A Bookworm's Musing

Book Review: Still Alice, by Lisa Genova

This book was gifted to me by a friend. I shelved the book as to-be-read for a long time, knowing I’d not be able to read it properly. But I felt it was time that I brought it out from the back of my shelf and read it.

Dr. Alice Howland is a renowned expert in linguistics, and a cognitive psychology professor at Harvard. She has three grown up children, and a satisfying marriage. Her life seems to be on track, but then again, life has its twists and turns. She starts experiencing fleeting forgetfulness and disorientation. At first, she attributes those symptoms to normal aging and menopause. It’s not very unusual after all. But when the symptoms persist, and seem to be worsening, she consults a neurologist who confirms a fear – that she has Early Onset Alzheimer’s Disease. That turns her life on its head. With no cure or treatment available to treat the condition successfully, Alice struggles to find meaning and purpose in life.

How do I review this book, when reading it itself has been difficult? Then again, that can be because of the author. It’s hard to see someone struggle to find their identity, when much of their life, they’ve held their own. To read a story from that perspective was harder. It felt like I was reliving those memories that cannot quite be washed away. The narration is poignant, no doubt about that. But the author doesn’t have to do much to induce it. One can feel Alice’s struggle as the book moves from chapter to chapter, month to month. How her family copes with it is also brought out well. There’s a lot of drama, and that adds to Alice’s character. She aspires for greatness, and wants that quality to be in the character of the people she loves the most. I loved the speech that she delivers, and it was perhaps one of the best parts of the book. The book is quite powerful and pulls the reader into the mind of an Alzheimer’s patient. In a way, it’s terrifying too. Whether it makes more of an impact on a reader who has seen someone fall to such a disease is something I don’t know.

Without memories to hold on to, and without having a sense of self too, it’s not easy to survive. That struggle is real, and this book brings that struggle to life. I’ve seen that struggle in person, and seen where it leads. For those reasons, I am not sure this is a book I’d pick up again anytime soon. I struggled through the hours I read this book for, but it was a struggle quite worth taking, I feel.

A Score Of 9 Out Of 10
Book Details
Title: Still Alice
Author(s): Lisa Genova Genre: Fiction
ISBN/ASIN: 9781471140822 Publisher: Simon and Schuster

No payment was taken for this review. The views expressed here are mine, and they remain uninfluenced and unbiased.

(© Vinay Leo R. @ A Bookworm’s Musing
14th January 2018)



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