Publication Date: January 2009 (1st published 2007)
Time/Pages: 7hrs 51mins/292 pages
Book Source: Own audio
Narrator: Lisa Genova
Synopsis: Alice Howland - Harvard professor, gifted researcher and lecturer, wife, and mother of three grown children - sets out for a run and soon realizes she has no idea how to find her way home. She has taken the route for years, but nothing looks familiar. She is utterly lost. Medical consults reveal early-onset Alzheimer's.
Alice's slowly but inevitably loses memory and connection with reality, told from her perspective. She gradually loses the ability to follow a conversational thread, the story line of a book, or to recall information she heard just moments before. Genova's debut shows the disease progression through the reactions of others, as Alice does, so readers feel what she feels - a slowly building terror.
There are few of us not touched by someone with Alzheimer's. Experiences, thoughts, memories define who we are, to lose them is to lose the essence of one's self ... and that quite frankly scares me to death.
Still Alice is told from the perspective of 50 year old Alice Howland, a cognitive Psychology Professor, driven, highly accomplished, controlling but intelligence is no immunity to early-onset Alzheimer's Disease. As the threads of Alice's memory unravel, the fabric of her life is irrevocably changed and her relationships redefined. It's heartbreaking, inspiring, touching and very, very scary.
I've worried lately about my own lousy memory; having the name of some 'thingie' on the tip of your tongue, not being able to recall the name of someone you've known for years, finding the butter in the laundry basket and undies in the fridge and put it down to exhaustion, stress, ??early menopause. I think I giggled (a little hysterically) when I failed to remember that name and address Alice was tested with at each neuro appointment. Alzheimer's is one of those terrifying things you really don't want to think about, let alone face.
Still Alice is sensitive and funny and sad and real, so real in fact, I forgot that Alice and her family were fictional. I cried for Alice, her husband and children, the loss of memories, communication, time, a future, but I also laughed at Alice's spirit, her ingenuity, and her sense of humour. There were scenes that broke my heart; Alice disorientated in her own home needing to use the bathroom, the black mat, not knowing her children.
“You’re so beautiful,” said Alice. “I’m so afraid of looking at you and not knowing who you are.”
“I think that even if you don’t know who I am someday, you’ll still know that I love you.”
“What if I see you, and I don’t know that you’re my daughter, and I don’t know that you love me?”
“Then, I’ll tell you that I do, and you’ll believe me.”
Alice liked that.
The mother in her believed that the love she had for her daughter was safe from the mayhem in her mind, because it lived in her heart.
Still Alice prompts the reader that Alice is still ... Alice, more than a cruel disease, entitled to dignity and respect.
This emotionally powerful 5 star read is marred only by the audio narrator. Lisa Genova's writing is beautiful in its strength and raw poignancy so I'll forgive her monotone narration but she really should stick with what she does best ;)
Recommend: Yes! A story that deserves to be read, needs to be read ... by everyone.