Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Book Review: Still Alice By Lisa Genova

Photo taken from Goodreads

 Book Info

Title:  Still Alice 

Author:  Lisa Genova
Publisher:  Pocket Books
Language: English
Format:  Paperback 
Pages:  337 pages
ISBN-10:  1439170045
ISBN-13:  978-1439170045
Source:  Purchased, National Bookstore

From Goodreads:

"Alice Howland is proud of the life she worked so hard to build. At fifty years old, she's a cognitive psychology professor at Harvard and a world-renowned expert in linguistics with a successful husband and three grown children. When she becomes increasingly disoriented and forgetful, a tragic diagnosis of early-onset Alzheimer's disease changes her life.

As the inevitable descent into dementia strips away her sense of self, fiercely independent Alice struggles to live in the moment. While she once placed her worth and identity in her celebrated and respected academic life, now she must reevaluate her relationship with her husband, a respected scientist; her expectations of her children; and her ideas about herself and her place in the world.

At once beautiful and terrifying, Still Alice is a moving and vivid depiction of life with early-onset Alzheimer's disease that is as compelling as A Beautiful Mind and as unforgettable as Ordinary People.


I have been eyeing this book for the longest time!  When I read about this, I searched every bookstore I could visit but could not find a single copy.  I thought of getting a copy online but I was too cautious about spending on books with my credit card because I might end up with an exorbitant book debt.  So this has been on my wish list for the longest time, until I came to this bookstore in a place I don't usually go to, and there I saw it, a copy of this book and it was all I could do to keep from jumping for joy, I was so excited!

On to the review.  Because of what I have been reading about this, I had very high expectations for this book, and I am very glad that it did not disappoint.  This book was about Alice who had Early-Onset Alzheimer's Disease and how she lived out the remaining lucid days she had.  Genova had utilized her neuroscientist background to paint a very scientific yet emotional picture of Alice Howland and how her life plays out when she discovered that she had the disease.  For a renowned Harvard professor, noted for the sharpness of her brain, her intelligence, and her success as an educator, this was such a big blow and it translated well on the pages.  The occasional mention of events that were inconsistent with what actually happened even solidified the evidence of Alice's mental decline.  The book was narrated by third person but mostly seen through Alice's eyes, which provided the readers with an all-encompassing view of what was happening to Alice as if they were experiencing it themselves.  

Dialogue between the characters were used economically and sparingly, but every bit significant in contributing to a more potent painting of the situation with Alice.  Her family, her colleagues, her whole social circle were portrayed as that of real people who have an Alzheimer's patient in their midst.  Intelligently-written but very simple conversations would evoke empathy on every reader, especially for Alice's children.  Alice's husband alternated between denial and acceptance throughout the story and although it sometimes showed him as unfeeling and brutal, you could still sympathize with him as a very aggrieved husband.  As for Alice's children, their fears and dreams were given ample attention but not too much that they overshadowed their mother's story.  Even their occasional bickering was a bit humorous to read about as it was effectively written to sound as if real adults were speaking, and in a real world.

I liked how the author wrote this story with a very strong and successful woman as a subject.  It helped quell some myths about Alzheimer's, especially those about the susceptibility to this disease.  It showed how this illness does not just affect older people, but may also attack the brains of young, active individuals.  It also taught readers a lesson not to base your self-worth on your career.  Alice Howland was a successful Harvard professor, therefore, she was a successful human being.  But when Alzheimer's struck, she herself doubted her own abilities and her self-esteem dropped.  Eventually she found herself appreciating the simple things in life, like eating ice cream while walking in the streets on a sunny day. 

Although this book would ultimately sound a bit sad as we know that there are still no happy endings when it came to Alzheimer's, the tone of this book was actually very hopeful and happy as it narrated to us the story of Alice as she struggled with her disease and learned to live for the present and be proud of what she was and happy for what she still had.

A day after finishing this book, I visited this bookstore that I usually go to, and there on the shelves were two copies of this book. 


If you have any questions on this particular rating, please refer to my ratings system here.


All opinions expressed in this book review are my own and not influenced by any party in any way. 

Please contact me for questions, comments, and suggestions. 

1 comment:

  1. And I thought Alzheimer's only affect people at old age. Adding this book in my wishlist!


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