Still Alice by Lisa Genova

Goodreads Summary: Genova’s debut revolves around Alice Howland – Harvard professor, gifted researcher and lecturer, wife, and mother of three grown children. One day, Alice sets out for a run and soon realizes she has no idea how to find her way home. It’s a route she has taken for years, but nothing looks familiar. She is utterly lost. Is her forgetfulness the result of menopausal symptoms? A ministroke? A neurological cancer? After a few doctors’ appointments and medical tests, Alice has her diagnosis, and it’s a shocker — she has early-onset Alzheimer’s disease.

What follows is the story of Alice’s slow but inevitable loss of 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. To Genova’s great credit, readers learn of the progression of Alice’s disease through the reactions of others, as Alice does, so they feel what she feels — a slowly building terror.

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My Views: I just finished reading this book and I’m writing with a heavy heart. I cried a couple of times and no, it wasn’t due to a frustrating plot or bad writing.

This is a book about a mental disorder, about Dementia. It is written from the perspective of the sufferer, the one who suffers from this ugly disease. And that is why it hits hard. Every single sentence, every word is powerful. It makes you think, cry and feel frustrated.

Now why would I want to read a book that makes me cry and feel frustrated? Because it’s reality to so many people out there, it’s the life they live every single day.

Yes but why should I care? Because this disease is so prevalent, you never know when ‘they’ becomes ‘us’. I pray that never happens but who can be sure about what life throws at you?

You should read this book if-

1. You want to understand Dementia not from a medical angle but a personal angle, to hear it from the one who has it.

2. To know what Dementia is, what it does.

3. To be aware of the symptoms of Dementia in order to be able to take care of someone suffering from this disease. No this is not a book training you on support but it will help sensitize you towards their needs and feelings.

4. If you are a mental health worker, this is a MUST for you. Why me? I know everything there is to know about the disease. I have read numerous books, articles and attended conferences about it. What new can this book tell me? This book will help you to let go of everything that you learnt from books etc. And that, believe me, is a good thing.

Being a Clinical Psychologist myself, I love to read books like this. Yes, I study my texts and no, I don’t read books like this to help me learn my text, though it is an added advantage. But the real reason why I read and appreciate these books is that something you do day in and day out makes you mechanical to the use of it, like driving a car. You don’t have to remember and revise each step before you shift gear. And that is precisely what happens (in differing degrees with different people) when you are a mental health worker and see people afflicted with a disease every single day. You know how to diagnose and provide intervention for each disease. But in order not to forget how it feels to the person across the table and to refresh our sensitivity to them, these books come in handy. It sure did with me.

Last words: Read it.

5/5 stars – I loved it.

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8 thoughts on “Still Alice by Lisa Genova

  1. So glad you reviewed this book, Pragya … I have been wanting to read it. My mother’s friend had a similar experience. She was a vivacious, smart, intelligent, and independent woman who had her entire life yanked away by Dementia. I will definitely pick it up now.

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  2. I have this on my TBR list. I read Left Neglected which Lisa Genova also wrote, last year. If you liked Still Alice you’ll probably like Left Neglected as well. 🙂 Thanks for such an honest and thorough review. 🙂

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