Thursday, 17 February 2011

Review: Still Alice by Lisa Genova

Fifty-year-old Alice Howland is professor in Harvard, has three grown-up children and a loving, scientist husband. When one day on her usual jogging round she can't remember where she is, Alice recognizes that something has changed. She visits her doctor who soon diagnoses her with the early onset Alzheimer's disease.

Alice now has to face all the horrible things that come with such a diagnose. She has to tell her husband and children and needs to deal with the fact that soon she will not be able to remember faces, places and words; and later how to go or eat. Of course she hopes that some medicine can help her, but as of today there are only meds which can slow the process of the disease but cannot cure it.

I liked that Genova describes a diversity of problems Alzheimer's patient and their relatives have to deal with. For an example that there exist many self help groups for relatives but only very few or no groups for patients.

*spoiler warning*

Genova also did a good job to describe the emotional turmoil a family faces when one amongst them is diagnosed with Alzheimer's. I felt really sorry for Alice's husband who always loved the eloquence and smartness of his wife and first struggles to accept the disease and later tries to get out of Alice's way because he cannot stand to watch her decay. Or later when Alice doesn't recognize her youngest daughter anymore but still feels that this person loves her and simply loves her back. It's heartwrenching but somehow beautiful, too.

*end spoiler*

At a certain point I could never put down this book. I read it at late night, with everybody else already asleep. Although I felt like I had not have enough sleep the next morning, I love when this happens with me and a book.

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