "text book" pathway from diagnosis through to other experiences that felt as thought the author was trying to cram in as much technical and medical information about the disease as she possibly could.

However, these minor complaints didn't take away from the overall emotional impact of the book for me - it was a beautifully told, heartbreaking story that I would recommend to others.


Anonymous said...

I agree with your review.

I at times found I was reading a medical book and questions would be asked at the end! However it does drop straight into Alice's experience.

Unknown said...

This book is fairly high on my TBR pile. Yours is the first review I've seen which has a few criticisms in it - everyone else just raves about it.

It still sounds as though something I'll enjoy though, so I'll try to fit it in soon.

Jules said...

Loved that book! A lot of emotions went through my mind while reading it! A book that make you think a little about the others and how life can be a nightmare sometimes!

Karen said...

Hi josbookjourney - It definitely mixes the medical with the personal - I think it works out ok in the end.

Hi Jackie - It is a great book and I think you will really enjoy it too - I just think it also had some weaknesses that stopped it from being a perfect and all inclusive read.

Hi Jules - It cetainly does!

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