Sunday, March 1, 2009
by Lisa Genova
Copyright 2007, 2009
293 wonderfully written pages
From the inside cover:
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 Ordinary People.
I just finished Still Alice early this morning and the feelings that it brought forth within me were many...laughter, sadness, despair, hopeful, terrifying, inspiring.....as you can see there is a huge gambit of feelings going on here. I don't want to give away any of the story during this post so I will try to make my thoughts short and sweet and to only elaborate on my feelings from this book.
Laughter: There is a part in the book where Alice gets into a fighting match with a piece of clothing. Her husband doesn't find it funny but she does and can't stop herself from laughing. Her reaction to this disease made me laugh along with her, what else could you do?
Sadness: There are a lot of sad parts in this book for me. At times I had to stop and wonder what would my life be like if this happened to me? What would happen to my two sons and my husband. How long would it be before I stopped recognizing them? There is a very poignant moment that totally hit home for me.
"I'm so sorry I have this. I can't stand the thought of how much worse this is going to get. I can't stand the thought of looking at you someday, this face I love, and not knowing who you are."
This passage made me sob my heart out this morning in the shower and this is why. My Grandpa Bill Brown suffered from Alzheimers. His last year of his life was spent in a special unit at a nursing home. I visited him when I could and during my Christmas break I stayed with my parents for almost 2 weeks and saw my Grandpa daily. I knew in my heart that this would probably be it for me. I couldn't handle seeing him waste away to nothing. Mind you, he was a big man in his prime, and now he was a skeleton. But not only that, his essence, who he was, was quickly disappearing. So on one visit I sat down with him and grabbed his face between my hands and said, "Grandpa, do you know that you're the best grandpa in the whole world and I love you so much?" He looked me in the eyes and said these words that I will never ever forget...."Sis, I don't know who you are but I know that I love you." My heart quite literally broke that day.
Despair and Terrifying: My heart aches in the knowledge that anyone of us could be struck with Early-Onset Alzheimers and it scares the shit out of me. For the past 3 years I've been noticing that my brain isn't as sharp as it use to be...do I chalk it up to stress? age? (I'm only 40) pre-Menopause? or could it be something more insidious? Not knowing who my loved ones are, not being able to find the right words for things, words that I just had control of the day before......terrifying.
Inspiring: this book is inspiring, because it is from Alice's point-of-view and yes, at times she feels hopeless, but she's more than willing to try any experimental drug out there and to exercise, take her medications, and to live her life. Even when some of her loved ones start to act as if she's not there, she does not give up on herself!!! I'm also inspired by the doctors who are out there working around the clock to try to cure this horrible disease.
In a word, you MUST read this book. Even if you've never been touched by Alzheimer's in your personal life, you will be touched by this story and by this courageous woman who is....Still Alice.
P.S. I've listed way to many passages and quotes on my other blog to put into this review, but if you're interested in reading them please visit Quotes and Passages.
Thoughts of Joy
Lesley's Book Nook