Still Alice is a compelling debut novel about a 50-year-old woman's sudden descent into early onset Alzheimer's disease, written by first-time author Lisa Genova, who holds a Ph. D in neuroscience from Harvard University.
Alice Howland, happily married with three grown children and a house on the Cape, is a celebrated Harvard professor at the height of her career when she notices a forgetfulness creeping into her life. As confusion starts to cloud her thinking and her memory begins to fail her, she receives a devastating diagnosis: early onset Alzheimer's disease. Fiercely independent, Alice struggles to maintain her lifestyle and live in the moment, even as her sense of self is being stripped away. In turns heartbreaking, inspiring and terrifying, Still Alice captures in remarkable detail what's it's like to literally lose your mind...
Alice sat at her desk in their bedroom distracted by the sounds of John racing through each of the rooms on the first floor. She needed to finish her peer review of a paper submitted to the Journal of Cognitive Psychology before her flight, and she'd just read the same sentence three times without comprehending it. It was 7:30 according to their alarm clock, which she guessed was about ten minutes fast. She knew from the approximate time and the escalating volume of his racing that he was trying to leave, but he'd forgotten something and couldn't find it. She tapped her red pen on her bottom lip as she watched the digital numbers on the clock and listened for what she knew was coming.
She tossed her pen onto the desk and sighed. Downstairs, she found him in the living room on his knees, feeling under the couch cushions.
"Keys?" she asked.
"Glasses. Please don't lecture me, I'm late."
She followed his frantic glance to the fireplace mantle where the ...
Still Alice seems designed specifically with book clubs in mind. Not only does the subject matter lend itself to in-depth discussion, but the novel features both a reader's guide and an extensive author Q&A. Beyond the book club circuit, those curious about this insidious disease will find this an enlightening and enjoyable read.
(Reviewed by Kim Kovacs).
Full Review (485 words).
First described by German psychiatrist Alois Alzheimer in 1906, Alzheimer's Disease (AD) is the most common form of dementia. It is a progressive brain disorder in which the nerve cells in the brain gradually die off. It afflicts an estimated 26 million people world-wide, and of those, approximately 4.5 million live in the United States. It is the seventh leading cause of death in the country and the fifth leading cause of death for those over age 65. 17% of women and 10% of men age 55 and older can expect to develop AD in their remaining lifetime (the difference between the genders is thought by most to be because of greater female longevity rather than an increased risk for women).
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