This is an extremely moving first novel which chronicles the sudden and swift descent into early-onset Alzheimer’s Disease in the life of Alice Howland, a fifty year old Harvard professor whose expertise is cognitive psychology and linguistics. Because the character is, at first anyway, so self-aware of what is happening to her as the disease progresses it is absolutely chilling to read. There were many moments when I wanted to put the book down, and yet I found I could not. At times I felt as if I were about to witness a horrible accident and yet I could not turn my head away. It was as if I was on a speeding train which I knew was destined to crash, and yet I could not get off at any of the scheduled stops. What makes this so absolutely compelling is that the story is told not from a caretaker’s point of view, as we might expect, but from the victim’s. And because Lisa Genova, the author herself, has a Ph.D in neuroscience from Harvard she has the knowledge and skill to pull a feat like this off. The language itself is very simple, which I found entirely appropriate given the subject, and I believe everyone should read this beautiful book. Warning: will cause the onset of crying in all those except those with the very hardest of hearts.
“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.”
― Lisa Genova, Still Alice
Some sites you may want to visit on the important subject of Alzheimer’s disease are: