This unusual novel tells the story of Alice Howland, a cognitive psychology professor at Harvard. She is a respected expert in linguistics, writes papers, attends conferences & gives lectures. She is a brilliant woman, until at the age of 50 she is diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s disease. This story is unusual in that it is written from Alice’s point of view as she faces the fear of losing her identity. Whether or not you have dealt with Alzheimer’s or dementia in your own family or among friends, this is a wonderful book to read. Genova has a real feel for the trials that Alice must face and portrays her in a very compassionate manner. It is a sad but not depressing book that gives the reader insight into this condition from the point of view of the afflicted rather than the caregiver. Due to the fact that Alice is the narrator, the book can only go as far as it is believable that she can still narrate, and she never reaches a point of being violent or abusive as some do. In a way this softens the ending, which is filled with love that Alice can feel even if she can no longer name it.
Genova is a columnist for the National Alzheimer’s Association & holds a PH.D. in neuroscience from Harvard University. She obviously has studied Alzheimer’s disease well, and has spent time with both those who have it and those who care for them. She is a good advocate for greater understanding of those who get this disease.
For book groups, there is a list of questions at the end of the story, suggestions for websites to look at, and an interview with the author.
“After I read Still Alice, I wanted to stand up and tell a train full of strangers, ‘You have to get this book.’” — Beverly Beckham, The Boston Globe