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69 of 70 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Life imitating art...in my own life
Alice Howland taught cognitive psychology courses at Harvard for over twenty-five years. Alice and her husband, John authored Molecules to Mind, she published papers, and lectured around the world. Her three children were grown and on their own paths (not that she was very happy about Lydia's choice of acting, but she hadn't given up trying to influence her to go back...
Published on Jan. 19 2009 by Mary G. Longorio

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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars emotional rollercoaster
In reading this book, I got VERY angry and emotional. I hated this book; and for all the reasons I hate it, are the very reasons why this book is so excellent - for anyone who has watched a family member decline with dementia, or feared dementia in themselves, this book bravely examines it all, no holds barred. The author tried to examine the crumbling decline of the...
Published on Feb. 8 2010 by 30 something


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69 of 70 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Life imitating art...in my own life, Jan. 19 2009
By 
Mary G. Longorio "Texasbookgirl" (Eagle Mountain, UT) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Still Alice (Paperback)
Alice Howland taught cognitive psychology courses at Harvard for over twenty-five years. Alice and her husband, John authored Molecules to Mind, she published papers, and lectured around the world. Her three children were grown and on their own paths (not that she was very happy about Lydia's choice of acting, but she hadn't given up trying to influence her to go back to real school). Her son Tom was doing well in school, daughter Annie and her husband, Charlie are attorneys trying to conceive a first grandchild.

Facing a busy schedule and travel and everyday stress, Alice isn't concerned when she begins to forget little things, where the keys are, names of acquaintances or a momentary sense of disorientation. After all she is fifty and that is part of menopause. .

A trip to her family doctor to get some suggestions for cognitive memory reinforcement and to see if medication is available does not help. Alice is stunned to learn that she has Early Onset Alzheimer's and that there is not very much available for treatment. Telling her husband and children is even harder to face. Eventually she has to face the loss of her teaching and life's work.

"Still Alice" is Alice's voice as she struggles with the advancement of Alzheimer's. As the disease advances, she is living more in the now, and often hurt by her interpretations of family member's words and actions. She reacts with anger and confusion as her world shifts and becomes more unfamiliar and frightening. Her family also has to deal with their emotions. The realization that their funny, loving accomplished mother and wife is slowly disappearing before their eyes are devastating, and they each react differently. Alice tries to stay aware of what is happening, but has the disease advances her voice becomes quieter and briefer. Lisa Genova has a Ph.D in Neuroscience from Harvard University and works with several Alzheimer's organizations as well as serving as the online columnist for the national Alzheimer's Association. Although "Still Alice" is a work of fiction, it is apparent there is much drawn from real life experiences and observations. Genova has given a voice to a population not usually listened to. The characters are facing uncertainty and struggling with Alice's decent into unknowing. There are moments of hilarity as well as heartbreak. This book will touch anyone who works with dementia patients, or who has a friend or loved one with Alzheimer's. (early 2008)

1/19/2009

Less than a year later finds me, the reviewer, caring for my own father in my home as he succumbs more and more to his organic dementia. We have had to uproot him from his home in Texas to move into our home in Utah where either my husband or I can be with him around the clock. We moved into a house and I have drastically cut back on my work load. I keep looking back to the pages where Alice tries to describe her confusion and tries to frame what she wants from those around her so I can somehow meet those same needs in my Father. I fear I am falling short.....there is so much anger directed at me and my husband for moving him away. We couldn't transfer out jobs down to Texas and survive. Being over fifty we couldn't walk away from careers with tenure and pensions. Between my 7 other siblings there were too many teenagers (too much stress) too many young children (ditto) and a widowed sister looking for a possible husband. Oh, and the inevitable family conflicts. No matter how hard I have tried I feel I am falling short. "It's nothing personal, Mary....I like your brothers more than you" Dad hates it here, it isn't working. "One night I am going to walk right out of here and won't that be a surprise in the morning?' Dad often says the blessing at dinner and is sure to add "Please bless this food especially since Mary has cooked tonight" that is if he can manage to say all that before we all get the giggles and just say "amen". I work with this type patient everyday at my job and I still cannot make it work in my homecare for my own Father. I reread Still Alice as a roadmap. it is my best guide.....though the road is unknown and I feel completely unprepared to travel it. I have no choice I must keep moving on....
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars new insights, Sept. 27 2009
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This review is from: Still Alice (Paperback)
As a social worker, working with many individuals and families as they travel through journeys of living with dementia, I appreciated the new insights that this story brought to my understanding. I appreciated the insider's view of a woman living with dementia, as I find that in practice within the medical field, this so often becomes lost. Also lost in real life is a focus on what a person's strengths, abilities and beliefs are, despite the challenges and loses they are facing - in particular, Alice's daughter Lydia is still able to draw this out in relationship with Alice. I enjoyed a view into what Alice focused on during social interactions once her abilities to engage in fast paced dialogue had diminished - her eye to what people's non verbal communication was saying, what emotions she could read in others and how she looked at the textures/pieces of an environment in new ways. Overall,
I applaud Lisa Genova's effort to highlight the experience of people with early onset dementia and to lead us all to think about and remember that we are much more than our intelligence and ability to multitask that is so often over valued in our culture today.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars an eye-opening book, Sept. 3 2009
By 
Laura Fabiani (Montreal) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Still Alice (Paperback)
When I first started reading Still Alice, I wasn't crazy about the main character. But as this was a fiction novel about Alice Howland, a 50 year-old linguistic psychology professor from Harvard who gets diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's disease, I was very interested in the story. As I continued reading, I was not disappointed.

