Rating: 4 stars
Rating: 4 stars
Helen Thinks: Alice Howland is a fifty year old woman that works at Harvard as a cognitive psychology professor and is a renowned expert in linguistics. She’s proud of the life she has built for herself, her husband and her three children. Then one day, during a lecture, she finds herself struggling to remember a simple word that she uses on a regular basis during her lectures. She dismisses it as old age combined with tiredness but eventually the problem becomes more regular until one day when out jogging she can’t remember where she is even though it’s the same route she always takes. Finally deciding that she can’t hide from this any longer, Alice visits the doctor where she is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease. “Still Alice” follows her journey as the disease has a major impact on both her professional and personal life.
Alzheimer’s Disease is the most common form of Dementia and according to the Alzheimer’s association an estimated five million Americans are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. I decided to read the book because I had seen the movie (starring Julianne Moore, Alec Baldwin and Kirsten Stewart) advertised and it piqued my interest. I am a care worker in a residential home for those diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and other forms of Dementia but the service users I look after are primarily in their later years, averaging around the age of eighty. To think such a cruel illness could start at fifty was baffling and also slightly terrifying, especially knowing that currently there is no cure for Alzheimer’s.
Genova writes Alice’s struggles with the disease flawlessly. The loss of vocabulary, places and faces were done gradually and were very realistic. Alice’s use of technology; such as using her mobile phone to answer key questions each morning to keep her brain trained; gave the novel that modern twist but also showed how information we train our brain to remember also starts to dissipate under this disease.
Through Genova’s writing, you can sense all the emotions that not only Alice is dealing with but her family also. The frustration; the denial; the anger; and finally the acceptance resonate throughout the plot. The only complaint I have about ‘Still Alice’ is that it appeared to be an abrupt ending but it was still an amazing end to a fantastic read.
As a final side note, I actually really enjoyed the movie and believe they did the book justice which is a rarity.