Alice Howland has a wonderful life. She has three grown children, a loving hard-working husband, and she herself is a well established Professor at Harvard. At age fifty, she is not really too surprised when she starts to forget where she left things like her keys and her Blackberry. She is a little more concerned when she gets lost on the Harvard campus that she has always known very well, but a brief Google check regarding menopause brings up forgetfulness as one of the symptoms. Still… it doesn’t hurt to see a doctor…
Alice is stunned when she is diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s. Certainly an active woman like herself, can beat this. Yet what follows is a struggle of losing ones memories…. a family in despair and crisis, and a woman who is fighting the biggest battle of her life, just to be…
I didn’t want to read this book.
When my book club voted this as our May book club read, I was not thrilled. There are few things that truly frighten me, but the thought of not knowing who you are, or fearing people you have known all your life as they have become strangers in your mind – truly frightens me.
When I posted I was reading this on my sidebar under the Bookies tab, many readers shared what an amazing read it was, and honestly – that helped me dip cautiously into this book.
I read it… in one sitting.
Author Lisa Genova wrote something wonderful here. Brilliantly, the story is told from Alice’s perspective. Seeing Alzheimer’s through her eyes was both frightening and informing. I cringed when she introduces herself to the same woman twice, having forgotten she already had done so. When she is lost inside her own home desperately looking for the bathroom, my heart breaks for her.
Page by page as a reader, you are right there with Alice through good days and bad. This fictional story flowed so well from the very start – moments of laughter and yes, moments of tears…. this book is a MUST READ. If you are in a book club, it is an incredible discussion book as well, with questions in the back of the book.
I knew when I had read this book that our book club discussion was going to be deep and it was going to be good. There was so much to talk about! This week when we met and I started asking the questions from the book, I hardly needed to say a word… the conversation flowed. The ladies in our group has much to say about Alice’s journey, her family, and their own personal connection to Alzheimer’s as well.
This is one of those reviews where we didn’t even really need the questions. The book brought memories of people to our review that I had never met but wish I had. Grandparents were discussed, some still living with the disease, and some who have passed on. How Alzheimer’s affects each person differently was amazing. Some reverted to a much younger time in their life, believing they lived somewhere else. Others who had English as a second language – reverted to their first language. Some remembered a spouse, but could not recall anyone else.
And as in most Bookies events there was food.
Some interesting facts about Still Alice: Still Alice was initially a self published book, and approved by the Alzheimer’s Society. STILL ALICE debuted at #5 on the New York Times Bestseller list and has spent 40 weeks on that list. It won the 2008 Bronte Prize and the 2011 Bexley Book of the Year, and it was nominated for the 2010 Indies Choice Debut Book of the Year by the American Booksellers Association. It was the #6 Top Book Group Favorite of 2009 by Reading Group Choices, a 2009 Barnes & Noble Discover Pick, a 2009 Indie Next pick, a 2009 Borders Book Club Pick, and a 2009 Target Book Club pick. There are over a million copies in print, and it has been translated into 25 languages. (as seen and noted on the authors website)
A few other thoughts on this book:
Thank you to our local Library and their “Book Club In A Bag” program!