A Book in Review: Still Alice

Monday, March 2, 2015

Many of you were likely watching last weekend as the beautiful Julianne Moore accepted her Oscar for Best Actress. And, although I usually zone out during the long lists of names, for her I was listening closely for one particular name -- and she said it -- Lisa Genova! The amazing author of Still Alice!

I have not seen the movie, but read the book in about three days. I will warn you: it's a tear-jerker. Not exaggerating, I think I cried an average of once per chapter. Sometimes I read books in coffee shops. Not this book!

Still Alice follows Harvard psychology professor (and mother of three) Alice Howland through her devastating diagnosis of early-onset Alzheimer's and the progression of the disease. Of course, life doesn't stop as her memory gets worse -- Alice has a Harvard professor husband and three children who are also greatly impacted by her shocking diagnosis. Her oldest daughter is married and thinking of having children, and now has the potential of a genetic disease to consider before reproducing, her youngest daughter is rebellious, refusing to go to go college despite her mother's wishes. Alice also has a fascinating, tragic backstory that you learn bits and pieces of throughout the novel.

 Genova depicts Alzheimer's in such a relatable way; it feels like you are experiencing it along with Alice and her family. (Of course, hopefully none of us have ever actually have to experience the disease first hand.)

Genova weaves in intriguing facts about Alzheimer's (neurons! synapses! genetic mutations! dominant genes! etc!) And, although I was never particularly allured by neuroscience, I now feel much more educated about how the brain works, and how this disease takes its toll.

The heart-wrenching story of Alice did more than educate, it inspired. This compelling book made me thankful for every day I have as a highly-functioning 26 year-old. It made me grateful for all that I can do independently. After reading this story, I am determined to seize each moment and not take a day for granted. And because of that, I strongly recommend reading it. Just not in a public place if you're prone to crying.

Have any of you seen the movie? I'm obviously afraid it will be a cry-fest for me, but do want to see it. Watching Kristen Stewart (who plays the rebellious daughter) play something other than Bella is a fun bonus too! And of course, the Oscar winner herself!

1 comment:

  1. I think I'm going to read this at a coffee shop just so I can conquer my fear of crying in public. ;) (I assume I will realize this is a terrible idea as it is happening.)