“Still Alice” by Lisa Genova

Still Alice

(Author: Lisa Genova) + (Year: 2007) + (Goodreads)


Review:

3.5 stars

This book influenced me very much, and not in just one way. At least for me, it was a very hard read – not in the way of writing, but in the things it describes. As you have probably noticed, the rating is not five stars, because despite it’s many virtues, the book didn’t give me resolve and a proper closure. But aside from that, it’s a difficult, but maybe a necessary book to read.

Still Alice(with a movie with the same title, which earned Julianne Moore an Oscar this year) tells the story of a brilliant psychologist who learns that she has Alzheimer’s Disease. From there on, the book describes her struggles with the illness and the way both she and her family are coping with it.

What really impressed me in Still Alice was the way the author deals with describing Alice’s deteriorating state of mind. I was curious and a bit suspicious as to how she was going to do it and whether it’s going to be just a statement that one of the character makes from time to time so that the reader knows what’s going on. However, Genova handled it brilliantly by making us privy to Alice’s thoughts and at the same time also makes us able to look at her from outside, therefore making us witnesses to every little change that happens with her. The writing as a whole, and the methods Lisa Genova uses are 5/5. 

Alice as a character was very admirable. I always love reading about women who are successful in a field, such as Alice with her Harvard career. It was hard to read about how she slowly falls away from the world she is used to and how her colleagues treat her. I really hate how society leaves out people with diseases like Alzheimer’s, like they are contagious or something – it makes me really angry. What I didn’t appreciate in Alice’s character was her naivety toward her husband…

…Who was a total asshole. John is the sort of character I’d break an arm to punch. The only moments he was supportive of her were the ones when she’s acting in a way he deems according, when she’s seemingly with her mind. It frustrated me how ashamed he is from her disease and how focused he is about his career. What good is having a successful job and lots of money if you don’t have anyone to share all of that with? Oh wait, his main goal is actually to be admired and remembered, to hell with his sick wife. What a douchebag. And what’s worse, there are probably millions of people who do the same EVERY SINGLE DAY. Not just with Alzheimer’s patients, but with people with a thousand different issues.

I tolerated Alice’s children for the most part, although I was annoyed by the way her daughter Anna was a b**ch when she found out Alice was sick and started thinking about her own behind and said something about not wanting to be a robot zombie. WHAT THE HELL??? And also Tom, who seemed to be trying to do something, or was thinking about something, because he was never acting normal after the big reveal, but we never got to understand what was happening with him.

Or with Alice at the end, for that matter.

So, Still Alice for me is a piece of great writing about one brave, but victimized by a disease, woman, and her mostly crappy family. Read on your own volition and keep in mind that the book might rattle you. What happens to Alice is something that could happen to all of us and that really shook me. Most people spend their entire life to achieve something, to have a good job, to have a good family, to be happy with the way they are, and early Alzheimer’s is just one of the many diseases that could ruin everything that you’ve ever worked for. The book shows in scary detail how thought by thought and memory by memory you loose who you are and who you ever were and wanted to be, how this disease takes everything from you until you are a shell of all of your hard work and all of the emotions you ever felt, until all you can do is just sit somewhere, unable to speak, to remember, to understand other people’s speech, to walk, to not piss yourself. It’s horrifying and very thought-provoking. Be warned.

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