Posted by: Jeanie F | March 21, 2010

Still Alice by Lisa Genova

I never would have read this book, left to myself, because of the subject – early-onset Alzheimer’s Disease. My darling mother struggled with memory loss and dementia in the late years of her life, and my memories of losing her, bit by bit, to her illness are painful still. The last thing I wanted to do was relive that difficult time, but this is my book club selection for the month so, reluctantly, I picked it up.

The author is a neuroscientist who knows the science of neuropathology. That she chose to tell this story as a novel  proves that she understands the emotional impact on the patient and his/her loved ones as well.

Alice is a 50-year old linguistics professor at Harvard. The book opens with Alice’s first experience with disorientation; she finds herself lost in very familiar territory. We then witness the next year and a half of her life as she receives the diagnosis, informs her family, reluctantly leaves her career, develops what coping mechanisms she can and, finally, moves beyond the point where even those are available to her. Alice is no passive victim – she’s an intelligent woman who faces what must be faced and does everything she can to forestall the inevitable. I came to love and admire her strength and ingenuity, to grieve her advancing disability.

The story is devastating, heartbreaking, and true. In spite of how disturbing it was to read, , I believe that Genova painted as accurate a picture as possible of what it must be like to live with this terrible disease. It’s not an easy read, but it is an important one. Few of us get through life without being touched in some way by Alzheimer’s. It’s a service to us and to our loved ones to understand it.

Grade: A


  1. I thank you for doing the seemingly enjoyable legwork for me. I don’t seem to make time to investigate books these days. I look forward to the end of June when I will be able to spend an entire day in the library or book store. Until then, I will rely on you for recommendations.

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