I finally read “Still Alice” by Lisa Genova. The book came out over five years ago and has been sitting on my must-read list for almost that long. After recently hearing about the upcoming movie adaptation starring Julianne Moore, one of my favorite actresses, I put aside my other reading selections and immediately dived in to the novel.
“Still Alice” is unique because it attempts to capture the Alzheimer’s experience from a character with early-onset Alzheimer’s as she experiences the early to middle stages of the disease. This is Genova’s first novel, but as a neuroscientist, she has another important angle to add to the book.
While the main character, Alice Howland, is a respected Harvard professor, I still connected with her and could imagine my reactions being very similar to hers if I should ever be cursed with this dreaded disease. Genova does a great job of showing how those in the earlier stages of Alzheimer’s work so hard to cover up their symptoms and appear “normal.” Then one day, even their best efforts are not enough. Genova also illustrates how much fear and dread those with Alzheimer’s experience, most of it retained in an internal dialogue that their loved ones may be completely unaware exists. Some readers may be turned off by how the husband is presented in the book, but I think his response to his wife’s disease is pretty realistic, if unfortunate.
The story immediately draws you in and the main character is well-developed. She is a witty, sensitive intellectual which makes her mental decline all the more heartbreaking.
I highly recommend the book if you haven’t read it yet. If you have, let me know what you thought about the story.