Sharing Books and Authors, with an emphasis on Mysteries.
Saturday, October 23, 2010
Still Alice by Lisa Genova
Lisa Genova's Still Alice is a novel you'll read with your heart. And, it will break your heart, but Alice Howland's story is so tragic, and so realistic, that it needs to be read. I'll thank the friend that recommended it to me. And, you won't regret picking it up on my recommendation. I promise.
As a speaker, Dr. Alice Howland was introduced as "The eminent William James Professor of Psychology at Harvard University. Over the last twenty-five years, her distinguished career has produced many of the flagship touchstones in psycholinguistics." However, Alice Howland, at only fifty, lost a word in that speech she presented. She lost other things, but chalked it up to getting old and menopause. But, her youngest daughter, Lydia, noticed she repeated questions. Alice didn't panic though, until she couldn't find her way home from Harvard Square one day. Alice's husband, John, a scientist himself, didn't notice Alice's problems. But, Alice did, and she pushed her way into doctor appointments until she was diagnosed. Alice had early-onset Alzheimer's.
Lisa Genova's story of a woman with Alzheimer's is unusual because it tells the story from Alice's viewpoint. So many Alzheimer's stories deal with the elderly. Instead, we see a brilliant young woman, at the top of her profession, with three grown children and a successful husband, realize that someday she was going to lose her sense of Alice. And, in Alice's two-year journey, we watch her husband's denial, the uncertainty as to how to handle it, and the eventual loss of the Alice she thought she was. "Who was she if she wasn't a Harvard psychology professor?" Genova shows us a woman who knows what she's losing, and she recognizes it before her family does.
Lisa Genova holds a Ph.D. in neuroscience from Harvard University, and she combines her scientific background with an insight into the heart and mind of a woman who suffers from Alzheimer's. It's important to know that the National Alzheimer's Association endorsed the book.
I can't praise this novel highly enough, and I won't give more details. You should read this book to see Alzheimer's from the victim's point of view. Still Alice is unique because Genova shows that Alice, as she becomes, still embodies someone beautiful. She no longer knows her family, but she recognizes love. And, she herself embodies the comment her mother once made about butterflies. "Just because their lives were short didn't mean they were tragic."