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Still Alice by Lisa Genova

Still Alice (original 2007; edition 2009)

by Lisa Genova

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3,5893001,471 (4.23)303
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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English (283)  Dutch (8)  Finnish (3)  Catalan (2)  Swedish (1)  Danish (1)  All languages (298)
Showing 1-5 of 283 (next | show all)
This novel is wonderful. The writing was honest and very well researched. Alice was heartbreakingly human and I cared so much for her. I found Still Alice particularly affecting as a Traumatic Brain Injury survivor, because the neurological tests for memory were hauntingly familiar, if not the same. I am so grateful to Alice (more truly, Lisa Genova) for opening my eyes to the way Alzheimer's victims must feel in those early stages or lucid moments, and I know I will be more considerate moving forward. Such a powerful book. ( )
  Jackie_Sassa | Nov 20, 2015 |
There are many different qualities that can make a novel wonderful. Some books introduce new ideas, some use careful, poetic language, and some describe settings so well their readers feel as if they've been on journeys. But Still Alice has the quality I consider the most important in a work of fiction. The characters in Lisa Genova's book are real enough for me to identify with their ambitions, joys, concerns, and tragedies. I have had a number of relatives and friends who have suffered with dementia and this fact helps me connect with the subject, but Genova's writing is what brings the people to life.

The book is about an accomplished woman, a Harvard psychology professor, who is diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's disease. Alice is an expert in linguistics, which makes the progression of her disease even more tragic. But the story isn't all negative. There's one important relationship in her life that improves as Alice is forced to learn to accept other people's opinions and to live in the moment.

Even though the book is written from Alice's point of view, it is about her friends and family almost as much as it is about her. Alice's ability to understand non-verbal communication grows as she loses her capacity to process language. In some ways this makes her a more attentive person, at least for a short period of time until she loses additional abilities. Here's a quote from a scene where Alice is watching her daughter, Lydia, rehearse a role in a play.

“Alice watched and listened and focused beyond the words the actress spoke. She saw her eyes become desperate, searching, pleading for truth. She saw them land softly and gratefully on it. Her voice felt at first tentative and scared. Slowly, and without getting louder, it grew more confident and then joyful, playing sometimes like a song. Her eyebrows and shoulders and hands softened and opened, asking for acceptance and offering forgiveness. Her voice and body created an energy that filled Alice and moved her to tears. She squeezed the beautiful baby in her lap and kissed his sweet-smelling head.
The actress stopped and came back into herself. She looked at Alice and waited.
“Okay, what do you feel?”
“I feel love. It’s about love.”

I loved the way I could feel what Alice was feeling. That process not only helped me enjoy the book, but I believe it will make me a better caretaker.

Recommending Still Alice is tricky, because some people who are or have been caretakers will benefit from seeing the process through Alice's eyes, while others will not be able to handle the emotions the story can reawaken.

Steve Lindahl – author of Motherless Soul and White Horse Regressions ( )
  SteveLindahl | Nov 9, 2015 |
Alice Howland is a fifty-year-old Harvard professor who is starting to forget things. She chalks it up to being really busy, swamped with giving lectures and traveling to conferences. The memory infractions keep getting more bothersome, so Alice's doctor puts her through various tests before diagnosing her with early-onset Alzheimer's disease. This, of course, throws Alice's life off course and turns everything upside down. I absolutely love that, despite becoming more and more unreliable, Alice is the first person narrator throughout the whole story. It's so interesting to be inside her head as her brain deteriorates. My maternal grandmother had Alzheimer's and hallucinated towards the end of her life, and I wanted so badly to know exactly what was going through her mind. Since she has a PhD in neuroscience herself, and did extensive research on Alzheimer's, I feel like Genova's book is the closest I will come to understanding what went on in my grandmother's mind. ( )
  howifeelaboutbooks | Nov 4, 2015 |
I read this book in two sittings. I could not put it down. A beautiful story about a woman (a Harvard professor, no less) who has early onset Alzheimer's Disease.

You would think that it would be a sad tale, and in some minor ways it is. Overall, it is a glimpse at what it would be like to have the disease, how things change and how those afflicted deal with it.

In many ways Alzheimer's was a blessing for Alice. She lets go of her work life and becomes an important, loved member of her family.

I highly recommend this book for anyone, but in particular book clubs as I'm sure it will generate good discussion. I read it for my book club and am eagerly anticipating our meeting. ( )
  stacykurko | Oct 29, 2015 |
Although it seemed frightening to read because I felt that I had some of the symptoms, at least when I first began reading, I found I did not. I really liked the book. It was an easy read with just enough scientific detail and story to make it move. The characters were authentic, as was the plot. Telling the story from Alice's point-of-view created an understanding and empathy with Alzheimer's victims. This reading was for book club, so I read for detail, but the first time I read the book, I read for story. I needed to see what happened. I loved it this time; I was troubled by it the first time. ( )
  bereanna | Oct 28, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 283 (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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