Wednesday, December 22, 2010
Fiction Review: Still Alice
It is a powerful, emotional novel about a 50-year old woman dealing with early-onset Alzheimer's disease. Alice is a highly intelligent and accomplished professional woman, a cognitive psychology professor (yes, that's a bit of irony) at Harvard who is asked to speak at conferences around the world. When she begins to notice some memory problems, she assumes it is probably due to menopause. The novel follows her through her devastating diagnosis, telling her family and friends, and through the course of her illness.
When I started this book, I wondered if it would really capture my attention, since it would seem you already know at the beginning how it will end, but Alice's story was riveting. Interestingly, I found I could relate to some of Alice's experiences in adjusting to life with a serious illness. Though my own chronic illness is not progressive and fatal like Alzheimer's is, many of Alice's struggles with acceptance, frustration, and adapting to her new limitations struck a chord with me.
As I read, I grew to love Alice and found myself rooting for her, cheering for small victories in the face of such a horrible illness and crying for her increasingly common defeats. It is a powerful, engaging story that will be of particular importance to readers who know someone with Alzheimer's. Though it is sad at times, at its heart, this novel is about the strength of the human spirit and its capacity for joy and love.
292 pages, Pocket Books (Simon & Schuster)