I think we can all identify with the feeling of going into another room to do something, arriving in that room, and now you don’t remember what you came into the room for. Doesn’t it feel weird? To know that you had something in your brain, but then it vanishes? Still Alice explores the effect that Alzheimer’s has on a woman and her family, as she experiences those lapses more and more and in more and more severe situations.
…a realistic portrait of early onset Alzheimer’s disease. Alice Howland is an esteemed psychology professor at Harvard, living a comfortable life in Cambridge with her husband, John, arguing about the usual (making quality time together, their daughter’s move to L.A.) when the first symptoms of Alzheimer’s begin to emerge. First, Alice can’t find her Blackberry, then she becomes hopelessly disoriented in her own town. Alice is shocked to be diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s (she had suspected a brain tumor or menopause), after which her life begins steadily to unravel.
Still Alice is a wonderful yet distressing book. Wonderful writing, wonderful portrayal of family and relationships and the day-to-day that makes up this thing called life. Wonderful because i read it in two days – definitely a page-turner. I said “distressing,” but that isn’t the right word; it was just a very difficult book emotionally, in my opinion. The book is told from the perspective of Alice, who is losing her mind to early onset Alzheimer’s at the age of 50. You’re right there, identifying with her, realizing that something is clearly wrong.
The most heartbreaking moments to me were the ones where her husband can’t deal with it. There are several encounters they have that are just too real – Genova really nailed the intimacy between a couple that has been together for 30+ years. They know each other so well, and yet here they are at a point where they don’t know each other at all. It’s not because they’ve grown apart (though maybe they have a little); instead it is because she can’t remember who he is, while the woman he fell in love with is no longer there.
I cried a half dozen times at least. Tender moments. Angry moments. Unfair moments. I can get caught up in a story. And i’m still thinking about it – it’s one of those books that had an impact on me. That’s what makes the book “distressing”. But it is wonderful, too.