Alice leads a successful, fulfilling life as a wife, mother, and Harvard professor. Even after she starts to notice gaps in her memory and moments of disorientation, she still isn't prepared for the diagnosis: early-onset Alzheimer's disease. Still Alice is a rare peek into the mind of a person living with Alzheimer's--the loneliness, the fears of what's to come, the struggle to keep hold of an identity, even as it seems to be slipping away.
As someone with Alzheimer's and dementia in my family, this book was intriguing and sad. I was impressed with Lisa Genova's meticulous research and attention to detail. While I am not conversant in the medical intricacies of the disease, I was at Harvard during the same academic year covered in the story. Small details that could easily have been fudged for the story's sake (we did get feet of snow upon returning from holiday break! John Lithgow was the commencement speaker! And so on...) made me trust her attention and care of the details, and how hard she worked to get this story right. It's one that matters to many people, both those whose family members are facing the disease and those who may be facing it themselves.
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From the publisher’s description:
Still Alice is a compelling debut novel about a 50-year-old woman’s sudden descent into early onset Alzheimer’s disease, written by first-time author Lisa Genova, who holds a Ph. D in neuroscience from Harvard University.
Alice Howland, happily married with three grown children and a house on the Cape, is a celebrated Harvard professor at the height of her career when she notices a forgetfulness creeping into her life. As confusion starts to cloud her thinking and her memory begins to fail her, she receives a devastating diagnosis: early onset Alzheimer’s disease. Fiercely independent, Alice struggles to maintain her lifestyle and live in the moment, even as her sense of self is being stripped away. In turns heartbreaking, inspiring and terrifying, Still Alice captures in remarkable detail what’s it’s like to literally lose your mind…