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 Still Alice by Lisa Genova

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Join date : 2008-10-22
Age : 50
Location : Geneva, Illinois

PostSubject: Still Alice by Lisa Genova   Sat 07 Mar 2009, 3:40 pm

This is #9 on this week's paperback trade fiction list from the New York Times

My grandmother died from Alzheimer's complications, so I always like to look for books and movies that handle the disease with grace and insight. The reviews everywhere for this quiet little book are through the roof. So I had to read it. Here is a quick blurb about it:

“With grace and compassion, Lisa Genova writes about the enormous white emptiness created by Alzheimer’s in the mind of the still-too-young and active Alice. A kind of ominous suspense attends her gathering forgetfulness, and Genova puts us, sympathetically, right inside her plight. Somehow, too, she portrays the family’s response as a loving one, and hints at the other hopeful, helpful response that science will eventually provide.” Mopsy Kennedy, Improper Bostonian



Review to follow.

Carolyn
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PostSubject: Review of Still Alice by Lisa Genova   Mon 09 Mar 2009, 10:45 am

Review of Still Alice by Lisa Genova (c. 2006)

This is an excellent book on the neuroscience, neuroanatomy and the resulting emotional and physical effects of early-onset Alzheimer's disease ~ as told from the perspective from the diagnosed (Alice - a 50-year-old Harvard Professor). The research is flawless and the writing competent.

My only real complaint with this book is that the characters just seem like vessels for the author to expound on the her copious amount of scientific and medical knowledge on the subject. I never got a feel for the pre-diagnosed Alice, or John, her husband (other than sort of mild dislike - they are both cold, emotionless people before the diagnosis). Even their conversation is flat and staid. But they were, in fact, scientists, so perhaps that was supposed to be why they were so analytical and dry about everything. But that being said, I still enjoyed the book. It's a surprisingly easy, quick read despite the science involved.

There is one incredibly powerful scene where Alice is trying to get dressed to go running (she is told exercise helps stave off symptoms, but since she gets lost, her husband is forced to accompany her on runs, a task he greatly dislikes), and while husband is waiting patiently outside, she gets stuck in the broom closet because she cannot find the bathroom. How powerless this disease makes a person ~ very sad.

My grandmother died from Alzheimer's related complications after the prolonged illness and the portrayal of the progression of disease is very accurate ~ and the kinds of confusion that set in.

Overall, I recommend this book, but it would have been more powerful with more flushed out, dimensional humans ~ ones I cared about more. As it was, it turned out more of like reading a text book. I would "highly" recommend this book for anyone either suffering from Alzheimer's; or caregivers of same. Alzheimer's disease - as to both the sufferer and the family - is handled with grace, compassion and reality in this novel.

3 stars out of 5

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