As soon as Alice gets diagnosed, the book took off for me. I couldn't put it down. The author chose to tell the story solely from Alice's point of view, and I thought this was brilliant. The reader experiences first-hand the main character's despair, her fears and frustrations. Although this story has its heartbreaking and sad moments, its ending was, oddly enough, uplifting and hopeful. I took a deep breath as I read the last page and was left with mixed emotions. I wanted to cry, but I was also smiling.

The strength of the story is in its portrayal of Alzheimer's devastating effects on every aspect of Alice's life, from her work to her daily life with her grown children and husband, with one exception. No mention is made of how the illness affected Alice's sexual relationship. Alice and her husband are portrayed as physically fit, active individuals who act more like roommates than a married couple. Since sexual intimacy is a healthy and important part of a relationship, an illness such as Alzheimer's (where a person begins to forget who their family members are) would definitely challenge how a couple would display affection. Omission of this aspect of Alice's life may have been intentional on the part of the author to show the evident lack of passion that became almost pivotal as the story concludes with a questionable decision on the part of her husband.

I noted six f-- words in this book. Friends have disclosed to me that when a family member suffers from dementia, it is not uncommon to hear them voice many colourful expressions, even if all their lives they were known never to swear or say vulgar things! Again, the author may have included this as a realistic portrayal of the changes that come with losing one's mind.

There is no doubt that this book has made me see Alzheimer's with new eyes. Most of us tend to associate this mental (and eventually physical) illness with the elderly population and not with persons in the prime of their life--some getting diagnosed as early as mid-forties. After reading this book, forgetting where you placed your keys may give you a momentary jolt of panic...but as you remember Alice's story, you will also feel compelled to be grateful for a sound mind.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Still Alice, April 16 2009
By 
Sharon Williamson (Red Deer, Alberta Canada) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Still Alice (Paperback)
Lisa Genova's first book is both disturbing and educational. Her characters are so true to life you laugh and cry with them while you are learning about Alzheimer's disease. The devastation in Alice's life is phenomenal as her career ends and her role as wife and mother are forever changed when she is diagnosed with early onset Alzheimers at 50 years of age. Still Alice is a great read, one that everyone could benefit from reading.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Still Alice, Feb. 19 2010
By 
Carol C. Markowsky (Rossland, BC) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
I completely related to Alice and her family. My husband has a progressive neurological condition that has profoundly affected his mobility and speech and of course has a major impact on myself and our daughters. It made me think about my own situation on so many different levels that it's hard for me to convert my thoughts into a few words. There were 2 tracks in the book that I kept seeing (we have experienced them as well). One was people's inability or discomfort in relating to her once she was diagnosed - friends and family either told her how sorry they were or talked as if she wasn't present. Her daughter Lydia was able to connect with her. She was successful because she connected with her mother on an emotional level not in a cognitive way. On the last page of the book she asks her mother to listen to her monologue from a play and tell her what she thinks about it, not the story (because she knew she wouldn't be able to comprehend the words) but how it makes her feel emotionally. The second theme I noticed was the references to small moments. The things that mattered to Alice in the end were: walking to work with her husband, eating ice cream, running, smelling her grandchildren. So here comes the lessons we can all learn - be empathetic not sympathetic (saying I'm sorry is not helpful or necessary) and when it comes down to it, the only things that matters are the small moments with the people you are closest to. Maybe if we all try to be more empathetic and in touch with our own emotions we will stop defining ourselves through our work/careers and actually take the time to enjoy the small moments. One more thing, don't be too hard on John for not being more supportive of Alice. He was going through the stages of grief as well - denial, anger, bargining and hopefully he reached the final stage of acceptance. No one really knows how they will react if faced with a similar situation until they're in it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An eye opener, Sept. 16 2013
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This review is from: Still Alice (Paperback)
This book should be manditory reading for anyone who has a senior family member who has, or is developing Alzheimer's disease. It is a strong, powerful book that shows the pure hell that people with this horrible disease are going through. I read the whole book in a day...Just could not put it down.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great book but where's the ending?, Feb. 20 2010
By 
Book Momma (Victoria, BC CA) - See all my reviews
I thought this was a wonderful book. A real eye opener as to what it must be like to live with Alzheimer's from both sides of the disease. The book was well written, very informative, and the characters were very real and believable.
I was very disappointed though at the ending, or lack there of. It just ends sort of mid sentence. A proper conclusion or at least a lead into another book would have been ok but how this one wrapped up was just weird.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping and enlightening, June 17 2009
By 
MD (Toronto, ON) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Still Alice (Paperback)
What a great story. A very easy read; couldn't put it down! I have never really put much thought into Alzheimers before, but boy, was this story enlightening. Alice is a lovable, relatable character, with a successful career, a busy but devoted husband, and children each at their own stages of life. When Alzheimers takes over and changes her dynamics with each, it is heartbreaking.

