Monday, March 3, 2014

Still Alice

This is of my book groups chose Still Alice by Lisa Genova to read for our February
meeting.  I had missed the meeting two months before when the book was chosen.  I would have not voted for it, since I had read it in May of 2010 and didn't especially care for it then. But this is a case of re-reading a book and changing your mind!

When I had read it in 2010, my mother had just been diagnosed with Alzheimer's and she wanted me to read it.  That is why I did, and at that time, I just couldn't relate it to my mom.  Well,  my mom died in May of 2012, so there were two years of watching her decline with this disease (although it wasn't what she died from). Reading Still Alice this time was a whole different experience for me.

This is how I had blogged about the book in May 2010:

The story is about 50 year old Alice, a psychology professor at Harvard, who begins to be aware of memory problems.  She is diagnosed with early onset of Alzheimer's.  The book tells of the struggles of Alice, her husband John and their three grown children as they deal with the diagnosis and the in-their-face reality of Alzheimer's affecting their wife/mother.
For some reason, I had thought that the story was a true story and that the husband narrated it.  I was totally wrong.  It is a novel and told by Alice herself.  I found the writing to be rather simplistic and never felt like I really knew the characters.  It was an easy read and there is a lot of information about Alzheimer's in the book.  Again, I guess that I would recommend it, also.   
Of course, the story is the same, but seeing it through different eyes changed the story for me.  This time, I felt like it was a beautifully written portrayal of how a person experienced both the diagnosis and the disease itself. And how Alice's family experienced both.  Alice and her husband, John, had three grown children.  Alice was a fifty year old cognitive psychology professor at Harvard who began slowly realizing that she was forgetting things. On the day that she went out for a run and found herself at Harvard Square and did not know where she was she knew she needed to see a doctor and find out what was going on with her.  This was in September 2003.  The book progresses through to September 2005, so it is about the first two years of living with her disease.

After watching my mother (who was about eighty when diagnosed) I found the book very insightful and moving.  I was especially touched by the ending of the book.

A very sad, but touching book.

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