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Still Alice by Lisa Genova

Still Alice (original 2007; edition 2009)

by Lisa Genova

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3,4122821,584 (4.24)297
Title:Still Alice
Authors:Lisa Genova
Info:Pocket Books (2009), Edition: 1st Thus., Paperback, 292 pages
Collections:Your library

Work details

Still Alice by Lisa Genova (2007)

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    Awakenings by Oliver Sacks (dreamydress48)
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    25 Months: A Memoir by Linda McK. Stewart (meggyweg)
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    Tangles: A Story About Alzheimer's, My Mother, and Me by Sarah Leavitt (TransatlanticAgency)
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    Lost: A Novel by Alice Lichtenstein (dara85)
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    Turn of Mind by Alice LaPlante (BookshelfMonstrosity)
    BookshelfMonstrosity: Unlike the psychologically suspenseful mystery Turn of Mind, Still Alice is mainstream fiction. Despite differences in plot, genre, and feel, both sensitively portray the disorientation and disintegrating memory of Alzheimer's patients.… (more)
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English (268)  Dutch (7)  Finnish (3)  Catalan (2)  Swedish (1)  All languages (281)
Showing 1-5 of 268 (next | show all)
I give this book 5 stars for the wealth of information provided on Alzheimer's and persons affected by Alzheimer's disease. The format was a little frustrating at times but it was an interesting perspective on the disease. Funny thing, I couldn't stay awake through the movie. ( )
  mootzymom | Jun 29, 2015 |
Comprehensive story of living with early onset Alzheimers
I thought this book dealt with early onset Alzheimers very well. It also demonstrated that it is a disease that has nothing to do with intelligence, using the brain, memory prior to onset. Some of the most brilliant and active people in the world can suddenly start to 'forget' things or become unsure. Unfortunately, early onset appears to move along more rapidly than people who show signs of it later in life.

Alzheimers patients are adept at hiding their symptoms, and the book shows how they work around their 'forgetfulness'. Alice is a brilliant middle-aged professor. She begins to notice that she feels unsure of herself at times, notices things missing from where she would normally keep them, and just generally feel overwhelmed. As time goes on she finds ways to cope with what she is forgetting by making notes, writing on her arms, trying to ignore the inevitable. Even at that it takes a long time before the family finally gives in to the reality of her situation. When she is unable to remember a speech, or is overcome with confusion or lost, she must accept her reality.

I found the book to be a valuable insight into how Alzheimers might work, although it isn't always consistent in its timing, symptoms and outward appearance. The fact that early memory is often intact makes it difficult to notice or reconcile. Lisa Genova has presented a book both helpful and personal. I would recommend it to anyone who is trying to understand another person's confusion, memory hiccups, sometimes irrational behaviour, especially if the patient is still quite young. Well written. ( )
  readerbynight | Jun 2, 2015 |
I thoroughly enjoyed the novel STILL ALICE by Lisa Genoa. It has stimulated me to review and have an introspection about my life and current ways of living. The rapid deterioration of the main character due to Alzheimer's Disease poses several questions. What do I want to accomplish or leave as a legacy while I am still fully functional? Do I want to go on with my current agenda, work/life priorities or should I revisit them? What can we do to advance medical treatment? This is a good reading that will certainly influence your next phases in life. ( )
  arcangelpr | May 23, 2015 |
Amazon Summary:
Alice Howland is proud of the life she worked so hard to build. At fifty years old, she’s a cognitive psychology professor at Harvard and a world-renowned expert in linguistics with a successful husband and three grown children. When she becomes increasingly disoriented and forgetful, a tragic diagnosis changes her life—and her relationship with her family and the world—forever.

I completely, absolutely recommend picking this one up. I love that the narrative is from Alice's point of view - which makes the book slightly more heartbreaking, but genuine. It is definitely a light book on a heavy subject - something that will be quick and easy to finish, but will stay in your thoughts for a while afterwards. Genova does a great job showcasing different reactions family and friends have towards the disease, as well as from a personal level as someone going through it. If you know anyone who has gone through this (or something similar), it would be a particularly good read (but grab the tissues). I actually wrapped this one up for my mother for this mother's day, as her mother went through a very similar illness and passed in August. ( )
  skrouhan | May 9, 2015 |
An expert in linguistics at Harvard University, Alice Howland has achieved much and looks forward to continuing to push her field forward. But when her memory begins to fail and she finds herself experiencing brief spells of disorientation, Alice is willing to do anything to get her life back on track. When her illness is finally diagnosed, it’s devastating: early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. With no cure and treatments that can only delay, not stop, her deterioration, Alice is forced to suffer the disintegration of her memories. Meanwhile, each member of her family reacts in a different way, and the loss of those relationships pains Alice even as she is unable to recognize her children and her husband.

