Book Reviews

Book Review: Still Alice by Lisa Genova


Title: Still Alice

Author: Lisa Genova

Published: 2005

Pages: 292

Genre: Fiction – Contemporary

Format: Book borrowed from the library

My rating:  5/5


“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.”

One of the most beautifully written accounts of illness I have ever read. The realistic point of view of what Alzheimer’s looks like is outstanding. There is appreciation for how the best laid plans don’t work out. Taking in each account and every check in monthly from Alice, I became increasingly curious about my family medical history and some friends whose loved ones are experiencing this horrendous disease if the mind.

The narrative is rich as this is a reality for thousands of people every day – both those affected and caretakers. Having several accounts of Alice’s family’s point of view solidified the quality and depth of details in the story, portraying what it holistically looks like. With that being said, and me being the youngest of 4, I found it compelling to see the sacrifices the youngest/misunderstood daughter takes out of love. On the flip side, the eldest daughter seemed to make the disease all about her, which made me empathize with Alice more because of what she can’t help.

The most interesting dynamic was between Alice and her husband, John. I thought a lot about priorities and what compromises we make in relationships and marriages. At one point, they were discussing what the next plan is after the diagnosis and increasing symptoms. It seemed that Alice is more focused on memories in the relationship and John is concerned about his career – they both mention passions and Alice thinks to herself , “She wished she’d been his passion”. At a time like this in a person’s life, someone else may need something else to ease the thought of the pain they are witnessing and sometimes feeling. I thought about how far love can go and what we can still fight for regardless of our condition.

I believe to best sum up this story is what Alice’s mother told her when she was little which was to “not to be sad for the butterflies, that just because their lives were short didn’t mean they were tragic…See they have a beautiful life”

Read Still Alice if you like the themes of:

  • Family
  • Modern Medicine
  • Psychology
  • Sacrifice
  • Health/Mental Health

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