Friday 27 December 2013

Still Alice

Finished December 26
Still Alice by Lisa Genova

I've had this novel on my shelf for awhile, and am glad I finally got to it. The Alice of the title is Alice Howland, a full professor of psychology at Harvard University, world-renowned expert in linguistics, and mother of three children in their twenties. Her husband is also a professor at Harvard and the two have even written a book together. Alice turns 50 a couple of months into the novel.
As Alice has several issues of forgetfulness and disorientation she begins to worry, and takes herself in for a checkup. As other causes are ruled out, Alice finds she has early onset Alzheimer's, something she never dreamed of. It takes her a while to accept it, and her family also struggles with what this means, not only for her, but also for them. Early onset Alzheimer's has a strong genetic component, and there is a high possibility at least one of her children might have the gene as well.
As the disease progresses, we see how the different family members handle the changes, how it affects Alice's career, and her life. We see her struggle and her plans for the future.
This is a novel that had me silently weeping as I read it, totally involved in the lives of these characters and the reality they were now dealing with.
I know someone with a parent who had early onset Alzheimer's and can't help but wonder if she and her siblings have looked at the genetic possibilities for themselves.

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