Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Still Alice

When the Little Free Library I steward received a copy of Lisa Genova's novel, Still Alice, I couldn't resist grabbing it for a quick read. It had been on my "To-Read" list for a time, having just joined a book club one season after the group had already read it. I was aware of the theme of the novel, and that it had impacted some of my friends who were walking through the fog of Alzheimer's disease with their own loved ones.

It is a well-written account of Dr. Alice Howland, psychology professor at Harvard University, through her diagnosis and decline into Early Onset Alzheimer's Disease (EOAD). The story includes the perspectives of Alice's husband, her three children and her colleagues at Harvard (though less-so than her family.)

Since I am very nearly the same age as Alice, I must admit that reading the book made me question myself each time I forgot anything. Like the character, I often place blame for my memory lapses on going through menopause. It is good to remember that women who are 50 and forgetful are most probably NOT experiencing EOAD.

As a parish pastor for 13 years, I also walked this journey on the periphery with several families. The early days, when Alzheimer's is a patchy fog and the patient has moments of clarity interspersed with times of disorientation and memory lapse are what seems much too swiftly followed by the day their loved one walks into the type of London fog so thick it never really lifts. So many good-byes are mourned, so many times over.

I'm glad I read Genova's novel, even if the topic is somber. It will give you much to contemplate. If you are in a book club and your group has not read this book yet, I would recommend it. There is much food for discussion!

From the Publisher . . .

In Lisa Genova’s extraordinary New York Times bestselling novel, an accomplished woman slowly loses her thoughts and memories to Alzheimer’s disease—only to discover that each day brings a new way of living and loving. Now a major motion picture starring Julianne Moore, Alec Baldwin, Kate Bosworth, and Kristen Stewart!

Alice Howland, happily married with three grown children and a house on the Cape, is a celebrated Harvard professor at the height of her career when she notices a forgetfulness creeping into her life. As confusion starts to cloud her thinking and her memory begins to fail her, she receives a devastating diagnosis: early onset Alzheimer’s disease. Fiercely independent, Alice struggles to maintain her lifestyle and live in the moment, even as her sense of self is being stripped away. In turns heartbreaking, inspiring, and terrifying, Still Alice captures in remarkable detail what it’s like to literally lose your mind...

Reminiscent of A Beautiful Mind, Ordinary People, and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, Still Alice packs a powerful emotional punch and marks the arrival of a strong new voice in fiction.

About the Author . . .

Lisa Genova graduated valedictorian, summa cum laude from Bates College with a degree in Biopsychology and has a Ph.D. in Neuroscience from Harvard University. She is the author of the New York Times Bestselling novels STILL ALICE, LEFT NEGLECTED, and LOVE ANTHONY.

STILL ALICE has spent over 40 weeks on the New York Time bestseller list. It won the 2008 Bronte Prize and the 2011 Bexley Book of the Year, and it was nominated for the 2010 Indies Choice Debut Book of the Year by the American Booksellers Association. It was the #6 Top Book Group Favorite of 2009 by Reading Group Choices, a 2009 Barnes & Noble Discover Pick, a 2009 Indie Next pick, a 2009 Borders Book Club Pick, and a 2009 Target Book Club pick. It has been translated into 31 languages and was chosen as one of thirty titles for World Book Night 2013.

The film rights for STILL ALICE were acquired by producers James Brown and Lex Lutzus of Neon Park, and the book was adapted for the screen by Wash Westmoreland and Richard Glatzer. The film was released nationwide in January 2015, starring Julianne Moore, Alec Baldwin, Kristen Stewart, Kate Bosworth, and Hunter Parrish. Julianne Moore won the Best Actress Oscar for her role as Alice Howland.

Lisa travels worldwide, speaking about Alzheimer's Disease, traumatic brain injury, and autism. She has appeared on the Dr. Oz Show, the Diane Rehm Show, CNN, Chronicle, Fox News, and Canada AM and was featured in the Emmy award-winning documentary film, TO NOT FADE AWAY.

Lisa's fourth novel, INSIDE THE O'BRIENS focuses on Huntington's Disease and will be published April 7, 2015. She lives with her family on Cape Cod.

Find out more at www.LisaGenova.com, www.facebook.com/authorlisagenova

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