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Still Alice by Lisa Genova

Still Alice (original 2007; edition 2009)

by Lisa Genova

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4,0683401,248 (4.23)319
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)

  1. 20
    Awakenings by Oliver Sacks (dreamydress48)
  2. 10
    Tangles: A Story About Alzheimer's, My Mother, and Me by Sarah Leavitt (TransatlanticAgency)
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    25 Months: A Memoir by Linda McK. Stewart (meggyweg)
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    Rough Music by Patrick Gale (LynnB)
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    Elizabeth Is Missing by Emma Healey (Deelightful)
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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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    Lost: A Novel by Alice Lichtenstein (dara85)
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    When It Gets Dark: An Enlightened Reflection on Life with Alzheimer's by Thomas DeBaggio (Mareofthesea)
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    The Leisure Seeker by Michael Zadoorian (SqueakyChu)
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    The Forgetting: Alzheimer's: Portrait of an Epidemic by David Shenk (kathrynnd)
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Parents often keep records of their children when they experience firsts: First time their eyes track them. First smile. First time to tun over. First time eating solid food. First tooth. First word. First step.
STILL ALICE records the firsts of an adult, Dr. Alice Howland, tenured cognitive psychology professor at Harvard University. Her firsts, however, are a reversal of the baby books. When she was fifty years old, Alice was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s. She recognized that she had a problem when she had difficulty remembering words and when she got lost a few blocks from her home as she followed a familiar route. At first, she didn’t share the information with anyone, including her husband and children. But her doctor insisted that she bring her husband or another person to her appointments. As she was coping with the diagnosis from one perspective, her husband had difficulty accepting it and then focused on trying to cure it, an impossible task. Their relationship, once very close, had changed as he spent more and more time with his medical work. She notices his twisting his wedding ring around a lot, often a sign of uncertainty in the marriage.
Her children, all adults, reacted to the diagnosis in various ways, all positive and supportive, especially when they learned that her illness was hereditary. Her older daughter and her husband were trying to conceive a baby at the time.
While she didn’t let anyone at work know about her illness, she cut back on some of her professional activities until that was no longer possible.
The book is not maudlin but shows the progression of the disease through Alice’s eyes. At first, she says, “She wished she had cancer instead....With cancer, she’d have something that she could fight....There was a chance that she could win. Her family and the community at Harvard would rally behind her battle and consider it noble. And even if defeated in the end, she’d be able to look them knowingly in the eye and say good-bye before she left.” She realized that people associated Alzheimer’s with mental illness and tended to avoid people with the disease.
One of the thoughts that comforted her when she got the diagnosis was a comment her mother had made decades earlier. “Her mother told her not to be sad for the butterflies, that just because their lives were short didn’t mean they were tragic. Watching them flying in the warm sun among the daisies in their garden, her mother had said to her, See, they have a beautiful life.”
While STILL ALICE is a novel, the situations are real. Lisa Genova provides resources for additional information for people living with Alzheimer’s and those close to them. One important point is that the person can often understand what is being said but cannot form the words to respond.
As a volunteer guardian, I have had many wards who had dementia. One of them taught me to look at the world through her eyes, not my own. She didn’t know what world she lived in, but she loved it. She was one of the happiest people I even knew.
The book is well written and a good resource for getting a better understanding of Alzheimer’s. There is some repetition, but it usually reflects what is going on in Alice’s mind. ( )
  Judiex | Sep 17, 2016 |
I read this on the recommendation of my sister and have to say it has to be the best book I have read this year. It is heartbreaking with a tiny touch of humour to it, if that is possible!
The book is about Alice and her not so slow downfall into early on-set Alzheimer's at the age of 50. Alice is a very well respected professor of linguistics at Harvard university, traveling all over the globe giving lectures, and her opinion is listened to with respect. She feels it all happening in her head and can't do a thing about it.
The author Lisa Genova captures the progressive descent beautifully, with sympathy and empathy and manages to get a touch of humour in it from time to time. The way she writes, repeating sentences often and with little asides brings it home to you how awful this disease is.
It is heartbreaking to read and I have to admit to a little tear after Alice gives her talk to the world renown experts in the disease.
You just have to read this book, yes, it is sad but so well written, and does have it's heartwarming bits too. ( )
  Glorybe1 | Sep 15, 2016 |
A beautiful, touching story that gives great understanding and sympathy for the tragic disease of Alzheimers.
11/29/12 - I am facilitating a book discussion group on this book and re-read it. I enjoyed it even more the second time. I hope others enjoy it. ( )
  Luke_Brown | Sep 10, 2016 |
When Harvard psychology professor Alice Howland starts forgetting everyday things, it turns out not to be a sign of stress, but the beginning of her long path into early onset Alzheimer's disease. Genova has done a fantastic job of describing a very tragic disease in a remarkably unsentimental way. I picked this up because I have a close family-member who is suffering from this nightmarish disease and, even though it was at times very hard to read, it was very rewarding to get even a little glimpse into the monster that is destroying the minds of so many people's loved ones. Genova's prose is very easy to read, which I was happy about since the topic is tricky enough as it is, but I wouldn't have complained if the characters had been a little more developed - as it is now they are functions of the story first and people second. Recommended for anyone who has an interest in what Alzheimer's can look like from the inside. ( )
  -Eva- | Sep 3, 2016 |
I didn't expect to enjoy this book; was, in fact, dreading reading it for my book group. Once begun, however, the book proved to be a compelling story, and, although it was as full of sadness and heartbreak as I had feared, there was a strong uplifting element that left this reader pondering the issue of what makes a life worth living. It's a very quick read--I finished it in a few hours, but the book draws you in with engaging, intelligent, flawed characters and their powerlessness against this juggernaut of a disease. Well worth reading. ( )
1 vote turtlesleap | Aug 16, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 324 (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
First words
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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