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Book Review: Still Alice by Lisa Genova

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My mother recommended this book to me a couple years ago, and a copy of it has been collecting dust on my bookshelf ever since. I was told it’s such a great book, but the subject matter scared me a little. I wasn’t keen on reading such a depressing story of a woman whose mind is slowly deteriorating due to early-onset Alzheimer’s disease.

Ever since I got my new Kindle e-reader, I’ve been devouring books, and my appetite for engrossing stories is growing with each one! Still Alice kept showing up on the “recommended for me” list on Amazon, so I downloaded the sample to see if it would whet my appetite. I found it fascinating from the first page, promptly purchased the full book, and polished it off in two days.

Yes, the subject matter is disturbing. A highly intelligent, successful woman, barely 50 years old, discovers her troubling absentmindedness is actually the beginning stages of early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. She is a respected Harvard Psychology professor. So when she starts forgetting common words during her lectures, or becomes lost and disoriented on her way home, she suspects something is very wrong. What follows is the story of how she manages to support a family and handle the high demands of her career while succumbing to this awful disease.

What’s truly fascinating about the book, however, is the way it’s written. It is written from the perspective of the woman suffering this incurable disease. Many people unfortunately witness family members as Alzheimer’s robs them of their minds and dignity, but what’s interesting is to try and understand how someone is knowingly losing their mind, from their own point of view, without much they can do to stop it.

I was a bit worried how I would feel as the book drew to a close, but without giving anything away, I will say I admire and appreciate the way the author chose to depict the progress of Alice’s illness and how she chose to respectfully conclude the story.

This is a compelling, well-written book. I would highly recommend it as a story that offers details about this mysterious disease while invoking your emotions.

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About Rochelle Kaminsky

  • If you liked Still Alice you may like The Bird House, also from Simon & Schuster, and called “a great title for book clubs . . . and especially for fans of Lisa Genova’s Still Alice” by The Library Journal.