I found myself very sad for Alice and all her family members throughout the novel, and can only imagine what true Alzheimers patients and their families go through. You will leave this book wanting to go and spend time with your loved ones and to cherish every moment, knowing that with a disease like this you can lose it all too easily.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Still Alice, Nov. 21 2009
By 
Sherry Mcalpine "Sherry book lover" (Ontario Canada) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Still Alice (Paperback)
It was one of the best books I've read as it was well written and so informative. I really think that anyone who is a caregiver for a senior whether with Alzheimer or not should read this book. It gives an insight into the senior and the incredible frustration that is experienced as we age. We need to be patient and remember that our senior has led an interesting life that needs to be acknowledged and respected for it.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Still Alice, March 21 2010
By 
Paula M. Schuck "Inkscrblr" (London, ON. Canada) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Still Alice by Lisa Genova is a lovely, bittersweet, insightful l look, at the devastating diagnosis of early onset Alzheimer's Disease. Alice Howland, an accomplished Harvard professor, is barely 50 when she starts to realize her brain is beginnning to fail her. Forgetfulness is becoming an issue. She often is at a loss for words and occasionally becomes lost at work on the campus near the university where she teaches. She loses her place in a telephone conversation with her grown children often and simply isn't as sharp as she once was. These small blips require further investigation and so she reluctantly and, with disbelief, consults her doctor. The diagnosis, while shocking, isn't completely a surprise as Alice seems to know in her gut that something is wrong long before it is given a name. Early-onset Alzheimer's. She keeps the diagnosis to herself for far too long, until she is no longer able. When she shares the devastating news with family, they react in their own ways, each one revealing different facets of the disease. To Alice's oldest daughter it is particularly frightening as she becomes pregnant and worries the genes might be passed to her twins. Projecting into the future she also worries she may someday be a burden to her own children if she develops symptoms. Youngest child Lydia, the artistic actress, surprisingly rises to the challenge as caregiver of her mother. Their bond is strengthened by the mother's vulnerability. Lydia chooses not to have the testing that would reveal her future health. Her brother Tom carries survivor guilt of sorts when it is revealed that he should not get Alzheimer's. Her husband, John, a brilliant doctor, hides his feelings and refuses to believe his wife may someday be unable to remember his name. He is a secondary character at best in this story and he is sometimes unlikeable as the heartbroken husband struggling to decide if he can manage his feelings while unable, at times, to see the essence of Alice beneath the deterioration. John chooses work as a refuge from his homebound formerly vibrant wife. "If I am in lab, I don't have to watch you sticking Post-it notes on all the cabinets and doors. I can't just stay home and watch you get worse. It kills me." can't take it Alice. The impact on Alice's family is dealt with nicely here in this novel, as each of Alice's children struggle to decide if they will be tested for genetic markers that will tell them whether they may develop the same terrible disease. But it is Alice's story that clearly dominates the novel and her character we feel for all throughout her sad journey. While this is a fictional story, Genova, who has a PHD in neuroscience from Harvard University, is an expert on the details of this disease, and I loved that I learned so much about the inner workings of the brain from this book. This book has all of the elements of a good story and has won a few accolades along the way including the 2008 Bronte prize and yet I felt the writing lacked sophistication and style. This is a great story and it is nicely written and I would recommend it to almost anyone, but the writing is simply good, not great.

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Still Alice
Still Alice by Lisa Genova (Paperback - Jan. 6 2009)
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