Monday, February 28, 2011

Latest Read: Still Alice

This lovely book came highly recommended to me by both a friend and my mom.

Summary from Goodreads:
"This may be one of the most frightening novels you'll ever read. It's certainly one of the most unforgettable. Genova's debut revolves around Alice Howland - Harvard professor, gifted researcher and lecturer, wife, and mother of three grown children. One day, Alice sets out for a run and soon realizes she has no idea how to find her way home. It's a route she has taken for years, but nothing looks familiar. She is utterly lost. Is her forgetfulness the result of menopausal symptoms? A ministroke? A neurological cancer? After a few doctors' appointments and medical tests, Alice has her diagnosis, and it's a shocker -- she has early-onset Alzheimer's disease.

What follows is the story of Alice's slow but inevitable loss of memory and connection with reality, told from her perspective. She gradually loses the ability to follow a conversational thread, the story line of a book, or to recall information she heard just moments before. To Genova's great credit, readers learn of the progression of Alice's disease through the reactions of others, as Alice does, so they feel what she feels -- a slowly building terror"

What a compelling and heartbreaking book!  The last several chapters of the novel I spent with steady tears on my face.  Despite the crying, I really did find that Still Alice had some wonderful uplifting moments and is filled with hope even when faced with the tragedy of this terrible disease robbing Alice of her mind.

In a few reviews there was some talk of the inadequacies of Genova's writing.  I would have to disagree with this criticism.  While I would agree that Genova is no Leif Enger, I think her plain, sparse prose was perfect for this book because it allowed the focus to solely shine on Alice, her family, and her disease.  This novel would be a great choice for a book club as there are a myriad of scenes and themes that warrant discussion.  I read this in the span of a few hours and cannot recommend this book enough!

5/5 stars.

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