Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Diverse Books: Still Alice

Still Alice by Lisa Genova is about a Harvard cognitive psychology professor who discovers that she has early-onset Alzheimer's. The novel tells the story month-by-month of Alice's discovery of and progression through her disease from her point-of-view.

I think this cover is so beautiful, especially when you read the book and understand the significance of the butterflies to Alice.

(picture taken from Goodreads;
jacket design by Anna Dorfman;
jacket photograph from Roz Woodward/Getty Images)

First Sentence: "Even then, more than a year earlier, there were neurons in her head, not far from her ears, that were being strangled to death, too quietly for her to hear them."

First Impression: The idea of this book is incredibly simple and the reading of it profound. My favorite thing about this book so far is how subtly the story is being told. It is all from Alice's point-of-view. She may be going about her day-to-day life, but the reader is seeing her Alzheimer's progress even when she misses it. I can completely relate to her distress--language, literature, and family are my life, and to know you have a disease where you will lose memory of all of them? Well, that would be harder than most things.

Conclusion: I can't believe this is Genova's first novel! Her passion for the book and for her topic is obvious. The characters are very realistic and well-developed. They are not perfect and often make mistakes handling Alice's situation, but this reflects the love, confusion, frustration, and helplessness they are all feeling in the face of her diagnosis. My heart aches for Alice, but I still love how realistic this story is. This is not a fairy tale. It's a fictional interpretation of real events and issues people with early-onset Alzheimer's and their families go through every day. It's such a heart-breaking disease that gets little attention compared to cancer and other diseases.

 This is the movie cover. Apparently Julianne Moore won several awards for her part as Alice, but I haven't seen it yet.

Still Alice is my February "Invisible Illnesses" choice for the We Read Diverse Books Challenge 2015. Has anyone else read this book yet, and what did you think? Don't forget to enter my current giveaway in which this book is one of the prizes!


  1. My grandma had Alzheimer's, and my mom worries she might be developing it, so I'm just not going to read this or see the movie because I would cry the whole way through, and... I don't want to :-( But I'm glad to hear it's compelling! I hope it makes people more aware of the disease and how it affects not only the people with it, but their families and friends as well.

    1. I completely understand. My grannie had dementia of a different form (it was a long time ago, so diagnosis was sketchy), and I found this did bring up some memories of that. It's so great and well-written, though. I, like you, hope that it sheds some light on this disease. And I heard Genova is writing another book not about Alzheimer's, so maybe you could read that one and try her out?

    2. Ooh! Maybe her next book will appeal more to me. Yay!