Thursday, February 12, 2015

Still Alice: book review

Still Alice by Lisa Genova

I have a book hangover (the inability to start a new book because you are still living in the one you just finished).

I tend to really get into a movie I am watching or a book I am reading. It's called escapism for a reason, escape your real life and live in the movie or book for a brief time. More than once I have been told, "It's just a movie," after going on and on about why or how something happened.

I just finished reading Still Alice. Written from Alice's perspective with the reader at her side, I was right there with her when she got lost only a block from home, when she got her diagnosis of early onset Alzheimer's disease, I felt the confusion and frustration and anger and depression right along with her. Such a brilliant mind, a psychology professor at Harvard, ironically specializing in linguistics and language. Why does this have to happen?

She did research into her new diagnosis, her future: No longer works. Home or hospital bound. No longer handles money. No longer goes out unaccompanied. The worst of it came under the heading 'Communications.' Speech is almost unintelligible. Does not understand what people are saying. Has given up reading. Never writes. No more language. 

She thought about all the books she had always wanted to read, the ones waiting for her on the bookshelf in the bedroom, the ones she figured she would have time for later. 

Her family was very supportive once she finally told them. Her children made DVDs for her of themselves telling family stories, and of her husband telling about how they met and about their life together. 

She wrote a letter, from her coherent self to the forgetful self later on, with plans for opting out of this life before it got too bad.

Of course the entire time I was there with Alice, I was thinking about Pat and Bobbie and even Kay, why them, why anyone?

A novel, fiction, about a very real subject that affects a lot of people. A story about Alice and her mind, and the gradual loss of it. I found myself reaching for a tissue a couple of times, geesh it is just a book, but no, it is not.

Where did you go, are you hiding in there? Can you hear me, do you know me?

I am still in here. I am still Alice.

Still Alice by Lisa Genova

Looking forward to seeing Still Alice the movie. 

facts and figures from Alzheimer Association:


Alzheimer’s is the 6TH LEADING CAUSE of death in the United States

MORE THAN 5 MILLION Americans are living with Alzheimer’s. 

EVERY 67 SECONDS, someone in the United States develops the disease.


Like I said, I tend to get into a book I am reading, imagine these things happening to me. I can see myself in Alice's shoes, can you?

Did you read The Notebook by Nicolas Sparks? Yes, it has since become a chick flick and is all about the sappy love story, but do you remember the notebook itself, and how it came about? The main female character, Allie, developed early onset Alzheimer's disease. While she still could, she started writing down stories, anything she wanted to remember later. She wrote these in a notebook, yes, THE notebook, that her husband read back to her later.

Some advice, get your affairs in order. Write down your favorite stories and memories, maybe in a daily blog :)  then all you need is someone who will take care of you and read your stories back to you. 


Lainee said...

Scary, scary stuff....

The Calico Cat said...

The scariest part for me is that Medicare can't handle the costs associated with treating baby boomers with Alzheimers.

Yet no one wants to fund research possible use of human fetal tissue/stem cells. (This kind of research is going on elsewhere.)

(Private companies don't do research into it - they can't make a bundle on selling a cure - not for Alzheimers, not for Cancer, not for any disease. & "they" don't trust giving additional funds to the Government to pay for the research - "they" want to spend on new tanks & stuff to keep old tanks running.)

Heck no one wants to fund Medicare at its current levels...