When I was in junior high, my grandmother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Being a callous young person, I never really tried to see the disease from her perspective, and at times I even resented having to spend time with a woman who had no idea who I was anyway. It’s something I always regretted, years later, and I wished that I had made more of an effort to understand her. Still Alice acts as a gateway into the mind of a woman with Alzheimer’s, and one of the book’s strengths is how clearly it illustrates the effects of the disease. On “good” days, Alice can interact with her family and friends nearly as well as she did before. But the disease is always present. First reading medical journals becomes too taxing, than novels, and eventually movies become too difficult for Alice to follow. It’s quite heartbreaking, and difficult to read. As the chapters progress, Alice’s advanced vocabulary and attention to detail devolve as she is no longer able to place events in context.

Equally sad is the breakdown in her relationships. As her independence is stripped away, Alice begins to realize that something is broken in her marriage. Something is missing from her relationship with her husband. Before, she was so busy that she didn’t notice, and now that she just wants to spend time with him, he’s the one who always has somewhere to be and no time to just relax at her side. This fosters such an intense solitude and loneliness that even Alice’s disorientation can’t displace. On the one hand, I felt such an intense guilt as I read these pages because I remembered pushing my grandmother away in a similar fashion. On the other hand, my grandfather was devoted to her and spent most of his time caring for her with love and compassion, so I know she never felt this same sorrow as Alice, and that is a comfort.

Early in the disease, Alice takes care to provide herself with a “way out”, leaving detailed instructions for her future self to follow when too much of her memory is gone. This preparation for suicide seems cold-hearted, but it’s also hard to deny her that death with dignity that she craves. Ultimately, Alice is unable to fulfill the tasks laid out in the suicide instructions, but in the epilogue she is shown as not unhappy. Perhaps her healthy self would have hated the foggy, blurry life epilogue Alice lives, but she is at peace and content with her days as she finds them. It’s a hopeful note to tend on.

That hope doesn’t erase the fact that Alzheimer’s is an awful, tragic disease. But Still Alice helps articulate the suffering of those with the disease and will help readers emphasize with those who are afflicted with it. ( )
  makaiju | May 7, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 268 (next | show all)
When looking for a publisher for this story, Genova was often told that it would only appeal to the Alzheimer's community. So, she self-published and self-marketed. Word of mouth spread about the universal appeal of Still Alice, and she gained an agent, a publisher, a top-10 spot on The New York Times and Globe and Mail bestseller lists, and some high praise for her compassionate page-turner. It's well deserved.
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Even then, more than a year earlier, there were neurons in her head, not far from her ears, that were being strangled to death, too quietly for her to hear them. Some would argue that things were going so insidiously wrong that the neurons themselves initiated events that would lead to their own destruction. Whether it was molecular murder or cellular suicide, they were unable to warn her of what was happening before they died.
In Memory of Angie.
For Alena
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Alice sat at her desk in their bedroom distracted by the sounds of John racing though each of the rooms on the first floor.
Even then, more than a year earlier, there were neurons in her head, not far from her ears, that were being strangled to death, too quietly for her to hear them. Some would argue that things were going so insidiously wrong that the neurons themselves initiated events that would lead to their own destruction. Whether it was molecular murder or cellular suicide, they were unable to warn her of what was happening before they died.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0595440096, Paperback)

"Powerful, insightful, tragic, inspirational…and all too true." Alireza Atri, Massachusetts General Hospital Neurologist

“Readers…are artfully and realistically led through…a window into what to expect, highlighting the importance of allowing the person with the disease to remain a vibrant and contributing member of the community…" Peter Reed, PhD, Director of Programs, National Alzheimer's Association

“With grace and compassion, Lisa Genova writes about the enormous white emptiness created by Alzheimer’s in the mind of the still-too-young and active Alice. A kind of ominous suspense attends her gathering forgetfulness, and Genova puts us, sympathetically, right inside her plight. Somehow, too, she portrays the family’s response as a loving one, and hints at the other hopeful, helpful response that science will eventually provide.” Mopsy Kennedy, Improper Bostonian

"An intensely intimate portrait of Alzheimer's seasoned with highly accurate and useful information about this insidious and devastating disease." Dr. Rudolph E. Tanzi, co-author, Decoding Darkness: The Search for the Genetic Causes of Alzheimer's Disease

“Her (Alice's) thought patterns are so eerily like my own...amazing. It was like being in my own head and like being in hers.” James Smith, diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, age 45

“...something for the world to read.” Jeanne Lee, author of Just Love Me: My Life Turned Upside-Down By Alzheimer’s

“A laser-precise light into the lives of people with dementia and the people who love them.” Carole Mulliken, Co-Founder of DementiaUSA

"A work of pure genius. This is the book that I and many of my colleagues have anxiously awaited. The reader will journey down Dementia Road in a way that only those of us with Dementia have experienced. Until now." Charley Schneider, author of Don't Bury Me, It Ain't Over Yet

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:14:41 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Feeling at the top of her game when she is suddenly diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer's disease, Harvard psychologist Alice Howland struggles to find meaning and purpose in her life as her concept of self gradually slips away.

(summary from another edition)

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