Still Alice

Still Alice

Book rating: 05 Paperback Pocket Books

By (author) Lisa Genova

List price $12.55

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  • Publisher: POCKET BOOKS
  • Format: Paperback | 336 pages
  • Dimensions: 130mm x 196mm x 24mm | 222g
  • Publication date: 4 March 2010
  • Publication City/Country: London
  • ISBN 10: 1847396240
  • ISBN 13: 9781847396242
  • Sales rank: 2,772

Product description

When Alice finds herself in the rapidly downward spiral of Alzheimer's Disease she is just fifty years old. A university professor, wife, and mother of three, she still has so much more to do - books to write, places to see, grandchildren to meet. But when she can't remember how to make her famous Christmas pudding, when she gets lost in her own back yard, when she fails to recognise her actress daughter after a superb performance, she comes up with a desperate plan. But can she see it through? Should she see it through? Losing her yesterdays, living for each day, her short-term memory is hanging on by a couple of frayed threads. But she is still Alice.

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Author information

Lisa Genova graduated valedictorian from Bates College with a degree in Biopsychology and holds a Ph.D. in Neuroscience from Harvard University. She is a member of the Dementia Advocacy and Support Network International and DementiaUSA and is an online columnist for the National Alzheimer's Association. She lives with her husband and two children on the Cape. Still Alice is her first novel. She is currently at work on her second that also centers on a neurologist impairment called Left Neglected.

Customer reviews

By Pragya 16 May 2012 5

I just finished reading this book and I'm writing with a heavy heart. I cried a couple of times and no, it wasn't due to a frustrating plot or bad writing.

This is a book about a mental disorder, about Dementia. It is written from the perspective of the sufferer, the one who suffers from this ugly disease. And that is why it hits hard. Every single sentence, every word is powerful. It makes you think, cry and feel frustrated.

Now why would you want to read a book that makes you cry and feel frustrated? Because it's reality to so many people out there, it's the life they live every single day.

Yes but why should I care? Because this disease is so prevalent, you never know when 'they' becomes 'us'. I pray that never happens but who can be sure about what life throws at you?

You should read this book if-

1. You want to understand Dementia not from a medical angle but a personal angle, to hear it from the one who has it.

2. To know what Dementia is, what it does.

3. To be aware of the symptoms of Dementia in order to be able to take care of someone suffering from this disease. No this is not a book training you on support but it will help sensitize you towards their needs and feelings.

4. If you are a mental health worker, this is a MUST for you. Why me? I know everything there is to know about the disease. I have read numerous books, articles and attended conferences about it. What new can this book tell me? This book will help you to let go of everything that you learnt from books etc. And that, believe me, is a good thing.

Being a Clinical Psychologist myself, I love to read books like this. Yes, I study my texts and no, I don't read books like this to help me learn my text, though it is an added advantage. But the real reason why I read and appreciate these books is that something you do day in and day out makes you mechanical to the use of it, like driving a car. You don't have to remember and revise each step before you shift gear. And that is precisely what happens (in differing degrees with different people) when you are a mental health worker and see people afflicted with a disease every single day. You know how to diagnose and provide intervention for each disease. But in order not to forget how it feels to the person across the table and to refresh out sensitivity to them, these books come in handy. It sure did with me.

Last words: Read it.

By Maggie Swithenbank 02 Nov 2011 5

So glad I read this book! Many of us think we have Alzheimers Disease when we're forgetful...but there's nothing like reading about it from the patient's perspective, especially when the 'patient' is a lively, energetic mother who is not 'old'...This is a heartwarming, inspiring and terrifying book about what it's like to lose your mind...Highly recommended for Book Clubs!

By barbara prendota 26 Aug 2011 5

this is such a good read! i loved it from the very first page
definitely recommendable to anyone- man or a woman

By Adele Ward 29 Dec 2010 5

Pageturner, alzheimers and novel aren?t three words you'd normally expect to see in the same sentence, and yet they go together to describe Still Alice, the debut from Simon & Schuster by Lisa Genova. When I saw the blurb I was a bit reluctant to start reading, thinking the subject would be depressing and stressful. How wrong I was.

Still Alice is a remarkable novel that will change the way you view alzheimers and the way you respond to people with this condition. It will change the way you think about alzheimers if you are ever diagnosed with it, and will certainly influence the way you relate to people close to you if they become affected. If you are already living with alzheimers, as a patient or as a friend, relative or professional, Still Alice is a novel you should take a look at.

Genova puts us right inside the experience of alzheimers by telling this story through the first person narrative of Alice, a university professor who is just 50 when she gets her diagnosis. She knows exactly what this will mean because, like Genova, she is a neuroscience specialist. The novel opens with Alice at her most capable intellectually known in academic circles for her amazing ability to remember the detailed facts of her subject, including where precisely to find the quotes to reference research papers.

Alice relaxes by jogging round her town, knowing the map of the area and loving her independence. Admired by her colleagues and loved by her husband and daughters, she's the type of career woman and successful family organiser many would aspire to emulate. Like us, she puts the first signs of memory loss down to trying to do too many things at once, but the diagnosis comes quite early in the novel. After that, due to her professional expertise, she knows how to recognise and chart her own progress into alzheimers and how she feels she should prepare for what is to come.

This knowledge also lets her find strategies to cope with each stage and to plan for what she wants to do when it goes too far. She knows she won't be able to remember how or why she will want to end it all at a certain stage, so she leaves instructions for herself that she hopes she will follow regardless. Her Blackberry soon becomes her way of giving herself a To Do list to follow, as memory fails, and it has one important instruction of how to find the means of suicide on the day she can't remember the answer to a few simple questions.

Once she no longer remembers simple information about her family she feels it will be time to use some items she has prepared to kill herself. Many of us would feel we would want to do the same. But as the story progresses, as we really feel what it is like to be Alice, will we still want her to commit suicide at that key moment or will we see alzheimers in a different way? Will Alice manage to go through with her initial plan right to the end?

I won't spoil Still Alice by giving you the answers to this. All I can say is that suicide won't be a plan I'll be making if I ever get this diagnosis, and I'll remember Alice if ever those close to me are affected by alzheimers. I will never see this condition in the same way again, and that?s a remarkable achievement by a novelist writing about such an important subject. On a purely stylistic level, Genova never swerves from her course of only seeing this through Alice's eyes, and once we start this experience with her we can't stop reading until we see it through.

Editorial reviews

First novel efficiently showcases the experience of developing early-onset Alzheimer's.In 24 months, 49-year-old Harvard psychology professor Alice Howland exchanges the role of high-achieving teacher, wife and mother of three for that of a disoriented, inarticulate, forgetful shell of her former self. Stricken much earlier than most by this progressive, degenerative disease for which there is no cure, Alice loses her profession, independence, clarity and contact with the world with shocking rapidity in a narrative that sometimes reads more like a dramatized documentary than three-dimensional fiction. Genova, an online columnist for the National Alzheimer's Association, has a brisk style and lays out the facts of the disease - statistics, tests, drugs, clinical trials - plainly, often rather technically. The responses to Alice of her three grown-up children, who are also at risk of the disease; the struggles of her equally high-flying husband, a Harvard biologist; and Alice's own emotional responses, including fear, suicidal thoughts, shame and panic, are offered in semi-educational fashion, sometimes movingly, sometimes mechanically. Alice's address to the Alzheimer's Association Annual Dementia Care Conference is an affecting final public statement before her descent into fog and the loving support of her children.Worthy, benign and readable, but not always lifelike. (Kirkus Reviews)