Published by Pocket Books on July 6th 2007
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.
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 Judith Guest's Ordinary People.
Hands down one of my favourite books on mental health ever. To this day, I still consider Still Alice to be Genova’s most outstanding work.
Still Alice is a perfect balance between fiction and science. Genova’s writing is wonderful to read, and she breaks down hardcore neuroscience to a comfortable and understandable level. Her characters are engaging, especially Alice. The plot is quite gripping despite the obvious direction the story is going to take as Alice’s mental health declines and her memory circles the drain. Genova being a neuroscientist really helps making Alice and her suffering believeable. In addition, I loved how the story didn’t change point of view, even when hers became more difficult to write with her progressing Alzheimer’s.
However, it wasn’t the prose, the setting, the plot nor the characters that really made this book earn its 5th star – it was the message the book held, spreading a feeling of hope. Not hope for a cure (we have yet to even fully understand the exact reasons behind early-onset Alzheimer’s, unfortunately), but hope that, though our memory can be taken away from us by dysfunctional mechanisms in our brain, we are still able to love and be loved. Because even in tragedy, there is beauty to be found through a family’s love.
But will I always love her? Does my love for her reside in my head or my heart? The scientist in her believed that emotion resulted from complex limbic brain circuitry that was for her, at this very moment, trapped in the trenches of a battle in which there would be no survivors. The mother in her believed that the love she had for her daughter was safe from the mayhem in her mind, because it lived in her heart.
Still Alice is a tragic yet beautiful novel about early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. This difficult and scary topic was handled with great care and expertise. Keep tissues nearby.