2015 is quickly coming to an end so I must hurry up with my reading list if I have any chance of reading 20 books this year before 2016! A week ago I finished Still Alice, something that has been on my reading list for some time. I have avoided the film up until now as I wanted to read the book first.
Still Alice is an intimate and frighteningly personal novel relaying Alice’s, a fifty year old psychology professor at Harvard, early onset Alzheimer’s disease and descent into dementia.
As the book progresses she questions her worth and identity as the disease steals pieces of her former self. Author Lisa Genova makes this complicated topic accessible with intricate, profound characters and a well-researched and informed narrative.
Alice’s story is scary. It tells of your worst fears. Losing your thoughts, identity, self and independence at such a young age. Knowing the inevitable with no definite cure. When reading the book you live Alice’s story alongside her, crying, smiling and becoming unsure and questioning your unreliable narrator.
Certain scenes throughout Still Alice give the heart breaking realisation to the reader that they know what Alice has forgotten. Later in the book she regresses, losing memory of her daughter, husband, home, physical movements and basic needs. You mourn and feel the frustration for her, not just for her loss of memories but the stigma carried with this disease as a society, seeing her shut out as though she were already dead.
Though personal relationships break down and you feel the close families suffering there are also positives; relationships that heal and become stronger, with more acceptance and understanding than before.
Lisa Genova has brought this debilitating disease to our attentions, asking for respect for the person still there. I loved Still Alice, not for the literacy but purely for the impact this book has had on me.