Still Alice is a book about Alice Howland, a cognitive psychologist, research scientist, and Harvard college professor. Alice is brilliant, intelligent, and outstanding in her field, but her life takes a turn for the worse when she finds out she has early onset Alzheimer’s disease. I decided to read this book because it was on a list of 21 Books to Read Before They Hit The Big Screen in 2015.
The book is well-written and structured. It really gives you a glimpse into the mind of a patient struggling, and failing, to keep her memory intact, trying to retain a normal life even though her brain is basically self-imploding.
My grandma suffered from Alzheimer’s during the last two years of her life before dying at the age of 80. I vividly remember how she slowly slipped into a state of dementia, up until the point where she had forgotten that my grandpa–her husband–had died a few years back. Then she forgot her grandchildren. I’m really not sure how much she remembered during the last months of her life.
Alzheimer’s is a silent, merciless killer… and the book shows how tragic this disease can be.
There are moments where the writing feels a little distant and dry, like it doesn’t pack the emotional punch you feel it should. There are other times where the sadness is subtle and in-between-the-lines. In the end it feels like every character ended up where they should have ended up, and even though Alice’s mind slowly degenerated–and we can really see in the writing what having Alzheimer’s would be like–she was always surrounded by love until the very end.
So even though having Alzheimer’s disease is tragic, it would be even more so without having a support system and people that really care about the patient. And that’s what’s nice about this novel…it really gets that point across.