Sunday, December 11, 2016
Still Alice - one of the very best books I have ever read.
This is a review I'm going to enjoy, so much more than Girl With a Pearl Earring.
Still Alice was fantastic. Here's the synopsis real quick:
From New York Times bestselling author and neuroscientist Lisa Genova comes the definitive—and illuminating—novel about Alzheimer’s disease. Now a major motion picture starring Oscar winner Julianne Moore! Look for Lisa Genova's latest novel Inside the O’Briens.
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. As she struggles to cope with Alzheimer’s, she learns that her worth is comprised of far more than her ability to remember.
At once beautiful and terrifying, Still Alice is a moving and vivid depiction of life with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease that is as compelling as A Beautiful Mind and as unforgettable as Ordinary People.
So basically, this extremely intelligent psychology professor, Alice Howland, begins to forget things. At first it's just minor things, like where her phone charger is and how she apparently left her Blackberry at a restaurant table when she didn't even remember taking it out. Understandable, right? She's under a lot of stress, teaching lectures and family dynamics and all.
But when she's out running, she forgets where she is. Completely. She has no idea which road she needs to take to get home, and it takes her awhile to remember. So naturally, after this she goes to the doctor and is pronounced fit and fine after the tests they give her. So nothing's wrong....right?
But then it's even bigger things. She completely forgets what the lecture she's teaching is about - which is appalling since she was literally practicing it for the last hour before going to teach it. She has to ask her students which one it is.
Her memory continues to fail her like this, and finally the doctors realize what's wrong.
Alice Howland has early onset Alzheimer's disease.
This was just so sad and scary to me. Despite being a fictional novel, this book reminds you that things like this really do happen, and it takes you through Alice's life as her Alzheimer's symptoms increase. Her memory begins to get worse. For instance, while at a party, she is introduced to the wife of one of her colleagues - and promptly forgets and introduces herself all over again a few minutes later to the poor woman.
It begins to get very difficult to do simple things like hold a conversation with someone, especially on the phone. It's like Alice's brain needs a lot more time to process things. She can understand words, but her brain has to take the time to process them, and by the time it has, the person is already saying something else. It's also very hard for her to remember simple things like when each of her classes are, and what they're about.
One of the saddest parts is when Alice is watching her youngest daughter, Lydia, performing in a Shakespeare play. She completely forgets that this character in the show is her daughter, and at the end when Lydia comes up to them, Alice talks to her as though she were a complete stranger and just one of the actresses, unwittingly hurting her daughter.
You get to see what Alzheimer's does to Alice, what happens to her and how difficult it becomes for her to do simple tasks like read, run, and teach, because of her memory. She must quit her job as a psychology professor, and she can no longer go anywhere by herself without her husband John, whom I admired in this book because of his dedication to her and his determination to help her.
Truly one of the best books I have ever read. I expected it to start off slow and be kind of boring, but NO. This book was never boring. Right away she is having memory problems, and not long into the book, she is diagnosed with Alzheimer's. I literally read this in a few hours. I would definitely recommend it. There were no inappropriate parts, nothing like that, so I think it would be fine for a teen to read. The writing was excellent and captivating.
And - BONUS - there's also a movie!!! Starring Julianne Moore and Alec Baldwin. Kristen Stewart plays Lydia. I haven't seen the movie yet but I can't wait.